The other day I saw a commercial for Call of Duty: Black Ops during a football game. It was nothing special, simply good ad targeting, since there is likely a large overlap in the audiences. What caused me to sit up and take notice however, was the fact that the only platform they advertised it for was the Xbox 360. No mention of the PS3 version, and definitely forget about seeing the Wii version mentioned anywhere. Microsoft clearly pays big bucks for this privilege, but is it right? Anybody who follows gaming at all would know there is a PS3 version in the works, there is plenty of footage around to prove it. The real damage is done on the Wii front, where no official footage has been shown at all. Just yesterday the first leaked images and footage popped up online, shot from shaky cameras on crappy televisions. My question is this, why couldn’t Activision release some high quality footage of the game and treat it as a release they are proud of? Is it because the game is terrible? Unlikely, Treyarch has done a great job porting World at War and the first Modern Warfare to Wii. What’s the issue then? I am thinking that Activision does not want to cause brand confusion. Since the Wii version is not as pretty as the HD version they would obviously want to have the best looking version featured on the commercials.
This lack of information causes problems though. Because unlike the PS3 version, which is basically guaranteed to perform close to the Xbox 360 counterpart, the Wii version is not a given. Instead of being able to check out some footage and see for ourselves we are forced to take a gamble. And by we I mean knowledgeable gamers, ones that even know the game is coming to Wii. A lot of people mistakenly believe that Call of Duty is a hardcore game, but in my experience most of the people who play it are in fact the expanded audience. The same people who play a lot of Madden, people who play games in shorts bursts for a game or two rather than sit down for hours. The Call of Duty games are admittedly addicting though, so those few games can stretch into hours. I would know, my college roommate wasn’t much of a gamer but would sit there and play Modern Warfare on his pc for what seemed like days at a time. Given the game’s potential to the casual, or expanded audience, wouldn’t it make sense to advertise that game on the system with the largest audience? Of course it would, but I doubt we’ll ever see an ad for the game on Wii.
Activision will still sell over a million copies of the game on Wii without advertising at all, just as World at War and Modern Warfare Reflex did. Why spend money when you don’t have to? Well obviously the games have the potential to sell a lot more, given their sales on other platforms. I am not even asking for a commercial really, outside of mentioning every platform that the game is available for, just assets that the press can share with potential consumers so that they don’t feel like they are gambling fifty dollars when they go to the store on launch day. Is that too much to ask?