The Silly World of Gaming Related Stock Photography

As someone who has been gaming for nearly 30 years, I’ve seen the medium go from children’s pastime to mainstream entertainment.  However, there is one thing that has not changed much, and it’s that many advertising agencies don’t understand gaming for shit.

This is coming from someone who has actually worked in and collaborates with ad agencies to this day, so I do have real world knowledge of this.  I can tell you, without a shadow of a doubt that the vast majority of them simply do not understand the core concepts of video games.

Even fancy ones with giant face chairs and shit.

Even the fancy agencies with giant face chairs are clueless when it comes to games.

Now, there are exceptions.  There are (probably) plenty of agencies out there that specialize or have experience in video game marketing and advertising. These are the companies contracted by game makers directly. Many publishers develop their advertising internally, because who knows the product better than the ones who are creating it, right? RIGHT?!?

We’re not here to talk about those types of ads.  These are good ads from competent companies, for the most part.  We’re here to poke fun at the ads and stock photos of agencies that have no fucking clue what they’re talking about, because making fun of ignorant people is fun.

"This copy is good, but let's add some more stereotypical dialogue like EXTREME and RADICAL!"

“This copy is good, but let’s add some more stereotypical dialogue like EXTREME and RADICAL!”

Let’s take a relatively recent ad for the delicious and colon exploding savory confections known as Hot Pockets.


This commercial goes off the rails mainly because this is not how gaming works in the real world. Gaming will probably never work like this. However, in the minds of ad executives who probably never picked up a game pad in their lives, this is EXACTLY how games work.

That’s a recurring problem with many ads that have video games. The act of gaming is either extremely out dated or severely detached on how it actually works.

This isn’t just a problem with video games mind you. Agency folks have told me point blank that they tweak many things in order to make a point or capture the essence of an activity due to time constraints in the ad or to make something look more interesting.  However, there are many instances when the agencies and creative folk simply don’t give a fuck.

Take this image, for example:

XBox-720-Concept-Controller
I first came across this image approximately 3 years ago while working at a large global consumer goods company.

I was walking to my desk, which just so happened to be near the design “gurus” when I noticed this image was posted on a very large poster with other Xbox branded items.  There were mock-ups of the Xbox Live dashboard, sample banner ads touting my company’s products, images of people enjoying our product, images of people gaming, various charts and graphs, and that fucking monstrosity above.

I went to one of the designers and asked what the poster was about. The designer, who was bearded, wearing a flannel shirt, and donning very expensive designer eyeglasses said that they were pitching Microsoft on a marketing partnership and that was part of their presentation.

Horrified, I told the “lumber sexual” designer that he couldn’t use that image of the controller. I explained to him that this controller does not exist, will never exist, is clearly a joke, and if they show that to Microsoft, they will get laughed out of the fucking room.

The designer, who was clearly trying to channel a myopic Paul Bunyan, annoyingly peered at me above the rims of his designer eyeglasses, sighed and stated that he wouldn’t know, because he never played a video game in his life (highly doubtful) and he thought that the image was fine, but he will chat with his boss about it.

Lumbersexual

I was a fan of not playing video games before it was cool.

I don’t know if they ever changed the image, but I do know that my former company never formed a marketing partnership with Microsoft, at least, not at that time.

What’s even sadder is that this image was seared into my mind’s eye after all these years. When I decided to write this post I starting Googling images of controllers and after a short while, found it. It came from a PS4 fan site and is a knock on Microsoft. That would have gone over great with the folks at Microsoft.

Clearly, this was a dumb move on my former company’s part, but the truth is that even proper stock photography and video houses have tons of crappy gaming related images and video that they are selling to ad agencies and internal marketing departments of corporations who simply don’t know any better.

Here are just a few examples.

Generic Console

Stupid Hardware

These first two images are examples of stupid hardware.  Consider the first image and how ridiculously generic it is.  I realize that you cannot use the actual hardware with the Playstation of Xbox logos , but you can cover that shit up. These two images are just plain lazy.

Generic FamilyWhat a beautiful family. Look how close they are, huddled up together.  They must really love each other.  Too bad 3 out of 4 them appear to have never held an actual controller before.

This time with grandmaHey, let’s invite grandpa and grandma too.  By the way, why are the kids facing away from the TV, which is also not on? Is that how video games work? WHO CARES!

Close GamersI don’t know about you, but when I’m gaming with my buddies, this is exactly how we look. Practically on top of each other and we may or may not be wearing any pants.

For the ladiesGirls play games too you know.  Also, thanks to the Wii, people think that motion controls are now an integral part of every game ever made. The PS2 had motion control right?

Swaying in the WindWhy are they sitting on a table? Why are they swaying back and forth? Why are they yelling?

Now, you may be thinking that I combed through stock photo site after stock photo site looking for the worst of the worst and you would be wrong. First of all, I’m incredibly lazy, so I would never do that, these images were easy to find and secondly, they are all from reputable stock photography companies. You may have also noticed that these images are not cheap either.

It’s not just photography though. Stock video is just as bad if not worse.

Bask in the green glow of video games and technology. It’s so alien and possibly dangerous. Also, what is up with the girl in the back?


Overly expressive gesticulation. Also, do people still pass the controller back and forth like a joint?


Look at grandma and grandpa, play the Xbox Three Six Wii. This is a great example of using hardware incorrectly or in a way that does not makes sense to an actual gamer. Also, there is a very good chance that this video can be used for Cialis, Viagra, or any other pill that makes your dick hard when the time is juuuuust right.



This is wrong on many levels. It appears that at any moment they are going to swap partners and start eating each others genitals.


This girl is having a whirlwind of emotions. She may need to go on mood altering medication.


Lastly, you can cut the sexual tension here with a knife. These kids are clearly going to have unprotected sex any second here. Gaming is a gateway to sexual deviancy and children being born out of wedlock, everyone knows that.

Also, Shaggy McBeardy over there clearly has never picked up a controller before and this is turning his girlfriend on.

The people who created these stock images and videos are ignorant on so many levels its laughable. The concept of video games at this point is nothing novel, and yet people in the advertising world are still relatively clueless about how gaming actually works.

That brings me to a question for you. Has there ever been an ad that portrayed gaming so poorly, whether it was for a game related product or something completely unrelated that rubbed you the wrong way? Would this keep you from purchasing said product?  Let me know in the comments.

One for the road.

One for the road.

Sony Makes Money While You Sleep…

They are also probably eating your lunch out of the office fridge, got your girlfriend pregnant, and your mom secretly likes them better than you. They are like a malevolent clown doll that watches you while you sleep. One day, when you least expect it, it will strike when you are most vulnerable.


Sony, a massive company with a diverse product line competes with other large corporations to become your electronic gadget maker of choice. We all know this as this is nothing new.

You also may know that Sony has invents and manufactures a lot of technology that goes into various doodads. Some of Sony’s tech even goes into products manufactured by their direct competitors. The Blu-Ray player in the Xbox One for example, ensures that Sony gets a taste of the action for every console that Microsoft sells, just like Don “Black Hand” Fanucci from Godfather II.

171-0628094631-godfather-II-don-fannucci-the-black-hand

He just wants to wet his beak.

This is not ground breaking news, but what I do find amazing is just how much revenue Sony brings in by selling components to its competitors. When the Xbox One was first introduced and it became known that it would sport a Blu-Ray drive, Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter estimated that Microsoft would have to pay Sony $2 to $3 for every Xbox One sold to license the Blu-Ray drive.

Let’s assume that Microsoft pays Sony just $2.00 per console for the Blu-Ray license. Well that would translate $20 million if Microsoft sold 10 million consoles worldwide since launch, as they claimed back in November 2014. $30 million if Microsoft pays closer to the top end. In the end, it’s probably someplace in the middle, so let’s just say Sony made approximately $25 million from Microsoft since the Xbox One was launched, give or take a couple million. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

Now keep in mind, my math can be completely wrong in terms of how many actually Xbox One consoles were sold. I got my numbers from Wikipedia, which is quoting a Microsoft PR flak, so chances are good that my numbers are completely wrong. At the end of the day, it’s safe to say that Sony making millions off of Xbox One sales.

Sony is not just taking millions from Microsoft however. They also currently have Apple over a barrel. According to the Wall Street Journal and Fortune, “Sony is trying harder than ever to profit from other companies’ innovations, such as the iPhone 6. Each iPhone 6 contains two Sony-made image sensors and related parts, which generate revenue of as much as $20 per phone for Sony, analysts say. Earlier-generation iPhones had one Sony sensor apiece. The ‘selfie’ craze has strengthened Sony’s grip on the market.”

Apple sold 10 million iPhone 6 on its weekend. That’s a $200 million payday for Sony and that figure doesn’t include revenue from all other Apple product that may be using Sony technology, like older iPhones and iPads.

Kaz Hirai, who you may remember as the former of President of Sony Computer Entertainment and is now CEO of Sony stated in an interview with WSJ.com:

“Whether it’s a device that goes into other manufacturers’ products or sometimes our own, if there’s innovation there… That’s something I get excited about.”

I imagine that he was tweaking his nipples when he said that.

Meanwhile, Sony makes its very own smartphones and tablets in the Xperia line, but why even bother when you can just ride on the coat tails of other manufacturers?

And that is a scary thought for me personally. I’m a fan of Sony and a fan of their Playstation brand—especially the exquisite PS4, but what does Sony have to gain when they can make more money being a supplier of technology to other manufactures and letting them take all the risk? This is not a rhetorical question as I would really like to know.

Kaz Hirai in the WSJ.com interview readily admits that this may lead to a pivot for the company as he goes onto say,

“If we’re talking about the organization and our strategies and where we want the company to be next year, two years from now, three years from now, yes, we’re starting to turn the corner.”

Will Sony one day decide to bow out completely from the limelight of high stakes consumer electronics? I can’t say for sure, but we have seen stranger things. Who would have thought that Konami would stop making video games to manage health clubs, open up gourmet cup cake shops, and make slot machines full-time? What if Sony, at their E3 presser announces that they are getting out of the consumer electronics business to sell chips and sensors to Apple? I would imagine that the combined fury of gamers everywhere would tear a rift in the universe.

Sometimes I Hate Being Right 

Know what I hate? That smug look someone gives you when they say, “I told you so.” I should be allowed to slap that look right off someone’s face after saying, “I told you so…” and fear no legal ramifications for assault, because, quite simply, they deserved it.

So it pains me when I write something and it turns out to be incredibly accurate, as if I’m some kind of magical gypsy. A lesser man would get up on his high horse and point out how smart he was, or say something stupidly cliché like “called it,” but I’m not like that and if I did, I would have to kick my own ass.

No—I’m disappointed because what I wrote actually came true and now people are out of work because some rat faced, snaggle toothed, shit bag is horrible at what he does, and yet, gets handsomely rewarded for it monetarily.

Back in April, I wrote a post on how shitty former Microsoft executive and dad-bod extraordinaire Don Mattrick was leaving Zynga after being there only a short time. You can read it here. His tenure was uneventful and he essentially failed at accomplishing any of the goals he set, and yet, he is going to be paid nearly $15 million dollars to fucking walk away. This is on top of the millions he already earned for doing a shitty job.

donmattrickra

I joked on how executives and board members make horrible decisions all the time, and the only people who pay  for those bad decisions are the regular run-of-the-mill associates who simply run the day to day functions of the company—you know, the unimportant crap.

I propose firing 15% of staff so that we can give ourselves bonuses and buy a SEX JET!

I propose firing 15% of staff so that we can give ourselves bonuses and buy a SEX JET!

That image and caption is from my post back in April. Many of you thought it was funny. But, do you know what? I was wrong. I SCREAM IT FROM THE MOUNTAIN TOPS! DO YOU HEAR ME!?! I WAS WRONG!!!

ImageAnd I’m wrong because it was closer to 18% reduction in staff than 15% to pay for bonuses and a SEX JET.

For a company of Zynga’s size, an 18% reduction of staff means that 364 people now need to figure out a new way to pay bills and eat.

Eurogamer.com reached out to Zynga for more information, but were pointed to a statement released by new-old CEO Mark Pincus:

For our people, we need to create an empowered, entrepreneurial culture that fosters more creativity and innovation. Over the years we’ve seen that tighter, more nimble teams can drive faster innovation and deliver more player value. As a result, today we announced a cost reduction program to focus, simplify and align us against our most promising opportunities.

We expect these cost reductions to generate $100m in annualized savings. We are reducing our workforce by 364 people or approximately 18 per cent, decreasing our outside services and reducing our central functions. This was a hard but necessary decision and I believe this plan puts us in the best long term position for success.

I’m sure former Zynga employees who are lining up for unemployment benefits appreciate those kind words.

Remember, fuck face Don Mattrick gets paid $15 Million, to just walk away. Meanwhile, $15 Million divided up by 364 employees would give them a salary of $41,208.79 per year. Go ahead and read that again and try not to RAGE PUKE.

I know that I pick on Mattrick and Zynga a lot, but they deserve to be ridiculed. Zynga is a poorly managed company that produces garbage and Mattrick is like King Midas, but in reverse, in that everything he touches turns into shit. As far as I’m concerned, I’m performing a public service by calling this out.

And by the way… I told you so. 

The Best Job in the World 

Imagine a job where you get paid millions of dollars in salary, receive millions of dollars in stock options, and receive absurd bonuses, just for doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Now, imagine a job where you get all of what was just previously stated and also get paid millions of dollars to leave if you ROYALLY FUCK UP.

You may be saying to yourself that no job like that exists, but there is. Play your cards right, work hard, and maybe, just maybe, with a little bit of luck, and ass kissing, you can become a CEO of a major organization.

Corporate Board Member Roundtable

Last week, Don Mattrick, former head of Xbox, resigned from his short lived CEO position at Zynga. You may remember Mattrick as the executive, who took the Xbox brand, after riding high after the success of the Xbox 360, and making an ass out of himself by fucking up the launch of the Xbox One in every conceivable way.

Thank you Google Image Search.

Thank you Google Image Search.

Zynga paid a ridiculous amount of money to Mattrick to take on the role of CEO and turn things around for the Facebook game company; known for cutting edge titles like Farmville and Poker, titles loved by grandmothers the world over.

Grandma_videogame

Zynga’s strategy over the years appears to be that they throw a lot of money out the window at product and personnel that are past their prime.  They paid top dollar for the studios that created Words with Friends and Draw Something at the height of their popularity. As grandmothers and casual gamers went on to other games, Zynga got hosed to the tune of $95 million dollars. 

So why not throw a ton of money at an executive who’s also possibly past his prime by offering Mattrick the following contract (Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal):

July 2013 – July 2014 (Year 1)

  • $5 million cash signing bonus
  • $1 million salary
  • $2 million cash bonus
  • $11 million in vested stock – Part of a “make-whole” package to compensate Mattrick for the stock he left at Microsoft.
  • Total: $19 million in cash and stock

July 2014Spring 2015 (Year 2)

  • $1 million annual salary
  • $2 million cash bonus – If Mattrick hits performance target (however, he could make as much as 400% his annual salary, or $4 million, if the board deems it appropriate)
  • $11 million in vested stock – as part of the “make-whole” grant
  • *He was also eligible, beginning in 2014, for extra grants based on the discretion of the compensation executive committee and how the company performs. These extra grants could be valued as high as $7 million.
  • Total: $14 million in cash and stock if he hits performance targets.

Spring 2015Spring 2016 (Year 3)

  • $1 million annual salary
  • $2 million cash bonus – If he hits performance targets. As noted above, he could make as much as $4 million, if Zynga performs especially well.
  • $3 million – the remainder of the make-whole grant
  • $3 million (1.07 million restricted stock units) in inducement grants (he will the remainder of his inducement grants, a total of $2 million, over the next two year)
  • *As in 2014, he is also eligible for extra grants, valued as high as $7 million.
  • Total: $9 million in cash and stock if he hits performance targets.

Of course, he won’t get to collect the $9 million he was due for the final year of his contract since he’s bailing out early. He’s actually going to get closer to $15 million. Go ahead and take a look at the SEC filing here, and try not to puke your guts out in pure anger. 

In the old timey days, vomiting was apparently a spectator sport.

In the old timey days, vomiting was apparently a spectator sport.

Over the next two years, Zynga will pay Mattrick a severance package of $4 million. In addition to his severance, Mattrick will get his bonus for the days he worked in 2015, which will approximately be $1 million. Lastly, Zynga will vest just over 5.1 million of stock owed to Mattrick, worth $10 million total. Not a bad haul for someone who did a below average job and did not accomplish anything he set out to do when he was hired.

New/Old Zynga CEO Mark Pincus and former CEO Don Mattrick, standing in what appears to be the barrel of a giant rifle.

New/Old Zynga CEO Mark Pincus and former CEO Don Mattrick, standing in what appears to be the barrel of a giant rifle.

I don’t mean to pick on Mattrick here. This is simply how business is done. CEOs and high level executives get golden parachutes all the time. The reason for this can be quite complicated. Yes, being a high level executive can be stressful, but there is a more nefarious reason why executives get such bloated salaries.

Many corporations have a board of directors that decide who gets hired as CEO and what they will be compensated. Many of these board members are former CEOs and executives themselves. Some may be angling for future CEO positions as well. So it’s in their best interests to be generous. Down the line the roles may very well be reversed, where they are the CEO having to answer to the board.

I propose firing 15% of staff so that we can give ourselves bonuses and buy a SEX JET!

I propose firing 15% of staff so that we can give ourselves bonuses and buy a SEX JET!

All in all, what we here have is a good ol’ boy network of executives scratching each other’s backs. They don’t burn bridges lest they risk a possible golden parachute for themselves in the future. It’s simply a game of musical chairs; the only difference is that everyone wins. CORRECTION: The executives and board members win. If you’re a drone and the CEO fucks up, you’ll have to sign up for unemployment benefits.

Soup Kitchen

…and soup kitchens.

So Mattrick has simply played the game and won. He can now ride off into Canadian sunset, home of Mounties, maple syrup, Tim Horton’s, and hockey teams that will ultimately lose to the New York Rangers in the NHL playoffs.

So Kudos to you Mr. Mattrick. You have won the game of life. You have made an extraordinary amount money for doing what turns out to be a mediocre job. I salute you.

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