Marketing gurus like to assume two things: that all gamers are heterosexual men, and that said heterosexual men will always be moved to purchase their products based on the chance that the scantily-clad woman pictured in their ads or commercials might proposition them. It's a sad truth of the advertising industry, at least when it comes to video games, and we know all about it. Just look at the latest SoulCalibur ad that found itself banned in the UK.
On the road to becoming a more inclusive art form, gaming has made great strides in terms of attempting to make appealing ads for members of both sexes and those of all sexual orientations, but those marketing geniuses haven't exactly given up on the notion just yet because sex will always sell. With that in mind, we've chosen five of the sexiest ad campaigns that, while were a little more than pandering, imbedded themselves into our brains like the Yeerk into an unsuspecting human. (Animorphs reference.) You might want to browse this list with the door closed.
Catherine suffered from a case of mistaken identity when it came to pushing units, but you had to give it credit for trying – at least with the Japanese ads. Several foldout ads as seen in Japanese print media saw the titular vixen leaning back in cream lingerie, legs spread while the Catherine logo blocked out the supposed naughty bits. Another depicted Catherine slurping the cheese off of a particularly stringy piece of pepperoni pizza. Suggestive and delicious! Most ads didn't see fit to hype up the practical Katherine, and instead chose to market the more sexually liberated Catherine to anyone seeking out the brand new Atlus-published game. Most of this artwork could only be seen online via scans and in art books, with the American ad campaign relying more on the “secret” of Catherine's localization. Was it or wasn't to our shores, that was a recurring theme within the game media. These ads were certainly titillating enough to convince gamers otherwise uninterested in puzzlers to give it a try.
This classic PC and PlayStation third-person dungeon crawler may have been released in 1998, but its racy ad has stuck with us. Last week, I plucked a '90s edition of PC Gamer off my bookshelf and found this very ad waiting inside – a submissive man on his knees, wrists chained to the wall at the feet of a very menacing leather-clad mistress. As the dominatrix leans in with a sadistic glint in her eye, whip poised, your eye is drawn to the text “There's only one thing more torturous than playing Deathtrap Dungeon. Not playing it.” We beg to differ, as while the game is a classic going by nostalgia alone, there were far better releases out there vying for our attention. Still, this glossy ad was a real eye-catcher, especially after paging through your regular copy of Gamer Mag 39453 and stumbling onto this bad boy. Did it move you to snag a copy of Deathtrap Dungeon?
Guitar Hero: World Tour
Playing Guitar Hero couldn't possibly look any less attractive, no matter who you are. It was Activision's hope that if supermodel Heidi Klum strapped on one of the plastic peripherals and ripped off that infamous scene of Risky Business in her skivvies. The result was a completely awkward ad for Guitar Hero: World Tour, which had Heidi shaking her money maker to “Old Time Rock and Roll,” which, coincidentally, was a separate purchase rather than a song that was actually included with the game. The ad effectively communicated the message that if you were to flail around your living room while playing air guitar with the peripheral (let's face it, that's all you could be doing unless you memorized star paths and timing) you might look that good with all your jiggly bits hanging out. Good try, Activision.
Dead or Alive: Xtreme Beach Volleyball
As if its print ads weren't obvious enough, the original DoA Xtreme Beach Volleyball outing came with a TV commercial as well that pushed the envelope. A Dead or Alive inclusion on this list should be obvious, but with a televised ad like this that you just don't see every day, we had to do it. It was originally intended to titillate presumably male gamers looking to watch their favorite Dead or Alive fighters flouncing around in bikinis, taking away any and all attention from the mediocre mini-games and half-baked dating-sim elements. It needed all the misdirection it could get, to be honest – any Dead or Alive title aside from an actual fighter usually turns out to be a steaming pile. This commercial pulls out all the stops, from a room of all male gamers haphazardly hiding a little something-something after playing the game, a creepy Lawrence Fishburne, a bushel of double-entendres, and plenty of T&A action. The creep factor went through the roof, but the ad looks as though it did the job for the blokes in the commercial. The jiggling and gyrations probably did the same to a smattering of viewers.
Social media company Imperial Leisure went right for the throat with their “What Will You Fight For?” ad campaign surrounding fighter Tekken 6. Girls. Slow motion. Fighting over heels. No, really. It's almost as bad as the prior Rumble Roses commercial in terms of sexism, but you can't deny there's eye candy here. There's little else we can say. It's a commendable attempt at viral marketing and showcases plenty of the women's goods, is incredibly pandering, but this little ad probably got several gamers off the couch out to the stores to preorder the sixth installment to the series. As a female, I've never actually seen someone fighting over a pair of ghastly red heels before, but Black Friday shoppers are a bit on the crazy side.
What are some of the sexiest attempts at video game marketing you've come across?