Although video games are very much an accepted part of 21st century culture, it's still quite rare to see prominent advertisements for them in many places.
How true that statement is depends on where you live, of course; in my native UK, you'll see lots of commercials for mobile games like Candy Crush Saga if you go into a big city like London, but in smaller towns such as the one I live in, you're lucky if you see a single bus with the words "Call of Duty" emblazoned on the side of it for a week prior to the launch of this year's installment.
Japan, though... Japan is an altogether different matter. Anyone who has visited somewhere like Akihabara will know how seriously significant parts of Japan's population take their electronic entertainment, and it's not at all unusual to see high-profile displays promoting new or upcoming titles.
The latest game to enjoy a big marketing campaign in Japan is Square Enix's upcoming MMO Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. These photos and videos, snapped by Q-Games' James Mielke yesterday, show just how seriously Square Enix is taking the new game, which is out next week. Alternatively, it could also be seen as a sign that Square Enix really needs the rebooted MMO to be a big success to justify all the time and money it's spent revamping it. And, err, marketing it.
This Vine shows a series of animated FFXIV ads that Mielke came across at Shibuya Station in Tokyo, one of the busiest commuter stations in the country. The animations appear to show how the in-game models compare to the original concept art for the game -- pretty close, in most cases -- and also give demonstrations of several of the available classes. I can definitely see high-level Black and White Mages (or possibly their lower-tier equivalents Thaumaturgist and Conjurer) -- any guesses on what the others might be?
Still at Shibuya Station, the banner pictured above adorns the outside of the building, prominently displaying the array of character possibilities along with the game's release date and platforms. There's no mention of PS4, though presumably this is because it'll be quite some time before the game is ported to Sony's next-gen platform.
Here's perhaps the most interesting instance of FFXIV advertising: the Eorzea Mirror. By standing in front of the display (Let's Action!) the on-screen characters will mimic your actions, presumably using some sort of Kinect-like motion tracking technology. The background looks a lot like the Thanalan region, an area that lies just outside one of the game's starting cities, Ul'Dah.
Here's a look at people playing with the display. It looks like it's not just player characters interacting with the viewers, but also iconic creatures from the Final Fantasy series such as Cactuars and Moogles, both of whom appear in Final Fantasy XIV.
All that makes those Facebook game ads on American public transit look a bit pathetic, no? Will this spectacular display be enough to ensure Final Fantasy XIV is a success? That's anyone's guess right now, though the crowded servers of open beta were a good sign; the true test will come once the game launches properly early next week.
For those who have preordered the game, be sure to head over to this site and enter your pre-order code to ensure you'll get into Early Access over the weekend.