VICE vs Video games

Reviewing the Furious Replies to Kate Upton’s Promoted ‘Game of War’ Tweets

You can't avoid the marketing, but you can at least laugh at what people are saying in reaction to it.

by Mike Diver
22 April 2015, 7:33am

Kate Upton as she appears in this trailer for 'Game of War'

If you're on Twitter, you've seen them: promoted tweets supporting the already incredibly successful freemium mobile title, Game of War: Fire Age. I reckon they pop up in my feed two or three times per week, easy, and I've seen some people claim they're more frequent than that; but not once have I been tempted to head to the App Store to download the game in question, ostensibly an online multiplayer strategy game decked out in some Game of Thrones-like fantasy garb. But that's just because I'm not really into these kind of games, personally – the reviewers' take on Game of War is that, for all its cash-grab "free-to-play" mechanics and cluttered user interface, it's not the worst example of its kind on the market.

Game of War was released in 2013, and soon enough took up residence amid the top-grossing "get" titles available – you know, the likes of Clash of Clans and Boom Beach, the tap-away-your-salary games that end up in the press because daddy didn't properly restrict his kids' access to all the progression-enabling real-money upgrades available. But at the beginning of 2015, courtesy of a $40 million advertising campaign, Game of War took on a new lease of hugely profitable life. One horse, a model not wearing very appropriate armour, some half-decent CGI and thousands of extras that nobody paid the slightest bit of attention to: the game's Super Bowl ad on the 1st of February sent its profile supernova.

I had no idea who Kate Upton was until she started to stray into my Twitter feed. Turns out, she's the model-actress whose chest protection could have done with further attention. Signed up as the star of Game of War's advertising charge, she wasn't simply an on-camera representation of Athena – her likeness also made it into the game itself, and her personal Twitter account began to seed Game of War among even those with zero interest in mobile gaming. Promoted tweets are easily enough ignored for the most part, but Upton's – "Upton's", really, as it's not like she's writing them – have just been incessant. You cannot ignore them. And, boy, has that ever pissed people off.

Let's have a look at what Twitter users have been saying in reply to these promoted tweets, because obviously Kate herself is going to see them and take the requested action. We start back in January, before that Apparently Significant American Football Match. (Note that the replies are not necessarily directly after the first posts of these promoted tweets – the timeline jumps around a fair bit, here, from January right to the present day.)

"I HATE THIS STUPID ASS AD!"
Which is pretty much why this "article" even exists. For which I already apologise.

"your hair looks fabulous but your choice of dress is ill advised for the mythical battlefield"
A sage observation – and at a time when the depictions of women in video games has never been under more scrutiny, and rightly so. Upton's armour really wouldn't stand up to much, and she really should be taking more care if she is indeed Athena, who was/is the goddess of wisdom, after all. It's just not very realistic now, is it? Snaps us right out of the fiction. George R.R. Martin wouldn't stand for this crap.

"your advert is bobbins and mobile gaming is poo"
As per the above, yes, it's certainly, to define the very British slang in question, rubbish. Very expensive rubbish, but rubbish nonetheless. But mobile gaming, poo? Come now, you're just not looking hard enough. Snake was amazing! And there are some decent games around today, too. Why, only this morning I spent the time it takes to ride a train between Millwall's Den and New Cross Gate station in the company of Alto's Adventure. Can I get two triple backflips on one run, though? Can I fuck.

"how much were you paid to advertise this shit"
"Low seven figures," apparently.

"JUST GO AWAY! If I receive this tweet AGAIN I will report it as offensive! I am offended by the constant intrusion"
Thing is, it just doesn't work.

"just a bird with tits"
Say what you see, mate. Say what you see. You're the Andy Townsend of Twitter.

"this is the only way to sell a video game apparently"
It's not. You can also offer lucky parents $10,000 if they name their new-born child after your shitty game, plaster a load of borderline racist billboards all over town, or get your television advert outright banned for its "shocking bad taste". Course, breasts are known to work, too. I wonder where Game of War got their Athena idea from, anyway.

A little later, that same month:

"No, Kate Upton, I will not. I encourage you to be your own hero."
An admirable stance, for sure – women should indeed feel just as empowered as dudes with dongs, whatever the situation. I mean, it helps, no doubt, to have an army of willing sacrificial soldiers by your side in any real game of war, but in video games we certainly need more female heroes who the player doesn't feel an overbearing guardian of. More Samus, more often, thanks.

"oh please your tits would be in your navel without your push up steel bra"
Kate Upton is 22 years old. I appreciate that she might have large bosoms (does she, really? Truthfully I've no idea about this stuff, in comparison to those who actually suffer pain and discrimination because of the size of their breasts), but the condition of ptosis – sagging – tends to become a factor later in life than one's early twenties. And besides, the use of a decent, supportive bra – be that of the traditional underwired variety or something more steely and medieval – can slow down the droop. So she's doing the right thing.

"sod the others... I'd be so delighted to have you on the back seat of my car"
Creepy. Blocked.

"sit on my face and ill play the shitty game"
I can definitely foresee some complications with this dynamic. You might not quite get the ideal experience.

"Please stop sending me this. I'll call the police"
Alas, promoted tweets are not considered a nuisance on the same level as, say, dog turds in a burning paper bag on your door step, or Ukip flyers in the letterbox. Or even a dog shit wrapped in Ukip propaganda and wedged beneath your wheelie bin. I very much doubt your local law enforcement officers will intervene in this matter – although they, too, are likely just as narked with the bombardment of messages.

"Kate you little tease, we both know you're not really waiting."
At least someone can see behind the veil of marketing. Although they are still replying to a promoted tweet, so.

This is what the game looks like, so you can kind of understand the TV advertising angle

And at the end of January:

"plz bitch, you've always been in a game! with 2 balls instead of one! Christ!!"
I can't say I really understand what game this comment is referring to. Or is it supposed to mean her breasts? What kind of game can you play with those? Maybe don't answer that. Anyway, such rudeness, even in response to a promoted tweet, really can't be encouraged, so, next.

"Are you in the game or just a commercial for a game?"
Yes.

"Unsolicited crap!"
Indeed, but who are you telling, and why should they care? What do you hope to achieve from announcing to your own 555 followers (Upton: 1.96 million) that you're receiving what is, basically, junk mail? Do you expect the game's makers, Machine Zone, to send you a 140-character letter of apology? "We are terrifically sorry that an advertisement for our very popular mobile game appeared in your Twitter feed. We will now go away and kill a goat, as penance." How many characters was that? Too many, definitely. Check your privilege, sir!

"put some clothes on! You in a bathtub has nothing to do with a video game. At least, I hope not. Well, kind regards."
Polite, which is nice. And concerned too, presumably, that young Miss Upton may well catch her death hurrying from her bathing to fend off some nefarious invaders, or whatever the hell is actually going on here. But come on, now: nothing to do with a video game? What's the point of mobile gaming if you can't enjoy Jetpack Joyride while having a soak? Or a few spins of Super Hexagon while taking a sh...

"gtfo of my feed already"
I've got to say, that's just no way to speak to the bot version of a very successful swimsuit model, is it?


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Onto the night of the Super Bowl, and another promoted tweet (I bet quinnmurphy1 is bummed they missed out on an "@"):

"beautiful talented lady can I get a follow"
No.

"@ClashofClans is better"
Well you, sir, are on the money. The Metascore for Clash of Clans currently stands at a respectable 74 and a user score of 64, whereas Game of Fire's is some way behind on 67, with a user rating of just 1.8. Must be that messy UI.

"What's the nude code?"
See, this guy knows what guys really want. Albeit in a world I don't really want to live in.

Long story, short: you simply cannot avoid Kate Upton in your feed, so you may as well make your peace with her. And while you're doing that, I'll be off creating a freemium game with which I, too, can generate daily revenue of over a million dollars. A million dollars, every day – that's what Game of War is making. I just can't...

@MikeDiver

Previously:

Kitty Powers' Dating Tips for First-Timers

Lucas Pope Tells Us All About 'Return of the Obra Dinn', the Follow-Up to 'Papers, Please'

The Greatest Moments of 'The Legend of Zelda'