Sony’s PS4 Pro is now on the shelves as is the Nintendo NES Classic Edition console—setting the stage for eager gamers to pick up new titles and remember what they loved about previous ones. On that note, Ubisoft will release Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection—a remastered trio of games for current-gen consoles and PC that will get fans excited for the upcoming film. When it comes to hype, Ubisoft and Nintendo have gone all out for two titles that release this week through a string of promotions ranging from music videos to TV tie-ins.
Watch Dogs 2
In 2014, Watch Dogs became the biggest first-day sale of an Ubisoft game and the biggest launch of a new IP ever in the United Kingdom at the time. So when Ubisoft set out to promote the game’s sequel, this publisher went big—like, real-life hacking big. Watch Dogs 2 is a tale of harmful government surveillance, the Internet of Things (IoT) and an underground hacking group called Dedsec. Ubisoft partnered with Major League Hacking, an organization that hosts, sponsors and advertises a series of hacking competitions around North America. Hacking teams are offered challenges inspired by Watch Dogs 2, with the winners receiving free copies of the game. At the end of the year, the fastest time out of all events will win a trip to Montreal to meet the Watch Dog 2 developers.
On October 13, Ubisoft invited game fans to an interactive tour of a smart home outfitted with HAUM, the in-game connected home technology used in Watch Dogs 2. The tour was captured on surveillance cameras and streamed live on Facebook and YouTube, where online fans were invited to “hack” everything in the home from the lighting to the music and even the temperature. The event attracted more than 350,000 impressions during the event, according to Lucile Bousquet, senior director of marketing and communications for Ubisoft Canada. To make the event seem more real, Ubisoft coordinated with Canadian news outlets, TSN and RDS, working with Bell Media to simulate the sites being hacked. Bousquet told Media In Canada that as a result, 50 percent of traffic to Ubisoft’s site on October 13 was from TSN and RDS.
Continuing the “Dedsec R3sistance” campaign, Ubisoft invited social media users to take a closer look at what they post online. The “Selfie Reveal” analyzes` a user’s photo based on details like head tilt, gender, age, background and emotional state. Apparently “Big Data” thinks I’m a 30-year old egomaniac without a mustache, which I can totally live with. Other details are a bit creepy, though, which is the point—reminding you that social media sites can often use your selfie for advertising without your permission, that the government can use facial recognition to locate you and other disturbing but true factoids to get you in the mood to join a resistance.
Just when you thought you couldn’t get more paranoid, Ubisoft partnered with Vice for a documentary series about “Big Data” and how online information can be used against us. Fans who want to “join” the fictional hacker group can sign up on the Ubisoft website to receive exclusive in-game items, apparel and custom video game consoles.
Ubisoft is showing its artistic side by producing a music video for DJ, Oliver Heldens and his latest track, “Good Life.” The partnership with Spinnin’ Records places Watch Dogs 2 front and center, with brightly-colored images inspired by “the lifestyle of in-game hacking collective, Dedsec.”
The release of Watch Dogs 2 may garner extra attention thanks to real-life hacking in current events such as Anonymous calling out mainstream media or the Podesta emails being released on WikiLeaks. Even in the fictional world, hacking is a popular theme thanks to shows like Mr. Robot. While partnering with Anonymous is most likely not on the agenda, Mr. Robot star, Rami Malek did play Watch Dogs 2 on a November 13 Twitch livestream, and viewers were able to suggest in-game challenges for Malek to attempte. Twitch Prime members received exclusive, in-game items such as XP boosts and customization options, as well.
Pokémon Sun and Moon
Nintendo is enjoying some serious brand awareness thanks to Pokémon GO and has been hard at work getting fans excited for Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon. Although the publisher devoted most of its E3 resources to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, a livestream demonstration of Pokémon Sun revealed a number of big changes to gameplay in an attempt to make the title more accessible to new players. Not only do the games offer hundreds of new Pokémon to collect, but players will interact with a revamped battle system, Pokédex and even new online battle modes.
One of the most notable creatures to appear in the game will be Mimikyu, a lonely Pokémon that hopes to make friends by impersonating Pikachu—the famous yellow creature that serves as Nintendo’s face of the franchise. A special music video about Mimikyu was released on the Japanese Pokémon YouTube channel, garnering over two million views in a matter of weeks.
A month prior to the game’s launch, Nintendo released a special demo for the 3DS that contains stand-alone gameplay from the finished titles. Those who complete the first part of the demo can transfer a powerful Pokémon called Greninja over to the full game once it’s purchased. Pokémon Sun and Moon are linked to the time on the player’s 2DS or 3DS, and performing certain tasks within the special demo on certain days awards players with in-game items they can transfer, as well. In addition to introducing Pokémon fans to the new region of Alola, the demo also links the game’s story to Ash—the main character of the animated series and most-recognized trainer in the franchise.
Ash’s adventures in Alola will play out in a brand-new anime series debuting in Japan on November 18, sharing a launch date with the game. The games are also inspiring a manga adaptation called Pokémon Horizon that debuted in the October issue of Coro Coro Comics. Meanwhile, the Pocket Monsters Special manga series will begin its Sun/Moon arc in the January issue of CoroCoro Ichiban! magazine on November 21.