It was just confirmed that Grand Theft Auto IV, which was released on April 29th, 2008, has shattered every single entertainment industry opening...ever - we're talking music, film, books, you name it - raking in five hundred million dollars in its opening week.
The most successful entertainment launch... ever.
Iron Man who?
Now, let's be realistic, more people did see Iron Man than bought Grand Theft Auto IV, but for sheer dollars (and who is, really, keeping score on anything else) it wins. Hands down.
No doubt, the game comes with tons of controversy (I often tell people, if they have never heard of Grand Theft Auto, odds are that means their kids are playing it ;). You can read more about how it ranks versus the other big entertainment money grabbers over here: 'Grand Theft Auto IV' Races Into Videogame Record Books. Yes, it even rocked the opening week of Halo 3.
Video game Marketing is not that new of a channel. For years big brands have been making their way into everything from sporting games to action adventure. Burger King even went out on their own to create three games for the Xbox gaming console. Video games work on many levels: the messages are very targeted, the game developers usually don't accept any form of Marketing unless it's a fit and adds value to the game, and - most importantly - the value is there as they last forever and ever (or, as long as the video game is available).
And, there's another side: most games have some kind of community and online component as well. Sometimes, they are intrinsically connected, other times they are two separate (but linked) environments. Either way, there's usually a lot of action, engagement and activity (way more than your average 30-second spot).
Here's the bigger idea: where does your brand fit when it comes to gaming? I know this channel is not for everyone, but with numbers like Grand Theft Auto, and with more and more consoles offering online communities plus additional online content (not to mention multi-player online action), it's just a short matter of time before these gaming systems cowboy up and replace/become our entertainment systems.