Odd as they may be, these ads are getting the job done!
Whether on YouTube or Instagram, I’m sure you all must have seen at least one mobile game advertisement. One common trope with today’s mobile game advertisements is that they tend to mislead their audience.
You might have come across these weird ads while scrolling through social media: In the ad for the strategy game “Game of Sultans”, a sultan is fat-shaming his daughter; in the match-three puzzle game “Lily’s Garden” ad, women use washing machines as vibrators. The crazy part about both of these is that they have nothing to do with the actual gameplay. If the strangeness of mobile game advertisements has sparked your interest, read on to see three of the most absurd ads and why mobile game companies choose this advertising route.
Nothing is quite as bizarre as the misogyny in the Project Makeover advertisements. In one of its adverts, a girl is sitting on a toilet seat when her date arrives. The player has to make her look presentable for the date, only to end up making mistakes, like shaving her eyebrows off and waxing her legs with duct tape. If this isn’t problematic enough, the other ads for the game go even further by showing the main character covered head to toe in mud and wanting to attract a guy’s attention by undergoing a makeover.
These ads show the main character—a girl—trying to look better for men she either wants or is already going out with. They point out her major physical flaws, like body hair, natural eyebrows or acne, that need fixing. She is always in a chaotic state and progressively gets worse by the end of the ad, so much so that it’s hard not to empathize with her. A Tweet about these ads says, “Somebody needs to free the girl in the project makeover ads why are they doing this shit to her.”
The interactive story game Episode uses sexual elements in many ads to attract customer attention. One of its ads shows the female character in a suggestive pose, with the policeman looking at her inappropriately. In another ad, a man desperately waits for his wife to come out of the bathroom. Unfortunately for him, she has fallen asleep on the toilet, and the only options the story offers are for him to either pee in her mouth or to divorce her.
The ads always feature some sort of sexual prompts or other out-of-this-world options for players to choose from. Redditors often break down these ads’ strange art styles or simply poke fun at them.
Merge Mansion is the final and most famous entry on this list. This match-three puzzle game had such a complex storyline in its advertisements that YouTubers have made videos analyzing them and trying to understand their sequence.
The game’s story goes like this: Your character is a woman who lost her house in a fire, and her fiancé left her at the altar or died in the house fire—it’s unclear which of the two is the real version of the story. After undergoing all this, she decides to move in with her grandmother, only to discover her grandmother is acting suspiciously. The ads all question the grandmother’s actions, with the game’s main tagline being “What’s grandma hiding?”
The game developers have their own YouTube channel dedicated to advertisements ready for the players to watch and re-watch to piece together grandma’s backstory. In one ad, the police arrest the grandma, and as the police car drives away, we see that she has “he is alive” written on the palm of her hand while the granddaughter is looking at her in shock. Other ads of this game also show her baking pies suspiciously or entering secret rooms inside the mansion.
What is going on with mobile game ads?
Now that we have seen three of the weirdest mobile game ads, you might wonder why mobile game companies will use these strange tactics. The simplest and the most accurate answer would be—to attract attention by whatever means necessary.
If we look at these three cases one by one, Project Makeover’s advertisements are trying to make potential players frustrated. This is a failure-based advertising strategy made to make ad viewers feel like they can do better and thus download the game.
Episode’s advertising strategy takes a slightly different approach. It reels viewers in with the promise of experiencing a brand-new sexually charged reality akin to the feeling of reading a Wattpad fanfic, also giving them the opportunity to create episodes out of their own stories.
Finally, Merge Mansion’s attention-grabbing tactic is to build a narrative jam-packed with drama and mystery.
The success of these strategies is evident in the fact that these games have over 50 million, 100 million and 10 million downloads respectively. These weird ads are getting developers and their games a lot of attention on a wide variety of social media platforms; whether it is just people cringing at the absurdity of the ads or genuine interest, it doesn’t matter! The bottom line for these game developers is that if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.
With odd and cringy mobile game ads successfully translating to downloads, we might be seeing more and more companies adopting this tactic to promote themselves. Hopefully, companies work as hard on creating engaging and safe gaming experiences as they do on peculiar advertisements; otherwise, this attention might be hard to hold on to.
- 5 Video Games That Can Make You More Productive at Work
- Gamers Turn To NFT Games to Earn Cryptocurrency
- Optimize Player Experience to Level up Your Gaming Business
- 3 Business Strategies You Can Learn from Elden Ring
Header image courtesy of Pixabay