Long Live Play
Sony has always had a knack for provocative and memorable advertising. From the Mental Wealth ads and the stirring Double Life spot for the original PlayStation, to the bizarre David Lynch directed, Third Place TV campaign for the PS2 and the more recent Kevin Butler commercials, Sony has always known how to get people talking. Their most recent ad is no exception, and based on the buzz it has already created, it may end up trumping them all.
The “Long Live Play” advert is part of a new campaign which is set to bring our favourite video game characters to life, whilst celebrating the people who put them to task: us. The first spot, which has been available online for a couple of days, features 25 famous VG characters from Nathan Drake to Solid Snake. The voice actors are authentic, and for the most part Sony has done a pretty good job of filling the roles with real-life actors who bear more than a passing resemblance to their digital counterparts. The outfits and props are spot on – many of them being sourced from the original developers – and clearly a great deal of care has been taken to ensure that the resemblances are undeniable. Had they not, the ad would have fallen flat and been no better than enthusiast cosplay.
Like all great ads, it doesn’t play its hand straight away, leaving you guessing as to why you are following two WW2 soldiers through a forest. Filling a room with some of the most prominent leads in 16 years of PlayStation history is an outstanding idea, and it makes you wonder why no one had done this before. Despite an odd looking Kratos slightly spoiling the party, it absolutely nails it and has had me in goose bumps each time. It also has the added benefit of being one of those ads that rewards you for repeated viewing, as there are countless references in there that won’t jump out the first time around.
The characters are gathered in a decidedly rural and antique looking pub, sans any actual booze, each recounting stories of their exploits at the hands of an unknown overseer. It culminates in them raising a toast to Michael, who stands-in for all gamers. Apparently, this Michael is no different to you and I, simply being one of thousands of people who responded to a call by Sony to send in a picture of themselves holding a PS3 controller. Could you be the next Michael?
The ad isn’t perfect, but then there is plenty of time for Sony to iron out the creases in what is expected to be an extended campaign. John Marston should have been included, propping-up the bar, and I would love to have seen Yakuza’s Kazuma Kiryu, bottling a Helghast with a shattered pint glass. It could have also benefited from increased realism in the depiction of our beloved heroes and villains. We could have had Old Snake chain smoking in the corner, coughing up a lung. Ever the opportunist thief, Nathan Drake should really be stealing from the cash register and Ezio wouldn’t be able to resist drunkenly stabbing-up a patron – “I swear officer, he was a Templar”. This ad marks the longest Kratos has ever gone without eviscerating someone, rendering it devoid of credibility, and I always had Lightning pegged as a light-weight; she would probably be puking all over herself after one alco-pop too many. Lets introduce some realism, Sony.
I miss the days of confrontational Sega ads, thumbing their nose at the competition and very much assuming the role of the annoying ginger kid from their Dreamcast advertisements. With Sega out of the picture, Sony initially took up the slack, but over the last couple of years, in the UK at least, TV commercials have been rather vanilla affairs, dominated by in game footage and Nintendo's own brand of saccharine, with annoying families crowded around a Wii. The Long Live Play campaign has me excited, and its refreshing to see an impressive video game ad that succeeds as a celebration of gaming, and not by taking the piss out of the competition.
This first entry in the Long Live Play campaign is a love letter to PS3 fans, and gamers in general, and has already made a splash. Its timing is impeccable, in a year that Sony really needs to spread the love amongst its user base. They have taken a number of PR hits in 2011, such as their mishandling of PSN hack and the "no sue" clause in the recent set of PS Terms and Conditions, and these ads should work to win back some much needed goodwill. Long Live Play indeed.