March 4th, 2006

Brits Call For Graphical Truth in Game Advertising

Just show me how the damn thing plays!

Are you frustrated with game commercials that display nothing but pre-rendered footage? If you live in the UK you may not have to suffer them much longer due to a recent adjudication from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The ASA is an independent body set up to ensure that advertising, not just television, conforms to the advertising code. Earlier this year, the ASA received three separate complaints about adverts for Activision's Call of Duty 2 (Xbox 360) and Call of Duty: Big Red One (PS2, Xbox, and GCN).

Apparently, the ads used pre-rendered footage that was far superior to what is found in the actual game play. The Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre, the organization responsible for the pre-transmission clearance of UK television advertisements, informed the ASA that they had approved the commercials under the impression that the footage was taken directly from the games. Upon learning that Activision had produced the scenes specifically for the ads, they immediately declared them unacceptable for broadcast.

For its part, Activision says it acted in good faith and maintains that using pre-rendered footage is common practice.

Unmoved, the ASA slammed Activision's explanation. "While the scenes used communicated the themes of the game, they were not accurate representations of the graphics in the games themselves. We considered that this was misleading... They must not be shown again in their present forms."

AE: It's important to keep in mind that the majority of game commercials featuring solely pre-rendered footage (like every Final Fantasy game since VII) are still using scenes from the game. The CoD2 ads in question (view one here) use images that are not found in the game. Big difference that.

-Andrew Eisen

Snoop Dogg's Fear & Respect Gets None

As the Monty Python boys would say, our chief weapons are fear. Fear and surprise. And a ruthless efficiency... But as for "Fear & Respect," well that just got canceled.

As reported by Euro Gamer, Midway has shelved the gangsta game being developed with Snoop Dogg and director John Singleton.

Billed as an "innovative action adventure game (based in) the intense, urban environment of South Central LA." Fear & Respect looked like another dreary San Andreas rip-off anyway. Midway CEO David Zucker apparently agreed.

"We are still working with Snoop and John Singleton to do a game, but the actual game Fear & Respect is canceled. I think we're at a juncture in the video game business. Everyone's talking about it. How many times are you going to give me the 16th iteration of... I'm not even going to talk about the other products."

Fo' shizzle, Zuck-izzle.

By the way, had it launched, Fear & Respect was targeted for protests by the Washington, D.C.-based Peaceoholics, a grass-roots anti-violence group. Peaceoholics leader Ronald Moten said last year, "We're going to go after Singleton even harder (than San Andreas). He's been sucked into this thing where money is more important than the welfare of his brothers."

ELSPA Boss Slams MP's Video Game Law Proposal

The United States has no monopoly on video game legislation.

As reported on GamePolitics earlier this week, British Labour MP Keith Vaz wants to force changes in the way game ratings and content descriptors are labeled.

Firing back, Roger Bennett, head of ELSPA (the European version of the ESA) told GamesIndustry BIZ that Vaz' legislative proposals are "complete and utter nonsense, and "a result of the promotion of the nanny state."

Bennett also takes particular offense at an outdated quote of his referenced by Vaz in Parliament:

"BBFC ratings are on the front of games boxes, while ELSPA's are on the back. If a game does not have a BBFC rating, people sometimes assume it is suitable for children, forgetting to check the back."

The ELSPA head's frustration is understandable. While Bennett did make the statement, he said it in 2002, that is, a year before the current Pan-European Game Information (PEGI) system came into effect. "(Vaz') whole thrust with this proposed bill was about labelling, which he got utterly and completely wrong, in that he hasn't got up to speed with what has happened over the last three or four years," Bennett said.

While ELSPA plans to address Vaz' proposal, its director seemed unconcerned that the legislation might be adopted.

"There's very little chance of it going any further anyway, given that the whole thrust of the content of his proposal is already established and has been for the last three years - so I'm not sure quite what [Vaz] is aiming to achieve."

MK: An interesting standpoint, given how Vaz himself made positive mention of the industry's initiatives made since the Manhunt fiasco in the original debate. However, the bill appears to have support from a handful of MPs even externally of his own party, so it should be interesting to see how this one turns out.

-Mark Kelly

GP: Welcome to Mark Kelly, GP's new European correspondent (Euro-spondent?)