Red Alert 3 marketing
The first of, perhaps, many benign non-crossposts

Red Alert 3 showed up today, software which I purchased specifically to reward EA (those poor folks need a reward, god knows) for paying Tim Curry money to act (regardless of the substance of how that plays out--pun retroactively intended, in a world where the nuclear bombs were never made). The game itself is trapped beneath a permafrost layer of pain in the ass cellophane, which I guess is better than entombed in an electronics condom, but that's not the interesting part, the interesting part is what's on the cellophane, there is a sticker...

[suspense goes here]

This sticker tells me that, included, is an exclusive in-game item for Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (which satanists abbreviate as 'WAR' and I abbreviate as 'WHO:AR' as in 'WHO AR you going to fire when you have to consolidate the servers'). Which I think of being like including a free sanitary needle with a purchase of diapers or baby formula. Essentially sending the message that 'hey, good job, you made it to the store and bought something you needed--and to reward you, here's some paraphernalia to help you fall back into the gaping chasm of addiction that you somehow flopped out of, like a half-drowned lolcat, today.

Stand alone games that are *not* MMOs, and therefore do *not* deliberately mutilate your brainstem with continuous lever presses that stimulate your reward mechanism, are supposed to be like Wesley, grabbing a vine and diving into the lightning sand to rescue you from that danger of the cursed forest. I buy reams of games in the hopes that they will eventually remind me of why I *don't* play WoW, rather than making me wonder why I keep playing it (leveling hunter, shaman, warlock, and warrior alts LOL! kill me.).

In a way, this is kind of plaintive. Not merely a cross-marketing effort by EA; who's tendrils span the oceans, this is a plea from game makers 'buy our shit, and we will give you inconsequential rewards in your addiction'.

In all seriousness, if some customers are willing to go to Blizzcon to see what they can view for free on the internet moments after it is shown to the public (in private, and without body odors they do not, themselves, produce) in order to get a murloc pet, or repurchase the 40dollar main game for the sake of getting a zebra to ride, then is it a stretch to imagine paying 50 dollars to get a helm that turns you into a bear (omg that sounds cool, I know right? seriously...shit I might have to pick that up... is it any good? Tim curry?! Oh I am *so* buying this), and, oh, by the way, you get a triple A game thing on the disk. You might install it. Whatever. Where's that code to redeem my item man?! *scratches at neck spastically*

In a sense, hasn't this step been taken already? What is an easily obtained XBL achievement, other than a bribe by a developer to buy their shit so that you can accrue gamer capital with which to influence other addicts? The only problem with XBL achievements, when you think about it, is that you have to actually play games to raise your gamer score. In an ideal world, you could grind repeatable Xbox dashboard quests like 'switch blades 100 times' or 'turn on and off parental controls 10 times' for rep rewards which allowed you to purchase, on marketplace, gamerscore boosts with real cash money--thereby avoiding the troublesome accumulation of physical media in your living room or den.

Since we're approaching the point, gradually, that we'll all be immersing ourselves in a virtual world that has brighter colors, more violence, and less sex (for nonzero values of sex) as much as reasonably feasible, we're going to want that virtual world to reflect our desires and ambitions, including the hubris of wanting to immerse ourselves in another virtual world. Maybe viva pinata would work out better if it gave you the opportunity to play animal crossing as a chocodile. What is, at the moment, a cross-promotional gimmick, with things like PSN's Home will become a standard of behavior. Starcraft 2: enjoy riding around on a Vulture in WoW. If you log on to Bnet in SC2, you're just going to get raped by a Korean championship expert, anyway, so why bother? That's 8 years of development time so that you can get your 50th mount and ride around on an albino drake, or whatever it is. maybe it's a warbear. I can't keep track of all this mounting that's going on without climax.

So I'm looking forward to Marvel Nemesis 2 with an exclusive in-game Champions costume piece.

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