The most misleading game ads of all time

Traditionally, a videogame advert is supposed to highlight its product’s strong points in a concise, well-edited package that screams to impressionable consumers: “Buy me, and all my officially-endorsed peripherals!”. That, or be a 30 second, cynically-produced tapestry of lies made to trick and entice people with big explosions, misleading FMV and lady parts.

The latter is the sure-fire path to tread if you’re a smarmy ads guy who knows they’re peddling pump. Thank the good lord the following game publishers would never stoop to such money-grabbing lows … oh.

Naughty, naughty EA. Who got caught by the British Advertising Standards Authority for telling sizable, Xbox-shaped lies in their ads? That’s right, while the Wii may be the generation’s media darling, no one ever wants to talk about its dark, terrible truth. It looks royally pap on TV. And imagine how bad EA thought the Wii version of Tiger Woods looked that they chose to use 360 footage instead.

Worse, they slapped Tiger with Wiimote in hand over said footage - bearing his trademark ‘I’ll sell any old shit for endorsements’ grin. Needless to say BASA weren’t too pleased when they found out the Wii game looked comparable to, oh say, the below.

EA’s considered response was priceless. The publishing giant, in a vein excuse to justify why they used the 360 verison, claimed footage from the Wii version “was not of broadcast quality”.

A cynical ploy to fool impressionable gamers into buying their product it may have been, but Tiger on Nintendo’s little white box remains a decent game. And the successful motion controls arguably add more to the experience than any HD graphics could. Cheaters never prosper, though, and the BASA quickly pulled the ad from British screens.

What’s more epic than superheroes blowing up giant robots, levitating cop cars and Patrick Stewart’s booming tones in the background?

We suspect the answer’s not a top down brawler that lets you unleash the awesome power of Wolverine’s adamantium by slashing bins.

With fugly visuals and uninspired button bashing, Legends hardly lives up to the moniker ‘The X-Men game we’ve been waiting for.’ And, with nary a shred of in-game footage, the final commercial is nothing but a Marvel fanboy’s wet dream. What. A. Lie.

We can just picture the Microsoft ad guys’ pitch for this one.

Ad guy number 1: “So how do we convey to the consumers that this is going to be the Chief’s most desperate, epic fight for the fate of mankind ever? Ideas people.”

Ad guy number 2: “How about we put together a Hollywood-shaming reel of in-game footage combining tightly edited music, cutscenes and imagery?”

Ad guy number 3: “What about showing an in-game Master Chief struggling through a series of life or death battles with the Covenant?”

Ad guy number 1: “Nah, screw all that work. Let’s just film all those Halo toys we’ve got around the office.”

Bravo boys.

Hundreds of Covenant and human forces battling it out. UNSC troops actually killing some bad guys. A sprawling, open-ended battlefield. So much of the ad hints at an experience far more epic than what gamers could actually play.

Don’t get us wrong, Halo 3 is still a really solid and enjoyable FPS. But, unlike the ad, it never feels epic. Don’t believe us? Well, watch the following footage of the last boss fight. We’re fairly sure those hopes of a ‘Believe’ ad-style sprawling finale last as long as it takes to blow up the tiny robot.

Halo 3’s ‘Believe’ advert was just one of many examples of an overly-important marketing campaign. A campaign that lost sight of what its game could actually deliver to its audience.

David Meikleham
Google AMP Stories Editor

David has worked for Future under many guises, including for GamesRadar+ and the Official Xbox Magazine. He is currently the Google Stories Editor for GamesRadar and PC Gamer, which sees him making daily video Stories content for both websites. David also regularly writes features, guides, and reviews for both brands too.