Over 111 million people reportedly watched Super Bowl 51. Many of those people (myself included) enjoyed watching the game, but the real reason we’re watching is for the commercials. Even the people watching for the actual game stay for the commercials. It’s just what you do.
This year, most of the commercials, particularly those for upcoming movies and TV shows, did not disappoint. However, the same can’t be said when it comes to video games.
Mobile Strike, Evony: The King’s Return, World of Tanks, and The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind all received Super Bowl T.V. spots, and Nintendo even jumped into the mix with a Nintendo Switch commercial. Some were much better than the others, so let’s break them down one at a time.
The market for mobile games is massive, so it’s no surprise that mobile developers decided to advertise to one of the biggest TV audiences of the year. Mobile Strike even featured Arnold Schwarzenegger in their commercial.
So, what went wrong?
I, and I assume many others would agree, am already tired of the same Schwarzenegger jokes over and over again. “I’ll be back” and “Get to the chopper” have already been run into the ground.
Super Bowl commercials are supposed to be funny, but it’s hard to stand out if your commercial lazily throws around pop-culture references that have already been made a thousand times.
Evony: The King’s Return
Evony is another mobile game that includes some big-name actors and actresses, most notably Jeffrey Dean Morgan from The Walking Dead and Aaron Eckhart. And, if you were to watch the extended version of the trailer, you might think to yourself, “Well, that wasn’t too bad.”
The problem is that neither the ad that actually played during the Super Bowl nor the extended version tell you anything about the game itself. After watching either of the versions, all you know is that the game probably has something to do with war and that it’s free.
At least the extended version had the decency to look semi-cool while telling you nothing about the game.
World of Tanks
Five total commercials were aired for World of Tanks. Most of them had me rolling my eyes at the screen while watching them.
Here’s a playlist with all five trailers:
Most of these ads commit the unforgivable sin of trying to be funny and failing horribly. They’re flat-out cheesy and, again, most of them don’t even tell you what the game is about. If the developers really wanted to draw in more players, they should at least give a basic outline of what their game is about at the end of each Super Bowl spot.
(Okay, I’ll admit, I thought the Stiffedra ad was pretty enjoyable. I still don’t take back what I said, though.)
The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind
Above is the extended cut of the trailer that played during the Super Bowl. It’s freaking awesome, isn’t it?
Now here’s the ad that actually played during the Super Bowl:
It’s a jumbled mess of everything that makes the full trailer awesome, yet somehow manages to be less cool. It’s obvious that the full trailer was made first, and the Super Bowl commercial was cut from it. However, if you really want to make an effective commercial, the opposite should be done.
The Nintendo Switch commercial was the saving grace for video games this Super Bowl. While the extended cut is far better than the Super Bowl spot, the spot still manages to show off the system, some of the console’s new features, and its premier launch game. It doesn’t get too bogged down in the minutia, and if people are interested in what they saw, they could go on YouTube and watch the extended version.
To me, that’s what a Super Bowl commercial should do, and Nintendo pulled it off exceptionally.
What did you think of this year’s Super Bowl commercials? What do you think developers and publishers can learn from this year’s video game commercials for next year? Let us know in the comment section below!