Product placement in video games straddles a fine line. Obviously it’s almost always in the interest of lining the developers’ pockets with a wee bit more cash to put into the project (or, more likely, directly into the execs’ coffers) but that doesn’t mean it can’t be creatively applied. These are, after all, products and images intimately familiar to us since childhood, which thus often invokes certain feelings.
If done tastefully, it can be effective in enhancing a game’s atmosphere – take Pikmin 2, for instance, which had packets of Haribo and Duracell batteries strewn about the game world. At first glance, a shameless plug, but in actuality, these well-known brands littered everywhere were a massive clue to the dark truth about the setting. This murky, almost abandoned planet Olimar and his buddies explore? It’s Earth. Yeah, not so colourful and cutesy anymore, are we, Nintendo?
However, if it’s done poorly, product placement in games has a tendency to stick out like a sore thumb (treatable with the all-new range of Band-Aids, now in several different colours!). See Super Monkey Ball‘s Dole banana tie-in, or Pepsiman, which was in itself an extended exercise in self-shilling. Today’s example, though, is Alan Wake – specifically its recently announced remaster, which looks to be dropping the rampant advertising present in the original.
Yep, as Kotaku reports, it would appear developers Remedy have germinated a smidge of integrity since the 2010 shoot-and-investigate-em-up’s first outing. “[Alan Wake] contained a ton of product placement, including an Energizer-branded flashlight you use in the game to push back the evil. Next month’s remastered re-release removes that and all the other bits of odd product placement,” assures the report. I’m sure the poor Energizer bunny is crying in a corner somewhere.
“You could spot Verizon billboards around the town while playing,” the shameful list continues. “Folks drove around in branded cars, like Lincolns, too. And the most noticeable was the aforementioned branded flashlight Alan Wake wields throughout the game, allowing the author-turned-video-game-star to fight off the evil shadow monsters infesting the town of Bright Falls. Wake even finds Energizer-branded batteries scattered around the world too.” This last instance strikes me as particularly misguided, given that a core mechanic of the game is the frequency with which your torch’s battery depletes. Hardly a resounding endorsement for your product, eh, lads?
Still, even without the flagrant advertising, Alan Wake Remastered promises to be an exciting return to a stylishly presented, action-packed adventure that fans will love. It’s out October 5 on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC via The Epic Game Store. Nintendo users… you know the drill by now.
Are you disappointed or gladdened by this news? Are you an Alan Wake fan? Let us know!