The 1990s were an awesome decade for video games. Especially video game advertising; sure gaming had firmly established itself as big business up to that point, and there had been several different console wars already. But it was in the ’90s in which things truly went to the next level. It was also the time in which video games firmly entrenched themselves as a force to be reckoned with in entertainment. The following are the 15 best commercials of gaming in the 1990s, many of which offered a glimpse into the landscape of gaming as a whole during that decade.
The final system to mark the 90s was SEGA’s Dreamcast, their last hope at staying relevant in the increasingly competitive console market. Their American campaign was a nice breath of fresh air, but I’m featuring the one above from Japan, for Chu-Chu Rocket, since it was one of the first game related videos to be a hit online. Which at the time was starting to be the next big thing (and change the face of everything, including video game advertising). Too bad its popularity online did not translate to dollar signs at the cash register.
The weirdness above came late into the PlayStation’s life cycle and marked a sign of things to come. The Sony marketing machine had become high off the fumes of success, and the end result were commercials that tried way too hard to be esoteric. Later highlights would include advertising the PS9 to promote the PS2, a crying toy baby to sell the PS3, and a white woman choking out a black woman to peddle the PSP.
After years of crappy “me too” advertising, Nintendo finally found its footing with their N64 Smash Bros commercial. It was the perfect combination of all the things that appealed to all audiences: the kids got their favorite mascots running around, and the adults got the enjoyment of watching those mascots beat the ever living crap out of each other.
The late 90s is when the Sony PlayStation was hitting its stride, targeting an even older demographic, which involved calling attention to the studios that made their games. Much like mentioning the director of a movie, giving a nod to the studio was rather revolutionary at the time. Nobody adds cheer to the holiday season quite like a demented clown and his band of minions.