Game marketers held their equivalent of the Emmy Awards yesterday in San Francisco, and a $500 ad from Paradox Interactive walked away with the funniest award for its Leviathan: Warships “Jazzy Trailer.”
Overall, Ubisoft won 27 awards at the Game Marketing Awards (winners here) at the Game Marketing Summit event. Ubisoft won for Game Marketing Team of the Year while Midnight Oil won for Game Marketing Agency of the Year. The awards showed that both scrappy creativity and huge marketing muscle rule in the video game business.
The Leviathan: Warships, with a sexy voice over by “Jazz Boatman,” was a reminder that standout advertising doesn’t need to be expensive. In the ad, jazz music plays while scenes from the ship-combat game run. A sexy voiceover says things like “Blow up some ships. You’ve earned it,” “Ship just got real,” and “You’re gonna ship yourself.” It jokes that “the money we saved on voiceovers we put into the game.
The awards drew a few hundred marketers from the game industry, which takes its marketing very seriously as the linchpin for drawing larger audiences to games that have hundreds of millions of fans and tons of competitors for player time.
The Leviathan ad was so successful that Paradox created its own downloadable content (DLC) with more Jazz Boatman tunes.
Ubisoft won for campaigns for both Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. With the latter game, Ubisoft used a real pirate ship to publicize the game at the Comic-Con event in San Diego, Calif.
Tony Key, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Ubisoft, said in an interview with GamesBeat that the tactics for game marketing are in flux.
“It seems like the big new item we’re all trying to embrace in a smart way right now is harnessing the power of user-generated content, using that content to help tell your story,” he said.
He said that Twitch livestreaming is the “single most disruptive feature for a marketing person right now.” As for creating ads, Key said, “A big launch can involve a dozen trailers or more. We put a lot of effort into those. That’s how people tend to learn about games nowadays, from a marketing perspective. They like to watch trailers. We’ve traditionally done very well with the quality of our trailers. They’re conditioned to get into that.”
Sony also won for some memorable TV ads like its “Greatness Awaits” ads with live-action video game characters in funny combat scenes.
Activision Blizzard won for “best showing at a trade event” for its huge booth at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, which included a 125-feet video screen that played trailers of first-person shooter Call of Duty: Ghosts and action-role-playing game Diablo III with earth-shaking music.
ArenaNet’s Guild Wars 2 picked up an award for dressing up cab drivers like characters in the game and then filming conversations with hidden cameras.
“On behalf of the GMS Board of Governors and IDG World Expo, I want to applaud all of the 2014 GMA winners,” said Mary Dolaher, the chief executive of IDG World Expo, the owner of the Game Marketing Summit. “Each recipient was selected by their peers against their own high standards of excellence, underscoring the fact that these companies and the individuals behind them are truly the best of the best in the uniquely challenging game marketing business.”
John Smedley, the president of Sony Online Entertainment, said in a session that livestreaming on Twitch is the best way to directly reach large audiences of gamers with authentic demos and conversations about new games.
Appropriately enough, the summit named Kym Nelson, the senior vice president of sales at livestreaming firm Twitch, as co-chair of the organization’s board. Her fellow co-chair is Carolyn Feinstein, the senior vice president of global consumer marketing at Electronic Arts.
Marci Yamaguchi Hughes, the general manager of the Game Marketing Summit, said it drew more than 550 people, the most in the event’s nine-year history.
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare won for “best key art.” I tweeted that I didn’t think many people care about this category. But Peter Moore, the chief operating officer at Electronic Arts, tweeted back that he cared about key art, which are the assets for physical stores and video game packages. John Vechey, the general manager of PopCap Games, also tweeted that he also cared about the “best key art,” as it was created by PopCap, and he was hurt by my tweet.
The winners were selected by a jury of world-class interactive entertainment marketing professionals. I’ve included a Leviathan trailer below as well as two videos I shot of a session on inspiring advertising.