Celebrities Endorsing Video Games – Does It Ever Work?
It’s not exactly something that happens every day, but there have been a few situations where non-gaming celebrities have endorsed a video-game product, but does it ever work out? When I talk about celebrity endorsements, I don’t mean the typical sports titles such as Tiger Woods and Madden. More specifically I’m aiming at titles endorsed by celebrities that we don’t expect, over that of a title endorsed by the same celeb year after year.
Shamoo! Yes, that’s right. The first one that comes to mind is Michael Jackon’s Moonwalker on the SEGA Megadrive. Although I struggle to remember why I actually enjoyed the game, I have nothing but fond memories running round dancing in circles killing goons. That, and turning into that awesome robot if you hit the comet at the start of the level. Exactly where did that idea come from anyway? But all in all, the game wasn’t a total fail and didn’t really damage Jacko’s reputation.
Cal Ripken’s Real Baseball. This is one that really confused me. Cal Ripken is quite a big name and he does a lot for the sport, especially for the younger generation, yet he endorsed a game call Ultimate Baseball Online (UBO). UBO was around for about 5 years, all of which were officially in a “open beta” period. The game was created by a Korean development team and purchased by an American game publisher, Netamin. The game was infested with bugs, for the entire 5 years that it was online. The catcher was controlled by A.I, pitchers could throw a 120mph fast ball every single pitch (Aroldis who?), and it took a fielder over 3 seconds to throw a ball to the closet base. Bugged MMO titles are nothing new but Cal Ripken endorsed the MMO as a great way for young players to learn the game. Good call.
More recently, Jet Li endorsed a Chinese MMO, The Ninth Sutra. Sadly it’s programmed entirely in Chinese and as we all know, they don’t like us getting on their servers, so I can’t vouch for the quality of the game. But Eric Jou from Kotaku seems to think it could go the distance. Jet Li isn’t featured in the game, and had nothing to do with development, they just use his face in advertising. Nothing like quick buck eh?
And no celebrity endorsement article is complete without Chuck Norris Superkicks. The internet phenomena that is Chuck Norris gained more fame via viral jokes than he ever did in his martial arts career, but even he had a shot at endorsing a video-game. Released on the Atari and Commodore, Chuck Norris Superkicks was a bog standard title for its time, but then it did release the same year as Mario Bros. Sadly, I couldn’t come up with a Chuck Norris joke involving Mario & Luigi.
So what are your thoughts? Can celebrity endorsement actually help a video-game? Or is it just another cheap advertising ploy? Leave a comment and let us know.