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Analysis From 1989 to the present: 6 console launch commercials that left their mark

KyoShiRo330

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Recently, Sony and Microsoft released their ads for the PS5 and Xbox Series. A very important moment of communication for manufacturers, as the new generation of machines will arrive very soon. It's all part of a long tradition in the video game industry, which likes to get creative when it comes to selling a brand new console.


GENESIS DOES WHAT NINTENDON’T - MEGA DRIVE (1989)

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, around the time of the release of the Sega Genesis, Nintendo crushed the competition in the video game field around the world. Its first console, the Famicom (NES), was wildly successful, and the competition is no match. Between 90 and 91, the firm will market the Super Famicom to establish its domination in Japan. But in Japan only. In the rest of the world and especially in North America, Sega will seriously resist, starting the famous war of consoles. Because if the Mega Drive meets a modest success in the native lands of Nintendo, the result is quite different in the United States. Thanks to particularly aggressive communication. This communication is in one sentence: “Genesis does what Nintendon’t” (the Mega Drive does what Big N is not capable of). To prove it, Sega is throwing around images of titles that look much more arcade-like than Nintendo. The company will also rely on celebrities, like Michael Jackson, to convince, with the game Michael Jackson's Moonwalker.



THE SOCIETY AGAINST PLAYSTATION - PS1 (1995)
In its series of promotional videos for its first console, Sony takes the opposite view of the competition with a parody approach. "The Society Against Playstation" is at the helm, trying to educate citizens about the dangers of this terrible machine. Sony is obviously taking the opportunity to show off the - literally - explosive effect of some games, like Destruction Derby, WipEout and Tekken. The whole thing stood out for its surprising approach. And for the anecdote, the French association "Famille de France" attacked several titles with an angle more or less similar to the parody committee a few years later.



THE THIRD SPACE - PS2 (2000)
To promote its PlayStation 2, Sony has not called to just anyone. David Lynch, director of little things like Eraserhead, Twin Peaks and Mulholland Drive, is in charge. We find in the image the cryptic universe of the man: a taste for black and white, phantasmagorical characters, a series of shots that is enough to confuse a lot of spectators. “Welcome to the Third Place,” a duck-headed man said at the end. The Third Space idea actually served as the backdrop to all of PlayStation’s strategy for its new console (which doesn't appear in the Lynch commercial at any time). Sony wanted to highlight the fact that its PS2 opened the doors to a new era for video games. It didn't just end up in the videos, but also in some equally odd looking posters.



THE CUBE - GAMECUBE (2001)
In this ad, Nintendo takes the cubic shape of its new machine, the Gamecube, to insert it into the daily lives of many people. Each shot thus refers to its distinctive format, the most compact for the Japanese firm at the time. Quickly, references of games appear. We can see the first Pikmin, Super Smash Bros: Melee, WaveRace and Star Wars: Rogue Leader. These last two will also be launch titles for the European release of the Gamecube on May 3, 2002. According to IGN, this is the first advertisement broadcast on American television for the console, via the MTV channel, mainly aimed at teenagers.



LIFE IS SHORT - XBOX (2002)
This is arguably the best-known Xbox ad, released in March 2002 to promote Microsoft's first machine. In this one, a baby goes from adolescence to death in no time, expelled into the air from his mother's womb (we expect the sound of the cork of a bottle of champagne popping at that moment , hence the name of the advertisement). At the end, a message remains displayed: “Life is short. Play more ”. The spot was intended exclusively for the European market, and aimed to define the Xbox brand for this audience. But 136 complaints were made, deeming the video "aggressive, shocking and in very bad taste". Finally, the Independent Television Commission decided to ban it in June 2002. However, the advertisement received a Golden Lion at the Cannes Film Festival the same year. At the same time, legal proceedings for plagiarism were underway.



PS5 AND XBOX SERIES (2020)
For the Series X and PS5, the whole thing was done in two stages: first a spot to praise the novelties concerning the sound and the touch (haptic feedback, adaptive triggers and 3D audio), then a video called The Edge for the side “Travel to other worlds”. At Microsoft, we take more or less the idea of The Edge but with a famous actor, Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out), who travels between the worlds of Assassin's Creed Valhalla and Halo Infinite.



Not mentioned, but still well know:


I can't add more than 10 medias so that's it, hope you enjoyed !

This is a translation and an arrangement of this article (in French) by Jeuxvideo.com
 

quest

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Gears of war mad world commercial should of been in there. It shot down the Sony narrative of xbox 1.5 and lead the 360 to massive success against the PS3 launch. That commercial turned the console war with Peter Moore getting third party games same day as Sony.
 

itsjustJEFF

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WOW all those sound bites came from that S.A.P.S commercial :messenger_dizzy: That Nintendo pic with the family tho! I use to always wonder why people in ads never seem to be looking at what they should be, until I was in a photo shoot. It doesn't matter if line of sight is off, they just want to see your face :messenger_tears_of_joy: From then on that is how I directed any of the "talent" i used... still seems so odd to me tho.

Of those two, PS5 and Series S|X, commercials I think the Xbox on is a better commercial. I think it reads better as a video game commercial.
 
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Kuranghi

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FFFFFF, I’d never seen the original language version before. Dear Lord, THE ACCENT! I can barely understand it :messenger_grinning_sweat:

Just summon me on NeoGAF if you need translations from Scottish in the future. I can even tell you what "Grimsby" is lol.
 
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Kuranghi

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I decided, this one is my favourite definitely, it gives me goosebumps listening to it because it takes me back to being 18 years old. I had PS2 preordered since it was able to be preordered. I got that awesome little blue hype-book as well. Fucking awesome...


Fuck I can't even find a picture of it on google, is it super vauable/rare? I hope I still have it somewhere :messenger_grimmacing_
 
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Elder Legend

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what does that have yo do with lame commercials? They are both very safe , very nothing .. you could literally add any product to the end of those commercials.

Whelp..I guess I am the dumb one in this case. I thought you were referring the consoles just being bad lol and they're not even out yet. My b.
 
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-Arcadia-

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Glad the Cube one was in there. Maybe it’s nostalgia, but that was the first that came to mind.

At the time, with all the hype, it was a pretty awesome commercial. It’s surprising that NoA spent the rest of the generation screwing up, after the tone that one set. I’m not sure at all how we got from this to ‘Clean is better than Dirty, and Dirty’s meaner than clean!’
 
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Hulk_Smash

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The lack of Nintendo in this thread is disturbing:

Wii would like to play:


Switch rooftop party:


While not particularly creative, it only had to do two things it it did them well:

1. Show off never-before-seen tech.
2. Wipe the taste of WiiU out of everyone’s mouth.

The make me a believer super bowl commercial was better but this one did it’s job.

Great write-up other than that. my favorites were Genesis does what Nintendo Don’t and the Cube.
 
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KyoShiRo330

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Oh dear OP.

You failed to include the best of them all:

Gears of war mad world commercial should of been in there. It shot down the Sony narrative of xbox 1.5 and lead the 360 to massive success against the PS3 launch. That commercial turned the console war with Peter Moore getting third party games same day as Sony.

Those are great pick that I remember very well ! But I can't add them because I already reached the limit for the number of media :messenger_weary:
 

intbal

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Most Atari Jaguar commercials were crap. Full of 90s "ExTrEmE!!" filmmaking. The only good one was the Doom tv spot, because it made the game look really good.
But here's a different one. Micro-horror in the form of AvP.

 

TGO

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What no Kevin Butler?
Also
This was talked about for months
And probably the worse, but I still like it 😁
 
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A.Romero

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Great thread, first time I've seen most of these. Thanks OP and other contributors.

My favorites as gaming commercials in no particular order:

Jump in (stand off)
Life on the PlayStation
Double life
PS9
Society against PlayStation
Overload
The edge
Us dreamers
Nintendon't

Really well done but could be for things other than games:

Champagne
Crying baby
Mental Wealth

Not that interesting but great for showing off the product:
Wii want to play
Switch
Jaguar AVP

That Dreamcast concept was great but the execution sucked big time. Too bad as I really liked Dreamcast back then.

The only good thing about Cherry was Cherry herself.

The rest are meh.
 

SirTerry-T

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Fact.
Sega Europe during the Megadrive days wrote the rulebook that Sony and everyone else would follow when it came to console advertising.

 
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LarknThe4th

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Playstation 1 era Sony is always the coolest era of them for me, they really tapped into the culture in a profound way

They wouldn't have done that without the blueprint of the Megadrive ads though, that "Genesis does what Nintendont" slogan is still really good
 

Havoc2049

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They didn't leave a mark, but I thought they were cool launch commercials.

Dreamcast: It's thinking

NeoGeo Pocket Color: I'm not boy
 
Oct 26, 2018
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Wow. I never saw that Genesis Does tv ad. I saw the other one with Pat Riley and Joe Montana.

Sega has the best gaming ads ever.

 

The Alien

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Honestly I think the only one that was great was the Genesis. "Sega has what Nintendon't" Genius.

30+ years later, still talking about it.

Most of these others are shit.
Especially the most recent XBox ad...its not good at all. Though I did think the unveil trailer at VGA was pretty great.