Okay....The Product Placement in FFXV is Way Over the Top
If you've somehow managed to avoid seeing any of the commercials or trailers for Final Fantasy XV, then I have to congratulate you. For everyone else in the world not living in a remote cabin in the woods, there is a game out there -- actually several games in a series of "Final Fantasies." In the latest one, Final Fantasy XV, there is something less fantasy and more reality going on. That something being the product placement on several well-known real-world brands.
And this placement is not the subtle kind either. It's not like there is a cutscene and if you're looking in the exact spot at the exact frame you see a quick nod to something you can find in your everyday life adventures. No, no, no. This is the kind of product placement I'm talking about:
That's right folks, there is a friggin Nissin ramen truck smack dab in the middle of the street! Not only that, there is actually a quest about ramen noodles. A quest! It all starts with seeing this noodle truck and Gladiolus, one of your allies in your party, pretty much goes ape. I mean, he has a full-on moment where you'd think he was talking about the ultimate dining experience.
Being a college student myself, and someone who's lived in South Korea, it's safe to say that I've had my fair share of ramen noodles, but this takes it to a whole new level. Anyway, depending on what dialogue option you choose, you go on a little quest to gather ingredients for your noodles and ultimately eat them, gaining a small boost to specific skills. It's all pretty strange, but this, however, isn't the only branding placement in the game, not by a long shot.
Here we can see Noctis, the main character, just stocking up on some supplies... Wait a minute. Is that an American Express sign!? Yes, confused reader, it is. I hear Noctis even has a coveted Royal American Express Gold Card! I mean, he is a Prince after all. In fact, I've heard that if you listen hard enough at the end of fights and quests, you can actually hear the sound of his reward being direct-deposited into his account.
And after nomming on some ramen that you bought with your American Express card why not drive to the next mission in your brand new Audi? I guess if you're the prince you're not actually the one driving it, but that doesn't mean you should be forced to ride in some no-name, generic limo.
What's that you say? "An Audi? In Final Fantasy? Give me a break?" Oh, my friend, feast your eyes. Yes, it IS an Audi. Look at it!
To me, this feels so much less like fantasy and more like a way to generate more income by filling the game with product placement. Now don't get me wrong, games of this size are not cheap to make and as an indie dev, I can understand just how expensive it is to make a game. But this isn't some indie studio developing a game, and this isn't exactly what comes to mind when I think Final Fantasy.
At least you can experience some of what the other Final Fantasy games offered, like the interesting story, combat and character progression without a big fat advertisement in your face. Hell, maybe it'll even bring about a sense of adventure to you, seeing your party camping off in the wilderness in fashion with something that look JUST like a Coleman lantern.
Wait. It IS a Coleman lantern. Look, it even has the Coleman logo! Well, at least if you like the camping equipment you see, you can always find its real-life counterpart thanks to this game!
Don't get me wrong: I'm not trying to knock the game for trying to add a bit more of cash to their budget, but this does kinda make the game feel more like an interactive catalog and less like I'm trying to save the world from whatever perils threaten it.
Does product placement in games bother you? Why do you think Square Enix put so much of it into Final Fantasy XV? Let us know in the comment below!