Kate Upton Is Shilling A Terrible Game

Kate Upton Is Shilling A Terrible Game

During last night’s Super Bowl, millions watched as Kate Upton stepped out of a bathtub, donned battle armour and escaped a crumbling stronghold on horseback. The game she’s advertising is nowhere near as exciting.

The game is Game of War: Fire Age from Machine Zone, and the reported $US40 million advertising campaign featuring the world famous actress/model is the money-soaked evolution of the Evony ads that infested Facebook a few years back. The older ads featured attractive women attired less-than-modestly, beckoning the viewer to “Play Now, My Lord.” The Upton ads are essentially the same thing, only in live-action, full-motion form with massive effects budgets.

Plus, unlike the painted women of Evony, Upton actually appears in Game of War, though she’s not quite the goddess of the battlefield seen here.

Kate Upton Is Shilling A Terrible Game

Perhaps if Game of War: Fire Age were an action game we’d have gotten to see Upton riding through fantasy battlefields, whispering combat secrets into the ears of soldiers. But Game of War is a mobile free-to-play massively multiplayer online strategy game, so her appearance as the character Athena is limited to static tutorial screens, messages and the odd in-game gold sale splash.

The action depicted in the ad campaign, crafted by the marketing creatives at Untitled Worldwide, is only implied in Game of War. It’s what players of the social strategy MMO might imagine as they navigate countless menus and wait out a seemingly unending series of timers.

Kate Upton Is Shilling A Terrible Game

It’s the same free-to-play mobile take on strategy games like Civilisation we’ve seen countless times before, first on Facebook and then on mobile as the social gaming platform of choice changed. Players build a fortress, cover it with tiny buildings that produce wood or metal or stone or soldiers. The gathered resources are used to upgrade the tiny buildings and gather soldiers for defence and conquest.

Players join alliances, which can work together to help reduce the ever-present timers. Combat involves watching your troops march across the map, some dust clouds covering up the random number crunching, and then watching your troops march home.

It’s basically a complicated version of Clash of Clans, which also ran a (much more entertaining) Super Bowl ad last night. Game of War is a much deeper game, but that depth translates to confusing menus clashing with ads for its in-game gold bargains.

Kate Upton Is Shilling A Terrible Game

So where’s the appeal? What has kept Game of War: Fire Age consistently ranked as high as number two (right below Clash of Clans) in the iPhone’s “Top Grossing” list since its 2013 iOS debut?

As with CoC, the answer lies somewhere between community and competition. The social aspect of these base building and battling games delivers a sensation akin to the feeling of importance and belonging that comes of being a member of a traditional MMORPG guild. Helping other players conquer obstacles — even if those obstacles are mostly timers — can be quite rewarding.

Combine that feeling with the fact that every time a player purchases real-money items and resources there are benefits got their entire Alliance, and suddenly it’s not so hard to spend five dollars here or ten dollars there. Hell, I spent ten dollars playing the game for research — those sales splash pages are mighty enticing.

Kate Upton Is Shilling A Terrible Game

And who knows? Maybe all of that community spirit can carry your Alliance to the top of the laederboards, making you King or Queen of the entire virtual world.

Game of War: Age of Fire is not a game for me. It’s not a game for any traditional gamer — anyone that’s experienced the glory of Civilisation could never be contented with such a pale, money-hungry imitator, even with a massive global community behind it.

This is a game for the non-gaming masses, the millions of people out there who’ve never sat in front of their computer desperately trying to fend off a nuke-crazed Gandhi. The sort of people who, upon catching a flashy Super Bowl ad featuring a movie star or model or whatever CG nonsense Heroes Charge released, pick up their phones and play.

Let’s hope they aren’t expecting Kate-Upton-riding-away-from-a-collapsing-castle-in-slow-motion (possibly while eating a messy cheeseburger) levels of excitement. That would take a far better game than Game of War: Fire Age.


  • I remember when these types of games were just called Caesar and you didn’t have to pay to win.

  • The mobile industry really frustrates me. They could make some really good online strategy type games but instead they just make casual money grabbing titles. I still play cricket and basketball browser based management games and an app based strategy game in that slow play style would work well I think.

    • They could make fantastic mobile games, with deep satisfying gameplay, but microtransactions have ruined these types of games utterly.

      • As a mobile game developer it angers me to see games succeed by exploiting their players.

        IAPs are not inherently evil. Games need to make money — they cost money to make — and the sad fact is it’s much harder to make money without the freemium model.

        There are $15 games that are deep and complex, but they simply don’t monetise well on mobile platforms. If they did there’d be more of them.

    • This is one of my pet peeves. We have a situation here where mobile gaming could create a really good online strategy game. Yet the only one I could think of is Ingress. I have a windows phone so I have not played it before so I have no experience with it, but IAPs has made the biggest enemy in any online strategy game to be timers, not players.

    • Yeah, these types of mobile-based exploitation are a cancer on gaming.
      I want to come up with some kind of derogatory genre-title for them, but just can’t think of anything snappy enough.

  • Whether you’re being bathed by concubines or escaping your burning city, you should always stare seductively into the camera and pout.

    • No matter how many people are dying on the walls defending your city, there’s always time to style your hair.

  • “…there are benefits got their entire Alliance…” ??? 🙂

    Reminds me of a Morecambe & Wise quote: “All men are fools, and what makes them so is having beauty like what I have got.”

    Or more recently “All your base are belong to us.”

    • The author didn’t bother to check his grammar and spelling before submitting this article. The “laederboards” must be a German thing.

    • I registered to Kotaku specifically so I could up vote your comment.

      “I’m sorry I’m late, but I’ve been irrigating the desert. It’s very difficult on your own”

  • Look if I were a B-grade celebrity I’m sure I’d be willing to do exactly the same thing so long as the price was right! This isn’t really different to American celebs heading to Japan to do commercials for products that they’ve never heard of before.

  • Perhaps if Game of War: Fire Age were an action game we’d have gotten to see Upton riding through fantasy battlefields, whispering combat secrets into the ears of soldiers.

    When a mobile/browser games shows action and adventure that don’t even try to indicate what the game is actually like it’s terrible, but Blizzard releases a trailer that’s nothing like anything you’ve ever done in World of Warcraft and we praise them for it. Remember when everyone swooned over the Star Wars The Old Republic trailer that was clearly just a scene from a CG Star Wars fan film that in no way represented how the game would play? It’s not just MMOs either, it’s a standard technique as old as gaming itself.
    I really don’t think our problem is with how the ads fail to represent actual gameplay, we just object to the idea that a beautiful woman can get our attention.

    • It’s a fair point, but one of your examples is off. If you watch the 3x Star Wars CGI Blur studio trailers and have played SWTOR, you’ll actually be able to spot all the different in-game moves that the characters perform.

      Go ahead, re-watch it, there’s obviously been a really high level of collaboration between the studios on that one. As someone who maxed a Sith Warrior, I can name every combat move used by Malgus while he’s stomping around the Jedi temple. Same movements for the stances… It’s actually really impressive.

      • That’s really interesting, but would you say it represents the actual gameplay experience? Admittedly the game was more cinematic so it was a lot closer than other games, and as sick as I was of those WoW era ability spam MMORPGs SWTOR was still a great game, but I still don’t think the trailer was selling the same experience the game was intending to deliver. Granted nobody is going to get excited over a trailer of someone standing around figuring out stat priorities and rotations. =P

    • evony and ivory live together again in perfect harmony…

      oops. Sorry. I was just remembering a different post-Beatles highlight of Paul McCartney’s career. The other was that wonderful Destiny promo video.

  • Wait, it’s a game?! From the YouTube thumbnail I thought it was another of those bad parody movies…

  • Mobile gaming is like communism. While the concept is not necessarily a bad one, every real-world implementation has been a disaster.

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