The Worst Product Placement In Gaming History


Posted May 28, 2010 - By Stephen Johnson

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I understand that product placements in video games are here to stay. They offset the massive cost of game development and can even enhance games if used correctly... but that's a big "if."  A good video game creates a complete, fictional world for you to live and play in; hawking real-life products can break the delicate narrative-spell of a game as sure as a glitch can break gameplay. A NASCAR game with a car sponsored by STP makes sense; a post-apocalyptic RPG with a Taco Bell does not. With this simple rule in mind, check out my list of some of the worst, most game-breaking product placements in video game history.

Burger King Fight Night

Fight Night Round 3: Players can 'hire' the Burger King as a fighter's cornerman in this game. King gives your stat ratings a heart boost, making it easier to get up from knockdowns.  I'm a fan of lovably creepy adver-character The King, but making him an unlockable character in an otherwise realistic boxing simulator is jarring, stupid and corny. Yeah, I know it's just game, but come on.

No mention of Burger King is complete without noting that Sneak King, Big Bumpin'  and Pocketbike Racers, a trio of Burger King games that just exist as advertising. I have no problem with these at all. Sneak King was fun, and hey, free achievements!

Gran Turismo 4

Gran Turismo 1-4: It's not that I object to real cars being used in a realistic racing game. This is exactly one of the ways that in-game advertising can work out for the game company, the players and the car companies. The problem comes in the damage to the cars in most sponsored racing game-- you can't do it. Apparently, car companies want to keep you from seeing a dented up Camaro limping across the finish line, so they make the cars indestructible, at least in terms of visuals. A car bouncing off a guardrail without scratching the paint destroys the realism so carefully created by every other aspect of these games.

Battlefield 2142

Battlefield 2142: Pepsi sponsored billboards for use in a game set more than 100 years in the future, as if people locked in a perpetual war in a dystopian future would really care about their soft-drinks. But that's not the worst part. The billboards in the game were also sold to various other companies, including The Discovery Channel and the DVD release of Ghost Rider. Wait, it says "2142" right in the title... how could there be an ad for a movie that came out in the last century?

Barack Ad

Madden NFL 09 (and others):During the contentious presidential race of 2008, Barack Obama advertised in a number of video games, including Madden, and Burnout Paradise. It wasn't so much that Barack Obama's face is out of place in a campaign ad at a football game, it's that Barack was fond of partially blaming societal ills on games, while simultaneously courting gamers for their votes. Not cool, Obama.

Alan Wake: I've already written about this piece of product placement, so I won't repeat myself. I'll let the video speak for itself.


Alan Wake In-Game Verizon Commercial »


 What am I missing? Any other in-game ads tick you off?

The Worst Product Placement In Gaming History


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