Quick: What does a mud-encrusted person, graffiti, a dude firewalking in an alley, and a lady swimming through an underwater dining room have in common? The answer: Absolutely nothing. A very distant second answer: They’re in Guild Wars 2′s “launch ad.”
I assume you’ve seen it. It’s hard not to. It’s by far one of the… weirdest marketing ads I’ve seen for an MMO, and I’m doubly flabbergasted that it came from ArenaNet. Putting aside the logic of releasing a launch trailer two weeks after its launch, this is just bizarre avant-garde crap. It’s like something you’d see from pretentious film students, really. Just slap together a lot of artsy shots that don’t have anything to do with each other, but be bold enough to release it so that people feel stupid not “getting it” and then struggle to apply some sort of logic so as to feel better about it. If you haven’t guessed, I really, really don’t like this type of thing.
I’m not against doing live action for an MMO trailer/commercial — it’s been done, and even done effectively. But again, this is Guild Wars 2′s launch trailer. This should be exciting and, I don’t know, more than 10% about the game itself. There’s no narrative here, despite what the voice-over might make you think. It’s a launch trailer about a fantasy MMO, and most of it features live action people in a very contemporary setting doing nothing that has anything to do with GW2. Is this really from the studio that’s brought us a whole bunch of kick-butt videos, starting with the manifesto? It’s like a whoopee cushion at the end of an opera.
I’ve heard a couple theories on it. I’ve heard that it’s just weird to get people talking; mission accomplished, but I don’t know how much the thought of “These are weird people and I should stay far, far away from them” helps the cause of sales. I’ve heard that it’s not for gamers, but for the mainstream, to sell them the game. That doesn’t pan out either, because it’s got to be just as weird and nonsensical (if not more so) for non-gamers, and it’s a launch trailer. Remember TSW’s launch trailer? I do. That thing was a masterpiece, and it was all about the game, showing in-game footage. That made sense.
This… I’m just reeling. And according to a bunch of “What the what?” discussions on Twitter, I’m not alone.
It’s just a trailer, who cares, I know. But this is a big whiff when it should’ve been a grand slam for a terrific game.