Feature

Sex Sells: 10 Embarrassing Video Game Ads Of The Mid-2000s

by Joe Juba on Aug 09, 2015 at 12:20 PM

The video game industry has a long and rich history. Sometimes, revisiting the past can be enlightening, entertaining, and even frustrating. Other times, these trips down memory lane only remind you how much things can change. If you think the sexuality in game advertising today is over-the-top (like Kate Upton promoting Game of War), check out how it looked 10 years ago.

Of course, using sex to sell things is about as old as advertising itself. However, you may be surprised how far game ads in the mid-2000s went. They were neither clever nor subtle. Don’t take our word for it – just look at the examples.

All of these scanned ads appeared in issues of Game Informer from ’04 to ’06 (well, all except one, but we’ll get to that). Read on, and get ready to cringe.

(click the ads to enlarge)

Bloodrayne 2
No one really expected anything sophisticated out of Bloodrayne 2, but presenting the character’s breasts as the primary “new features worth noting” tells you a lot about how confident the publisher (the beleaguered Majesco) was in the game.

Bloodrayne 2 (Again)
Yeah, this is basically the same thing as before, but it’s her butt this time. Is the game any fun to play? Who cares?! She’s sexy, guys!

The Guy Game
Apparently, any “red-blooded American guy” loves awkward pornography doled out as a reward for answering trivia questions. At least the ad isn’t misleading, though. As promised, The Guy Game is exactly what you think it is: garbage.

Rumble Roses
Because the important thing isn’t whether you are playing a good game, it’s whether you get to see scantily clad women wrestle in all of their PS2-era graphical splendor.

Leisure Suit Larry
In case you have no idea what Leisure Suit Larry is, this really drives the point home: It has boobs in it. If you think the ad is bad, be thankful you didn’t play the game.

Next: Impractical armor and more.

Champions: Return to Arms
This game is a top-down action/RPG powered by the Snowblind engine, so the final product isn’t quite able to deliver on the titillating visuals of this advertisement. Apparently the side-boob technology of the time just wasn’t advanced enough.

Champions: Return to Arms (Again)
At least she’s wearing armguards in this one?

Hitman: Blood Money
This is the probably the most disturbing of the bunch, because it goes beyond a shallow attempt at sexuality and integrates graphic violence. The implication that a brutal murder is beautiful caused controversy when the ad released.

Sudeki
“Create a strong female protagonist? No thanks – we’re more concerned about teasing the possibility of her getting completely naked.”

NARC
Game Informer ran ads for Midway’s NARC reboot, but not this particular ad. However, the image became infamous in our office because it was featured on some promotional items we received (and subsequently hid on each other’s desks because it was so awful).

For a different look at video game advertising, check out our two-part series on game commercials that spoof other commercials here and here.