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On Bizarre Product Placement
Posted on Tuesday, February 26 2008 @ 00:18:37 PST

Used well, I have no problem with product placement. Nikolai in GTA4 can get refreshment from as much Sprite as he wants, and I wouldn't balk at a Wendy's bag in an office in Syphon Filter. Heck, if product placement started reducing the cost of games, I'd be even more willing to bear actual Starbucks cafes popping up in Liberty City (though inevitably, they would get firebombed).

I should note this only applies when it is done right: in games based in present or recent past or near future, on Earth or some derivative thereof. If Master Chief found a can of Game Fuel on a Halo somewhere I'd scoff, much like I would if Mario karted past a billboard for Applebees. If it doesn't fit the style and time of the game, it shouldn't be in there.

Which brings me to Call of Duty 4. As much as I am perpetually 4 months behind in getting around to games, I've recently taken to CoD4 and loved every minute of its excellently crafted (if at times rapingly difficult) single player campaign. The 'Intelligence' concept seemed a little odd to me, however. Each of the enemies, be they of indeterminate Arabic or Russian terrorist cells, favour Voodoo as their laptop of choice. This confuses me for a couple of reasons:

I've owned a Voodoo Envy laptop, and they are anything but unassuming. In short, they make Macbooks look as sexy as a Gateway desktop. Mine was Lamborghini Yellow, blindingly lustrous and instant thief-fodder. If you want everyone to look at you in an airport, lecture hall, meeting, library, whatever, carry a pearl yellow laptop. It is impossible to be discreet holding one of these things, and it makes me wonder what terrorists would find attractive in a computer that is designed to garner attention.

Second is the price: Voodoo PC's, aside from being gorgeous and powerful (when they get around to updating the specs) are insanely expensive. B&O speakers expensive. The paint job alone costs $700 bucks and up. Doesn't seem practical to me that terrorists in the wartorn middle east would be importing luxury Canadian laptops and leaving them in rickety shacks for someone to pilfer.

Last is sheer recognition: I noticed these were Voodoo laptops because I'd owned one and know the brand well. Who of the regular joes (any of you?) actually took note of the brand of these things? They're not exactly well-known, and having your product obscured as the Terrorist Brand of Choice doesn't exactly inspire confidence. I've a feeling that the only people who had actually noted this product placement are already well aware of laptops that are clear out of their price range.

Then again, them terrarists need something to practice murder with, and Voodoo laptops can play that Coun'erstrike game.
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