Home Gaming Video game adverts, you used to be cool

Video game adverts, you used to be cool

2 min read


If there’s one thing that the video game industry used to have, it’s a sales department with a pair of brass balls the size of a pair of Hummer cars. Back in the day before the Internet took over, they needed to sell you games and do so with the boldest lies possible. And that’s how you ended up with full page adverts from when print was still relative, like these examples.


Here’s a 1990 advert for Crystalis, which I never played due to the fact that I was quite possibly not yet alive at the time. As far as I can tell, it’s a game about fighting the ultimate hairy one-eyed monster while a gigantic toddler re-enacts scenes from Attack on Titan. This is what the game actually looks like:

That looks like Link mixed his washing with red clothing by accident. But you can bet that advertising like that helped sell the game. And that’s what good advertising does. It lies to you about just how marvellous something is going to be, in order to shift those numbers. The clued-up gamer is going to do research before-hand, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t admire the skill and effort that goes into making one of these pages.

Look at Witchaven here, a game from 1995.


Look at how freakin’ badass that night looks perched on top of a column of skulls. That’s the kind of image that deserves a heavy metal music video. These days though, when you need to show off the hero of your game, you get the generic combination of recycled imagery to create this instead:

Call of Duty

Hell, we can’t even get a decent teaser advert these days either. Like Battlefield 3, which released this piece back in the day and tried to play it cool:


Which when compared to these pieces from Final Fantasy 7 or Mortal Kombat II, just doesn’t compare. People hate having to play a guessing game, but making a bold piece like this that hinted towards something epic being on the horizon, while also proudly showing off which game it was going to be, was endearing.


I miss the crazy, experimental ideas that were thrown into adverts.


But I’ll admit that there was a ton of sexism in them as well.


I miss the playful jests of certain adverts, when gamers could still take a joke before the politically correct crowd bitched and moaned those ads into extinction.


But most of all, I just miss the sheer imaginative artistry of these ads.


I know I’m not the only person complaining. Hell, the older guard of the advertising world has been complaining about how clients who need quick results has resulted in a brain drain of sorts where creativity is discouraged in order to get something out by the next day.

There’s no love anymore for these products. It’s all too consumable, and then thrown away. And that makes me sad. Maybe one day we’ll rediscover how one good and creative piece of advertising can help sell a game. But it won’t be anytime soon.

Last Updated: January 13, 2014


  1. I remember seeing the add for MK2 the first time and they were right. Nothing could prepare me for it. Before the internet we only had magazines to fuel our imagination. I would show classmates screenshots from MK1 and would try to describe the game to them best I could. Those were the days.


    • Zubayr Bhyat

      January 14, 2014 at 10:51

      And what a game it was.


      • Hammersteyn

        January 14, 2014 at 10:54

        Kintaro was intimidating as all hell the first time I saw someone fighting him in the arcades. I couldn’t imagine that it was possible to beat him.


        • Zubayr Bhyat

          January 14, 2014 at 10:56

          He was quite a boss hey. Most of the bosses from MK games were quite awesome. Shao Khan was rather fearsome as well.


  2. Alien Emperor Trevor

    January 13, 2014 at 15:43

    I actually had Witchaven. It was one of those old giant game boxes, the cover was badass.


  3. Craig "Crios" Boonzaier

    January 13, 2014 at 15:44

    • Hammersteyn

      January 13, 2014 at 16:04

      Awesome. never saw this.


      • Kensei Seraph

        January 13, 2014 at 16:27

        I’m pretty sure it was on the CD’s.


  4. Dean

    January 13, 2014 at 15:45

    I remember that old Sega Saturn ad. I was the one guy who saw the naked lady 😛


  5. Sageville

    January 13, 2014 at 15:50

    Remember that first game you bought and the utter disappointment when the box-art looked nothing like the handful of pixels in-game. Nowadays we have a cadenza if an in-game screenshot came from a dev environment.


  6. Gareth L (That Guy)

    January 13, 2014 at 15:52

    MK2 is almost TWENTY years old!! 🙁


    • Lupus

      January 14, 2014 at 14:24

      By that you mean is 20 years old :-). I still remember one of the guys at school trying to explain MK to me.


      • Gareth L (That Guy)

        January 14, 2014 at 14:31

        MK1, yes. MK2 was released in 1994. 😉


        • Lupus

          January 14, 2014 at 14:33

          Nope MK 2 was released in 1993, the first one was released in 1992 🙁 scary stuff how fast time flies.

          The home versions were around 1994


          • Gareth L (That Guy)

            January 14, 2014 at 14:34

            Ah, I was basing it on the Megadrive releases. Thanks for that. 🙂

          • Lupus

            January 14, 2014 at 14:35

            NP 🙂

  7. Devourer of Small Bunnies

    January 13, 2014 at 15:57

    Knight* 😉


  8. Devourer of Small Bunnies

    January 13, 2014 at 15:58

    Is that Daikatana I see there. T’was a sad day for gaming indeed


    • Zubayr Bhyat

      January 14, 2014 at 10:53

      well it as a good thing because John Romero’s arrogance got the better of him then.


      • Devourer of Small Bunnies

        January 14, 2014 at 11:38

        And in doing so pissed off almost every gamer on the planet. Smooth. lol


  9. Admiral Chief in Vegas

    January 13, 2014 at 16:06



  10. Lardus-Resident Perve

    January 13, 2014 at 16:08

    *Quickly opens all the “sexism” images*


  11. RinceThis2014

    January 13, 2014 at 16:31

    Craystalis was such an epic game! OMG! I want to play it again!!!!


  12. Macethy

    January 14, 2014 at 08:00

    My major issue is that the advertising world seems to think that a teaser or viral video are cool and that everyone wants to see them, while in actual face they don’t! Just got back to making proper commercials and advertisements, there was nothing wrong with those!


  13. Zeno Daigre

    January 16, 2014 at 03:17

    Guess what? I got this
    MS points card code and
    it got accepted!
    Giveaway is going on
    here http://freemspointsforever.com


  14. GamerGate Developer

    January 6, 2016 at 16:14

    more or less agree with you, it doesn’t matter if there was “sexism” though, some of these are really genious “I miss when he couldn’t keep his hands of me” (in an attempt) to convince us that video games is better than sex, with him standing in a position as though he’s shoving his dick forth and there’s a huge boss on teh screen that reassembles a dick.


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