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Written by Worm Mad
Hello, all. Yes, it's me again. The maddest thing to come out of Britain since all those cows started acting peculiar. It's been a while since my last article, but hopefully this one will make up for it. Today, I'll be looking at the hostility that was vented towards the Red Bull utility in Worms 3D, upon its release, and whether this criticism was in any way justified.
It was Bristol-based agency, Hive, that was responsible for working with game companies, Rebellion and Team17 on branding deals with Red Bull. Both Rebellion's Judge Dredd: Dredd Vs Death and Team17's Worms 3D featured the energy drink as a health boosting power-up, as a result of this arrangement. However the reaction to this particular form of branding was met with criticism and derision by certain members of the Team17 Forum community, as seen below...
"I don't like the idea of team17 building ads in to a game THAT I PAY MONEY FOR!"
"The effect of a Red Bull, in game, is not my problem! Of course its useful but why not call it 'potion of power' or something like that instead of advertising red bull. It's purely because I don't like this trend that you need ads in games."
However, is this really fair? Computer games are notoriously expensive to make and sometimes sales from games alone aren't enough to finance game companies' expenses (especially with publishers and retailers taking a large percentage of the profits). The kind of product placement, seen in the inclusion of Red Bull in Worms 3D, can provide developers with a much-needed second source of revenue.
What's more, the method of inclusion in Worms 3D is subtle. A utility that recovers your health, makes you faster and gives you the ability to jump further is one that would be useful to have in the game, whether or not it was titled red bull. As William Shakespeare once wrote, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet". Thus the appearance and name of the utility in question should be seen as fairly irrelevant, when compared to the actual use that the utility has. Also, the Red Bull utility is fairly rare so it isn't really as if the game is bombarding you with advertisements.
Some would see the inclusion of a product like Red Bull in a game like Worms 3D to be a sign of the growing decline of video gaming. But what's the difference really between the inclusion of Red Bull in Worms 3D (which is seen as promoting the energy drink) and the fire-punch and dragonball weapons in the original Worms (which could equally be seen as promoting Street Fighter 2 - the game that the moves originally appeared in)? The only difference as far as I can see, is that Team17 didn't get paid for their inclusion of the fire-punch.
Also, for all those people who still say that this so-called development will spell the end for the integrity of the videogame industry, I say "What development?". After all, product placement has been appearing in games for a very long time now. In James Pond 2: Robocod, penguin chocolate bars were integral to the plot and appeared throughout the game. Similarly, Pushover featured the Quavers crisps mascot as well as the crisps themselves and yet both of these games were still highly enjoyable. Both of these games, as with Worms 3D, struck a good balance between maintaining product placement and retaining a good quality of gameplay, which is more than can be said of 1992's risible McDonald Land. Product placement isn't even new to Team17 itself, Superfrog was littered with Lucozade power ups. And yet Lucozade isn't what people remember Superfrog for. They remember it for the quality of its gameplay. And as long as Team17 maintain that factor, then where's the harm in a few well-placed ads? TV and film have both managed it, and the last I heard they're still going strong.
Worm Mad out..