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5 Video Games That Took Product Placement Too Far



Product placement has long been a part of video game culture. In fact, products and brands, in general, are pretty common in most, if not all major video game franchises, and it begs the question: are there any day-one releases out there that don't feature a carbonated beverage or a mascot for an Easter egg?

Anyway, to help bide our time, we've been scraping the barrel in search of games that got a little too greedy with the product placement. From Hideo Kojima's hidden obsession with Monster Energy, to Naughty Dog's unusual partnership with Subway, here are the five most in-your-face product placement ads we could dig up from the past couple of decades or so.

5. Monster Energy (Death Stranding)

It's funny, because on paper, you'd never imagine a post-apocalyptic America having a surplus of any sort of carbonated beverage—particularly ones like Monster Energy. As it turned out, though, Hideo Kojima couldn't help himself when it came to drawing up plans to cram some sort of product placement into Death Stranding. And in spite of all the products Kojima could've stashed away in the game, it somehow ended up being the “Unleash The Beast” beverage that made the cut. And then some.

Turns out, the only thing that can keep Sam Porter on his toes when out crossing the US in a bid to reconnect the world, is an icy cold can of Monster Energy. And if he doesn't consume one when out on his backpacking journey, then his only other option is to load up on a six-pack back in the Private Rooms that pop up around the biomes. Should you ignore the signals to consume one, then Sam quickly loses a lot of stamina, which, in turn, means less “bringing America back online.” So, one could argue that the future of the States all boils down to one man's reliance on Monster Energy. That's Kojima, in a nutshell.

4. Subway (Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception)

For those of you who didn't get the chance to pick up the ever-elusive multiplayer mode that Naughty Dog dropped in Uncharted 3, seeing Nathan Drake armed with a subway will be about as unusual as seeing Sully with a vape pen. Funnily enough, though, there was once a partnership between the two business giants, and it involved feeding a lot of early-access players a whole bunch of Subway-themed goodies, including weapon skins and cosmetics.

So, why such an odd partnership? Well, as it turns out, Naughty Dog buddied up with Subway to host a slew of in-store promotions, which basically allowed for customers to access a copy of Uncharted 3's multiplayer mode several weeks before its full release. The only caveat was that Subway customers had to purchase a 30oz themed cup, and from a select chain of stores somewhere in the United States.

3. Mega Man (Dead Rising)

It's understandable that any developer would want to take the opportunity to slyly put a sliver of their own work into their other projects. Take The Dark Pictures, for example; each game features an entire section that gives players a preview of the next game in the series—before it has even been officially announced. Dead Rising is very much the same, in the fact that a lot of the game has products from other franchises, namely Mega Man, another one of Capcom's well-loved IPs.,

Anyway, the folk over at Capcom clearly loved their cult-classic saga, as most of Willamette Mall had either billboards of it, toys, cosmetics, or even themed weapons. And these weren't exactly in short supply, either, as most corners of the monumental shopping district had some references to the boy in electric blue. Perhaps a little too many references.

2. Energizer Batteries (Alan Wake)

Energizer buying its way into Remedy Entertainnent's Alan Wake was something of a double-edged sword; on one hand, it spread the word of the universal battery brand, but on the other, it gave players the false impression that its batteries were easily replaceable and wasteful. Thanks to the batteries draining after mere minutes, it definitely made scavenging them during the story a bit of a headache, which of course didn't help Energizer as a result.

Unfortunately, Alan Wake centers its entire universe around the darkness, which means your only tool for surviving the terrors that lurk beyond is a torch. Long story short, Energizer came into play, with more batteries and product placement than Remedy Entertainment probably would've anticipated during the development phase. Don't let the low battery life fool you, though; Alan Wake definitely doesn't do the brand justice.

1. Pizza Hut (EverQuest II)

Hands down one of the worst examples of product placement in video game history is the in-game Pizza Hut ads and online order forms in EverQuest II. Although a convenient way to place an order without having to abandon the game, the Pizza Hut promotional content definitely drew a lot of negative attention when it first aired in the early noughties.

Pizza Hut no longer has its feature in the game, but its short stint during the golden age of EverQuest II is just as memorable today as was back in 2005. And to think, all players had to do was bash “/pizza” into the command box, and a delivery would be made directly to their doors. Convenient, or straight-up laziness? Either way, it was a solid marketing strategy on Pizza Hut's part.


So, what's your take? Do you agree with our top five? Are there any games that you think go a little too OTT on the product placement? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.

Jord is acting Team Leader at If he isn't blabbering on in his daily listicles, then he's probably out writing fantasy novels or scraping Game Pass of all its slept on indies.