Greatest videogame ads of 2008

Love it or hate it, advertising is a huge part of the society and culture we live in. Though so many adverts seem to be little more than the malevolent machinations of corporate bigwigs trying to squeeze every last uninspired penny out of unwitting consumers, there are some real gems of genius and creativity out there that cut head and shoulders above the rest.

This article started out as a “Top 10 Ads of 2008” kind of piece. However, part way through writing it, I realized that there has been so much quality advertising over the past 12 months that even the decision of what to include, let alone what order it should go in, would be utterly arbitrary (not to mention unfair). As such, here is the list, in no particular order, of our favorite game advertisements from 2008 – and we’ll leave it up to you to decide which the best are.

Mercenaries 2: World in Flames

Plain a simply, this ad is just a big hunk of fun — which is good, because the last thing anybody wanted from Mercs 2 was another pseudo intellectual, Anglo-American deconstruction of modern warfare practices. Instead, we have in front of us a game with its tongue lodged firmly in its cheek. All elements of this advert go against the grain and undermine expectation. The song is unusually light hearted for the genre (not to mention infuriatingly catchy), furthermore the actual content of the ad captures the good-humored carnage of the game and the visual execution of it all is flawless.

What is also nice about this ad is that it uses pre-rendered CGI that is obviously beyond the capabilities of the game itself but that doesn’t actually seem to matter. The quality of the composition is such that it’s possible to appreciate what else the ad is trying to do – rather than just seeing it as a lie about what the end-product is will do.

Left 4 Dead

Valve have proved through Left 4 Dead that it not only knows how to make great games, but great advertising too. Like so much of Valve’s other work, this advert manages to be dark and sinister while also undeniably comical and refreshing. I defy anyone to read the tagline “It’s the zombie apocalypse. Bring friends.” and not feel just that teensiest bit of Shaun of the Dead excitement.

Valve spent the best part of $10 million advertising Left 4 Dead and building its brand, which arguably it needed. Any game that relies on multiplayer to the extent of Left 4 Dead needs a strong community and a powerful brand for said community to rally around.