The Super Bowl Commercials Game


Whew, it’s been a busy couple of weeks. First there was Sundance, which was a blast. I took it easy for my second trip to Park City, seeing only 20 films in the space of four and a half days. I kept meaning to set aside time for some Ramblings after I got home, but was continually sidetracked by a top secret project which consumed most of the week.

I’m back now though, overstuffed after a binge-filled Super Bowl Sunday. Through yesterday’s haze of an exciting football game and an even more exciting array of grilled meats, I made a somewhat disconcerting observation.

There was nary a single video game commercial.

The closest we got was Coca Cola’s “Avatar” ad, another direct nod to the Gamer Generation (remember last year’s GTA-style ad):

It’s not anything new of course. A search through the videos filed away at Superbowl Ads reveals that there hasn’t been a proper game-related Super Bowl ad since before 1998, which is where the database starts. The closest we’ve gotten is this memorable Sony/PlayStation 2 ad from 2001:

Considering that advertising time during the Super Bowl runs in the multiple millions per 30 seconds, publishers may not feel comfortable shelling out when they’re really only going to appeal to a fraction of the audience. The success of the Wii has altered the paradigm somewhat, but selling Wii Fit to a room full of crazed, drunken football fans would be an exercise in futility. Though Sega missed a good opportunity I think; MadWorld would definitely have caught the attention of game-friendly dads who get no use out of their kid’s Wii sitting right below the TV screen.

I’m surprised at the lack of a gaming presence every year, but this time around it seems to resonate more than usual. There are some big ticket titles coming in the next two months. Huge ones, like Sony hype monster Killzone 2, game-turned-movie-turned-multimedia franchise tie-in Resident Evil 5 and vintage juggernaut revival Street Fighter IV. That last one especially: put a flashy new Street Fighter in front of any 30-something you can find, and there’s a strong chance you’ll get be a highly favorable response. Street Fighter II was the Pac-Man of its generation, after all.

Considering that the current state of the economy drives consumers to seek more cost-effective means of entertainment, yesterday’s Super Bowl seemed like it would have been the perfect moment for the video game industry to pounce. To me at least. What do you lot think? Are game publishers smart to steer clear of Super Bowl ad time?


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