Video games have been used as a way to market products and promote well-known brands for decades. Licenses are obtained and developers get to work on a title that appeals to the target demographic. Releases such as Pepsiman and Kool-Aid Man helped advertise popular beverages, however, food companies will often use video game marketing campaigns to promote their brand.
When licensed video games are created, heavy branding reminds players of the game’s intent. Other titles will subtly include logos or product references and food companies merely provide funding or the rights for the game’s development. From toddlers to teenagers, fast-food to cereals, many consumers are susceptible to marketing and video games are an effective medium to promote popular products and reach most age groups.
10 Smarties Meltdown Created Nostalgic Memories
In 2006, Nestlé’s Smarties got their own video game for the Playstation 2. The third-person adventure game takes place in an industrial sci-fi environment on a factory spaceship orbiting Earth. Gamers play as Big Blue and must rescue all of the friendly Smarties from Dr. Soursweet and his army of Stroopers.
The Smarties game wasn’t popular with teenagers because it wasn’t visually appealing nor was it challenging. This led to a number of bad reviews for the game. However, despite the basic mechanics and simple gameplay, the title managed to attract a younger audience and is now a nostalgic memory for many gamers.
9 Taco Bell: Tasty Temple Challenge Promoted The Fast Food Chain
The popular Mexican-style restaurant released Taco Bell: Tasty Temple Challenge in 2000, which was given away with certain meals. Gamers play as Baja Bill in this first-person adventure game and go in search of the grande meal. Players eat Taco Bell products to replenish heath and collect spicy sauce to use against enemies as they progress through the stone temple.
Although the game is somewhat repetitive, it provides some memorable entertainment. It also appears to have been influenced by popular titles, Tomb Raider and Doom. This effective replication appealed to the gaming community and still promoted the fast-food chain.
8 M&M’s Kart Racing Received A Bad Reception
The popular candy, M&M’s, teamed up with Frontline Studios to create M&M’s Kart Racing for the Wii and Nintendo DS. Gamers race as their chosen miniature candy character and collect chocolate coins as they race around each track. The 2007 release received a bad reception due to its uninteresting courses, irritating voice-overs, and long loading times.
The title’s poor graphics put people off and many gamers struggled to take the game seriously. However, the racing game also incorporates stunts and jumps, as well as coffee boosts which can help secure a last-minute victory. The local multiplayer mode also allows friends to play together on split-screen which adds to the excitement. Although widely disliked, the game did succeed in promoting the chocolate treats to Nintendo gamers.
7 Doritos Crash Course Has A Huge Replayability Factor
Originally released for Xbox 360, Doritos Crash Course is a platform game where gamers play as their own Xbox avatar. Gamers race against each other and avoid swinging hammers and oncoming water balloons as they run, jump, and slide to reach the end of each course. The faced-paced action and comedic bails amplify the thrilling gaming experience.
Playing with friends gives the game a huge replayability factor and players would retry courses to beat their friends’ best time. The free release was a huge hit with gamers of all ages, and although little branding is seen throughout the game, Doritos succeeded in reminding gamers that their tasty tortilla chips still exist.
6 Sonny’s Race For The Chocolatey Taste Was Found In Boxes Of Cocoa Puffs
In the early 2000s, the CD-ROM for Sonny’s Race For The Chocolatey Taste was found in boxes of Cocoa Puffs cereal. Gamers play as the product’s mascot, Sonny, and try to make it to the finish line through a series of extreme sports. Players must rack up a score by collecting golden coins and pieces of chocolatey cereal.
The game encourages children to start their day properly as players must also collect milk, orange juice, and bananas on each course. At the time, the General Mills cereal was not made with Hershey’s cocoa, and the game was released to remind consumers that Cocoa Puffs still packed a chocolatey taste.
5 McDonald’s Treasure Land Adventure Was Released In 1993
The 2D platform game, McDonald’s Treasure Land Adventure, was released for the Sega Genesis in 1993. Gamers play as the fast-food chain’s mascot as they progress through all four magical stages with each level more elaborate than the last. Ronald casts magic at enemies and uses his scarf to reach higher ground.
The licensed 16-bit game looks similar to Sonic The Hedgehog and Super Mario Bros. Upon release, the title received positive reviews for its fluidity and addictive gameplay. Familiar anthropomorphic beings are seen in the game, such as Grimace and Hamburglar, who were also featured in McDonald’s TV commercials during the 1990s.
4 Cap’n Crunch’s Crunchling Adventure’s Main Goal Was To Advertise
Sony Computer Entertainment published Cap’n Crunch’s Crunchling Adventure in 1999, and the game’s CD-ROM was included in double packs of the cereal. Gamers choose a crunchling to raise and must maintain their happiness and hunger levels by feeding it different Cap’n Crunch products. Players must also train their crunchling by completing repetitive minigames.
As the stats slowly increase, the crunchling will get bigger until it’s fully grown. At that point, players can challenge the crunchium thief at each of the minigames to save Crunchium City. In the end, there is no real sense of achievement. The game lacks substantial context as well as any obvious storyline. It’s clear the promotional game was aimed at a young audience and its main goal was to advertise the Cap’n Crunch product line.
3 Darkened Skye Featured Subtle Hints Of Skittles
Skittles TV commercials in the 1990s barely made any sense, but the aim was to entertain viewers and attract an older demographic. The same logic was applied to the 2002 game, Darkened Skye, a fantasy-adventure RPG where Skittles are the source of magic. Players must collect Skittles and combine them to use different spells and progress through each level.
Gamers play as Skye, the game’s protagonist, who is often joined by her gargoyle sidekick, Draak. The two have some amusing tongue-in-cheek moments that give the game a memorable sense of humor. During development, the game started to look better as a stand-alone release, but the license agreement was already finalized and the subtle hints of Skittles remained. The initial intent was to make a game that promoted the candies, but the brand’s presence fizzled out in the late development stages.
2 Chester Cheetah: Too Cool to Fool Was The Brand’s First Video Game
In 1992, the cheese puff mascot appeared in his first video game, Chester Cheetah: Too Cool to Fool. The promotional side-scrolling platform game was released on the SNES and Sega Genesis. As the story goes, the furry feline is being held against his will at Four Corners Zoo by the antagonist, Mean Eugine.
Although players control the famous cheetah, there isn’t much advertisement in the game. Chester’s health points resemble the edible snack but there is no noticeable Cheetos branding. At the time, Chester Cheetah was becoming a star and he even had a canceled TV show, Yo! It’s The Chester Cheetah Show, which never aired. However, the game’s successful reception led to a sequel, Chester Cheetah: Wild Wild Quest.
1 Sneak King Was A Popular Burger King Game
Sneak King is a stealth-adventure game that was released alongside two other free Burger King games in an attempt to promote the brand and its products. Gamers play as The King himself and deliver sandwiches to hungry unsuspecting clients around various urban environments. Players must take into account their noise levels and remain unseen by other NPCs.
Each successful delivery results in an amusing dance by the creepy protagonist as well as points based on the player’s performance. The 2006 game was considered by some to be ahead of its time. After the promotion, it was even possible to buy a physical copy of each game due to the high demand.
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