Do We Really Need Sex to Sell Video Games?

Video game promotion is a bizarre and fickle world. In today's fast-paced, meme-based internet, you have to do something that will make you stand out. In the video game industry, this is especially true of companies and titles that no one has ever heard of. Imagine trying to get your name out there for a game you created when it's up against names like Bethesda or Call of Duty. It's a daunting thought, to be sure. Some video games and their parent companies resort to very extreme measures to market their games to audiences that might not have heard of them otherwise. And you know what sells more than anything else? You guessed it, sex.

No matter the culture, the country, or the game, sex will sell products. At the very least, sex and sexual content will grab attention. It might not always be positive attention, but you know the old saying, “There's no such thing as bad press.” If your game or your company's name is on people's lips, it doesn't matter how it got there. This seems to be the manner of thinking across the video game industry as a whole, but potentially even more so in countries in Asia.  


It's an interesting fact, since sex can be a rather taboo topic some countries. Even dating within these countries can be a minefield of warring social expectations and natural urges. Yet, sex is used rather often in marketing for different products. A great recent example includes the Hooters and Sega team-up. Sega promoted Sonic the Hedgehog in Tokyo's Hooters locations. It was a pretty mediocre and essentially non-effective mash-up. Now there's an even more outrageous promotional crossover happening in South Korea.

A game called Sam Kook Ji Live (or Romance of the Three Kingdoms Live) is running a promotional giveaway that will award one grand prize winner with a pair of panties previously worn by Kirara Asuka. The only way Americans might recognize that name is from Yakuza 2, where Kirara played a hostess. South Koreans will know her better as the star of various B-movies and plenty of adult films. Connect all the dots, and a game geared towards anyone 12+ is giving away a porn star's used underwear. Pretty bizarre right?

Obviously the giveaway is marketed more towards Sam Kook Ji Live's adult audience, but the fact remains that even young teens play this game. I'm assuming that, like most giveaways, there's an age requirement for those that enter. So that should negate the possibility of any youngsters getting their hands on Kirara's panties. Even still, it's a really weird way to market an otherwise fairly normal seeming mobile game. Sex sells, but how hard do you have to shoe-horn it in there? There's a “that's what she said” joke in there somewhere, but I'm going to move on.

11-30-17 Sonic Hooters.jpg

Partnerships like Sonic the Hedgehog meets Hooters and Sam Kook Ji Live meets porn star's underwear just leave me confused. There's clearly something lost in cultural translation here, because I can't imagine either of these two promotions would go over well in the U.S. Well, actually Sonic visiting Hooters probably would go over well. Aren't people always looking for reasons to justify bringing their kids to Hooters? (It's a family restaurant!) But the used panties giveaway would just be considered bizarre in America, and would probably put feminists and parents into a tizzy.

Sex sells, but how far do we have to reach to make that happen in video games? If Super Mario Odyssey marketed itself with pin-up photos of Peach on her wedding night, it'd be weird but it would make sense. Bayonetta 2 being promoted by Playboy Magazine made perfect sense because of her voluptuous curves. But strategy games giving away used panties to lure people in is super odd, and most likely crosses the line for a lot of people. I personally find it funny, and can imagine that it's going to bring a lot of attention to the game. Would I want to receive a pair of someone's pre-worn underwear in the mail though? Probably not. What do you think of all this? Let me hear your voices in the comments section!

April Marie
April Marie

Contributing Writer
Date: 12/01/2017

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