Top 5 Video Game Marketing Blunders of All Time and Their Takeaways

January 2, 2023


Game marketing is essential to the gaming industry. It would be difficult for developers to sell their products without it, but not all marketing strategies are successful. Some go horribly wrong.

The following 5 video game marketing blunders are so severe that they’re affecting reputations to this day. But with every disaster comes a lesson. Current game development studios should learn from these mistakes to avoid future controversy and potential financial shortfalls.


1. No Man’s Sky’s False Promises

To Hello Games’ credit, they were able to keep most of their promises eventually, but that wasn’t the case when the game launched. Sean Murry, the managing director of Hello Games, wasn’t media trained and a bit anxious, but he still did interviews on behalf of the team anyway.

Due to the team’s limited budget, they didn’t have much choice. Sony, catching wind of the game, provided funding for the team but allegedly said they’d take it away if the game didn’t make its release date. This was a big reason why the studio released No Man’s Sky unfinished.

No Man’s Sky was a buggy mess that didn’t play as advertised. What resulted was a slew of angry fans, and not just because of the false promises. The game barely worked at launch.


What to Learn From The No Man’s Sky Blunder

While it’s easy to say that the lesson is “be truthful about your games,” a lack of honesty wasn’t the main culprit here. Murry did overpromise, and there was no chance No Man’s Sky was going to live up to the hype, but losing funding from Sony could have made the studio close down.

So yes, be honest with what you’re advertising, hire a media personality to handle PR, and accurately estimate how long development will take. With that said, it’s hard to hate Murry. He did right by his people and continues to update the game, which can’t be said for most studios.


2. CryptoZoo Isn’t a Game at All

The evolution of mobile game monetization is an interesting topic to follow, especially in the game marketing sphere. People flock to Web3 mobile games because they produce a passive income source. While there are many legitimate games out there, CryptoZoo isn’t one of them.

Logan Paul’s NFT game allows players to purchase eggs using in-game currency. These eggs hatch into animals you can breed into rarer hybrids, which generate more coins. Or, that’s how the game would operate if it worked. While this story is still ongoing, it doesn’t look like CryptoZoo will live up to its promises, as developers aren’t currently working on the project.


What to Learn From The CryptoZoo Blunder

Second chances don’t come around often, but Logan Paul got one and immediately squandered it. It’s unclear whether Logan Paul made any money off this venture, but even if he did, his reputation took a massive hit. And when that’s gone, it’s nearly impossible to get it back.

Investors are now left with a game that doesn’t work and coins that are valueless. Influencers should value long-term profits over short-term gains, or it could cost them their livelihoods.


3. The Wii U is Just a Wii Add-On


There have been many failed console launches in video game history. The Virtual Boy, N-Gage, and PS3 are a few examples, but it was often the price that kept consumers away. With the Wii U, the issue was the name. There are still people who think the Wii U console is a Wii add-on.

While this marketing blunder did affect casual players, it didn’t fool long-time adopters or kids who want to learn more about the game. The Wii U didn’t just fail because of the name; it failed because it wasn’t as powerful as other high-end consoles and competed with the mobile gaming market. The Wii U tablet controller was out of date and expensive compared to smartphones.


What to Learn From The Wii U Blunder

Maybe changing the name would help, but a different game marketing strategy would have been more effective. Blaming it on the name sounds like a scapegoat when you compare the Game Boy and Game Boy Advance. The Game Boy Advance still sold well despite the name.

It’s easy to blame a marketing blunder on the consumer, but if the consumer doesn’t understand your product, why they need it, or what makes it different or unique, they won’t care about it.


4. PSP White Model and Racism

Sony has run its fair share of unsavory marketing campaigns. One of these included a sexist PS VITA ad of a 4-breasted woman with the tagline “Touch Both Sides For Added Enjoyment.” That was released several years after their most shocking advertisement, the “PSP White Model.”

The billboard pictured a White woman gripping a Black woman’s chin. The White woman is looking down on the Black woman angrily as she looks afraid. It is hard to imagine what they were thinking when they pitched this ad, as it can’t be described as anything but racist.

This billboard was meant to advertise the new white PSP. While the new color is nice, marketing it in such a way is unacceptable. Fortunately, the ad was pulled shortly after its release.


What to Learn From PSP White Model Blunder

This game marketing blunder is obvious, but this begs the question as to why it was approved. If we gave Sony the benefit of the doubt and said they didn’t know this ad was racist, then they don’t have a team that could tell them otherwise. All teams should have equality consultants.

For example, a racial equity consultant can help clients advance racial equality in the workplace and assess whether an advertisement, work policy, or specific behavior is hurtful or racist.


5. Splinter Cell: Conviction Role Play

To prepare for the upcoming Splinter Cell: Conviction release, UbiSoft decided to dress actors up like the bad guys from the game and walk around New Zealand. These actors wore full tactical gear and carried guns (that had orange tips, but who would take the time to look?).

What happens next is exactly what you’d expect. When the actors were in a New Zealand store, panic ensued, and 911 was diel. Police rushed to the scene, thinking the actors were terrorists. According to reports, police almost opened fire on the actors while they were trying to explain.


What to Learn From The Role Play Blunder

Guerilla game marketing tactics aren’t always a bad idea, but UbiSoft is lucky their actors didn’t get shot. UbiSoft likely pulled this stunt to attract negative press in the first place, so they got what they wanted. All press is good press for some companies, but this ad was short-sighted.

Businesses should read the cultural climate before putting their employees in unnecessary danger. At the very least, they should inform non-actors before recording any footage.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Is Your Business Being Found Online?

Laptop Metrics Colorado

Free Digital Marketing Report ($150 Value)

marketing module lineWant to know how your business stacks up against the competition?

Read more articles about Business.

6 Strategic Marketing Solutions to Enhance Your Brand Image

  Are you looking for ways to boost your brand’s visibility and reputation? Implementing strategic marketing solutions can help you reach a wider audience, enhance your image in the industry, and ultimately increase your sales. From creating powerful visuals to...

7 Effective Tips to Promote Your Financial Advisor Business and Stand Out in a Competitive Market

Personal finance management involves making informed decisions about managing money, budgeting, investing, and planning for the future. You must understand one's financial situation, develop a plan to achieve financial goals, and regularly monitor and adjust that...

4 Reasons to Optimize Your Accounting Management

Did you know that your accounting management can help you increase the efficiency of your business? Optimizing your accounting is a great way to ensure your business runs smoothly and has many benefits. When you optimize this process, regardless if you want a boost to...

Cost-effective Video Remote Interpreting Solutions

Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) is a face-to-face communication service that allows interpreters to interpret simultaneously at remote locations. When video conferencing was introduced, it made it possible for interpreters to get their jobs done even when they were...

Product Mockups: A Crucial Component to Branding and Marketing Success

Mockups are a visual representation of a product created before the product is produced. It can test and evaluate design ideas and showcase a final product's appearance. Mockups are also popular in marketing campaigns and help businesses showcase their products or...

Interesting Facts You Need To Know About Roofing SEO

Today, there are a huge number of various roofing companies, so it's a challenging task to stand out and beat the competition. Still, you can use the advantages of SEO (search engine optimization) and find a way to take the top spot for yourself without the necessary...

Here’s Why Hiring a B2B Marketing Agency Can Be Invaluable to New Business Owners

  As a new business owner, you might have discovered by now that it is not just individuals that can be customers but also other businesses.  This realization opens up a lot of options due to the increased opportunity for income due to the larger transaction...

The Top Lead Generation Strategies to Boost Your Business’s Revenue

Are you a business owner looking for ways to get more leads and increase your revenue? If so, then you’ve come to the right place! In this blog post, we’re going to dive into some of the top-notch lead-generation strategies that can help boost your business’s...

Read more articles about business.

Why Outsource Your IT Support? 7 Reasons & Benefits

Why Outsource Your IT Support? 7 Reasons & Benefits

Your IT resources are a major asset to your organization when they’re working well. But as soon as something goes awry, they can become a burden. While you can attempt to fire-fight your tech woes internally, it’s often better to outsource IT support to a third-party...

What Do You Need For Creating A Good Online Course

What Do You Need For Creating A Good Online Course

You might be overwhelmed with all the technology and tools to help you build a strong educational program. But before worrying about which platforms and technologies to use, it's essential to focus on what matters most: content. The success of any online course rests...

6 Benefits of Low-Code Development for Non-Technical Businesses

6 Benefits of Low-Code Development for Non-Technical Businesses

  Are you tired of always being at the mercy of technical experts for your business's application development needs? Probably it’s a good time to turn to low-code development platforms. These innovative tools enable businesses to create custom applications...

Share This