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Freeze Frame
New Lows in Internet Advertising
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on November 02, 2009   |   Episode 82 (Show Archive)  

   

I'm sure people will pre-order this game the moment they know what it is you're trying to sell!
Alright smart guy, I have a serious question for you. Take a look at that advertisement to the right and tell me what it's for. I'm serious, temporarily stop reading this article and study the picture (I'll wait). Have you figured it out? Of course you haven't, because this advertisement is impossible to decipher. And I'm not just talking about the name, even the box art is a blurry mess of colors and pixels. Is that a dragon? A whirlpool? An autopsy? Who can even tell? Don't adjust your computer monitor; this really is the least effective internet commercial you will ever see.

If you've been spending your time on popular video game websites and blogs, then you've likely seen this baffling advertisement. I took this commercial straight from the Kotaku front page, however I've also seen it pop up on other similar sites. This is a flash animation that offers a glimpse of a far off castle and a scary dragon. Too add to the confusion, it states: "Combine

This clear as day image of the name pops on the screen for no more than two seconds!
fire and sword and embrace your fate as a dragon knight." Alright, that sounds cool and all, but what is it? And why are they switching between using an ampersand and typing out the full word? What's that about? Actually, just tell me what the game is and I'll be satisfied.

Now, before you ask, the advertisement does attempt to clue you into the product's name. As you can tell by the picture to the left, the game's logo is displayed in teeny tiny letters right next to a strange symbol that may or may not be part of the title. Take a look at it and see if you can figure out the name, because even after spending several minutes studying it, I didn't even come close to figuring it out. Can you do better?

In case you're wondering, the name of the game is Divinity II: Ego Draconis. Were you even close? I certainly wasn't. My guess was "Chivity II and Dragons." Sure that's wrong, but I was actually amazed at how close I was. To make matters worse, the actual name (in all

As soon as somebody paints the rest of this guy's legs he's going to run away from the dragon!
its teeny tiny glory) stays on the page for around two seconds. No joke. The advert runs for 15 seconds and only two of those seconds are devoted to the name. That might be fine if you're selling Halo, Grand Theft Auto or some other big name game that is instantly recognizable, but Divinity II: Ego Draconis? It doesn't take Don Draper to know that this is some bad advertising.

It's not like the ad wizards behind this catastrophe had to go far to see the proper way to design a 15 second commercial. On the very page I found this abomination I also discovered commercials for Playlogic's Fairytale Fights and Valve's Left 4 Dead 2. As you can see by the pictures below, both Fairytale Fights and Left 4 Dead 2 offer large logos that are easy to read. What's more, they have iconic images that will remind you of the products they are trying to sell. By contrast, all Divinity II has is a drab background, a generic dragon (that isn't even facing us) and a castle. I would have guessed Castlevania well before thinking of Divinity II. Then again, I would have thought of the Care Bears, Barbie's Horse Adventure and The Orange Box before guessing Divinity II.


So, what exactly is Divinity II: Ego Draconis? According to the GameStop page the advertisement takes me to, it is the "sequel to the award-winning Divine Divinity and Beyond Divinity Role Playing Games." It's from Larian Studios, the Belgium-based software

Maybe if they used this cover art people would actually want to click on the advertisement!
house that developed two (yes, two) other Divinity games before this. This is their first Xbox 360 game, and their first game in five years. And did I mention that it's not coming out this year? That's right, it's not due to hit store shelves until the first week of January (right after everybody has spent all of their money on Christmas).

Then again, who knows how much of that information is accurate. After all, GameStop is notorious for getting release dates wrong and only getting half of their facts straight. At the bottom of the page there's a user preview that says that the game "looks relatively amazing" and that they can't wait to buy "one of Atari's greatest games yet." Wait ... Atari? Despite evidence to the contrary, GameStop says that the game is both developed and published by Atari. Regardless of who is right, that

Of course this advertisement sucks, but at least you know what it's selling!
doesn't change the fact that I had to click on the link in order to take me to a retail site who may or may not have the correct information.

I never thought I would say this, but if Divinity II wants to succeed they should take a cue from Evony. Evony is the painfully bad (and possibly illegal) MMO that is best known for spamming every single website on the internet with scantily clad women who may or may not have anything to do with a game nobody has ever actually played.

In the end I'm not expecting anybody to actually take my suggestions. I'm not somebody who works in an ad agency (I don't drink or smoke enough for that), but I do know that the product should be front and center with an easy to read name. If you can't even do that, then why bother making a commercial in the first place?
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