Sex sells videos games, or does it?
Gaming in Vietnam has been thought to have a negative impact on local youth. The local government has passed tons of bills to limit people from playing video games, especially online games. One of the more recent ones passed prohibits children under 18 from playing games for more than three hours at a stretch.
The media’s perception of gaming
In Vietnam, it’s common for the mass media to throw stones at the gaming community. Most mainstream media in the country reports only on the negative effects of video games. It’s easy to find articles that cover “bad effects of playing video games”, or ones that are headlined “violent riots because of online games” or “students quit school to play games”. It’s hard to find positive articles.
Fortunately, things are changing now, and people are becoming more aware of the benefits of playing games. More and more gaming tournaments, events, and conferences have been organized in Vietnam. As a result, more good articles about games appear. Sadly, this situation has been too good to remain true.
Garbage in, garbage out
About ten years ago, an agreement between Chinese company Kingsoft and Vietnam’s VNG changed everything.Vo Lam Truyen Ky, a MMORPG game that later became one of Vietnam’s most successful online games, arrived in the country.
VNG’s massive success became the first stepping stone for Chinese games to enter the local market. Right now, about 85 percent of Vietnamese online and mobile games are from China. But with more and more Chinese games coming to Vietnam, the quality has dropped. Most of the games available are of low quality, and gamers don’t think highly of them.
This is where the Vietnamese mass media sees a chink in the positive armor the games industry has built for itself. Publishers have to do perform marketing and PR tricks to attract new users so that they can compete against the many similar games floating around. One such trick is sexual content.
Nowdays, lots of games are marketed through the use of attractive women and videos with suggestive content. For example, an MMORPG called Sat Thu Truyen Ky is about the war between good and evil. Its marketing material includes a video called “the differences between good girls and bad girls”. A quick peep and you can see that the content of the video is totally irrelevant to the game.
Does it really work?
These types of videos go viral easily. Lots of them can pull more than a million views in no time at all. The secret sauce? Humor, sex, funny dialogue, and hot girls. Publishers place game names, download links, or website addresses at the end of these videos, so viewers follow through to the game after watching the video. An alternative method is to slap game logos on photos of attractive women, and post these online. These photos and videos spread like wildfire through Facebook.
Ironically, the girls in those videos sometimes end up getting more attention than the games. A model featured on Thien Menh 4D netted 166,000 likes for her video, while the actual game’s Facebook page garnered a measely 34,000 likes. But even if a publisher didn’t want to push its game via suggestive videos, it doesn’t have much of a choice. There are too many similar games out in the market already, and if an eye-catching marketing strategy is not used, then these games will get lost in the deluge.
Given gaming’s already negative reputation in Vietnam, this is just another punch to the community’s face. Fortunately, one thing still remains: Vietnamese gamers are still a discerning bunch. Regardless of how hard these publishers try to push their games with suggestive content, a game will not float if it’s a bad one. No matter the number of hot girls in its promotional video, a bad game will not last long.
With more games entering the Vietnamese market and more gamers choosing to play quality products, such marketing tactics will hopefully someday be just part of history. And then, perhaps the media will stop viewing game so negatively, too.
Read more about sex selling games:
Sex and Gaming in China: Is it Time for Gamers to Grow Up?
We asked industry insiders about gamers' attitudes to women and sex - from objectified women in advertising, to the questionable treatment of girl gamers.