20 of the Best Video Game Ads, Ever

By Matt Van Hoven 

Some hard-lining Christian types call video games a tool that keeps men from doing better things with their lives. We call them ‘Monday nights with the guys’. Though enriching one’s life with volunteer work and philanthropy is probably a good thing, there’s no guarantee it’ll get you into Heaven. So, why not enjoy what little free time you have by pwning some bitches with a digital character you could never hope to be?

Along with the games are their campaigns, and after the jump we’ve posted some of the best. We compiled these with the help of our Twitter followers, many of whom are as-big-or-bigger gaming nerds than we are. After the jump, enough trailers to keep you busy til 5. There’s 20, so settle in.


(Note: We’ll go from our least favorite to the best, from top to bottom. Let us know if we missed any at agencyspy[at]mediabistro[dot]com)

More:Video Games as Mass Medium for Your Ads

Little Big Planet &#151 pitched as a game for anyone who likes fun, Little Big Planet is a Plastation 3 title that flamed out a few months after its release. The open concept made it worth buying and trying, but landed it in the ‘trade-in’ pile when stores like GameStop began offering higher trade values for new games, during the height of the recession.

Guitar Hero is etched into the gaming world as an industry-changing title. This execution with Heidi Klum is hot, but the ‘Risky Business’ theme has since been overdone with Playboy Playmates, and a handful of other celebrities.

World of Warcraft has more online players than any other game, ever. A couple years ago it was up to 9 million, which prompted a series of ads with celebrities talking about which player they are. Here, Verne Troyer gets on about being a Maje. It’s pretty priceless.

Killzone 2 is sort of a play on the Iraq war, with a large ‘western’ force invading a nation assumed to be full of people who would either welcome an armed force or not care. Like Iraq, Killzone’s good guys were wrong &#151 about how willing the locals were to fight.

Wet has you playing a sexy female, and the trailer makes a point to highlight that with their musical-ad, ‘Shot at Love’ where a bunch of guys who the main character has killed sing about how much they love her, as they’re about to die. Classic.

Halo ODST is an unnecessary extension to the Halo franchise. It was the second attempt to extend the life of Halo 3, which had one of the most legen-dary campaigns of all time (‘Halo Wars’ being the first, though it wasn’t a first-person shooter like the others). More on that later. This ODST spot played on 3’s style, using real people to tell the story of the war as it would have been experienced by the masses &#151 if it were real. Halo 3 did a much better job, but this piece made many hearts flutter as memories of its monumental predecessor came flooding back.

Mercenaries/2 took a departure from the typical melodramatic with the original “Blow crap up” ad and another called “Oh no you didn’t” for the follow up, Mercenaries 2 (as a reader reminded us). These pieces are fun, mostly.

(Blow crap up)

(Oh no you didn’t)

On the flip side of funny, Gears of War/2 is a series you’ll want to pay attention to for its dramatic ads. This was one of the first deeply moving, eye-opening campaigns, that tied voice or music to a clip that was beyond compelling. For that reason, we’re sharing two of them.

(Mad World)


Dante’s Inferno is simultaneously the epicenter of the why-people-thing-video-games-are-evil and probably the best representation of hell ever created, since Dante Alighieri first described it and its nine circles in his Divine Comedy so many centuries ago. The draw of this single-player-wielding-sword game was more for the opportunity to see how Visceral Games put Hell together than it was to kill demons, but that wasn’t a bad thing either. I haven’t played it or heard much about the title lately, but the theatrical aspect makes the trailer more than worth watching.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare/2 is part of a franchise that was built on World War 2 battle re-enactments. Though it was fun to play with M4s and throw grenades shaped like flashlights, players soon bored of being stuck in the 40s. The Modern Warfare aspect was introduced a few years ago to show players what the military has been up wince the Band-of-Brothers era ended. The result: pure awesome, which players previewed in gameplay-heavy trailers &#151 and a comical back and forth between two friends anticipating MW2’s release. The second title, Modern Warfare 2, was intentionally built like a movie, both to keep the game moving and further blur the lines between active and passive entertainment. See ads for both 1 & 2, below.



We conclude with ads for the XBox/Xbox360-only Halo franchise, which lasted for the better part of this century’s first decade, and owns what is arguably the best video game (and maybe entertainment) campaigns to date with Halo 3. ‘Believe’ began with a series of short films with veterans of the great war recounting memories of their service, usually making mention of the game’s main character Master Chief, aka John 117. The story line was about how humankind endured the struggle for survival, and in an effort never to forget they built a museum and a model recreation of the final battle for survival. What you see is the story of making that happen, as well as live-action scenes of the ‘historic’ war. Using live-action scenes awed audiences and built anticipation for the game, though some would later say the campaign was better than the game itself. There are many pieces here.



(Two Heroes)


(The John 117 Monument)

(Arms Race)

Update: We’re sure to get some add-one, which we’ll just paste below.