What’s it take to become the fastest selling first party launch game in PlayStation history? Three celebrity dads sitting in a room with their children, a buckskin loincloth and one awesome ax.
God of War Ragnarök is the ninth installment to the critically acclaimed God of War series -and coming off of the unparalleled success of God of War 2018, expectations were higher than ever. 2018 had set quite a daunting bar to surpass, it was not only the fastest-selling entry in the franchise history, but became the fastest-selling PlayStation 4 exclusive at the time and sold over 5 million units in its first month. Not to mention the near endless Game of the Year accolades and one incredible Best Video Game of All Time from IGN. In terms of tough acts to follow, we found ourselves presented with a very clear task: beat that.
So just how Kratos and Atreus would be going to realms that they’d never been able to explore before - we knew our solution lay in a place untouched by previous God of War games. With that in mind, we grabbed our Leviathan Axe, packed up our Blades of Chaos, and dove into the world of the game and the audience that had been loving it for nearly two decades.
The franchise itself had gone through a significant transformation - especially in the development of our protagonist Kratos. Once a raging character that relentlessly sliced through his enemies seeking vengeance installment after installment, a massive change shook the franchise in 2018 - Kratos had a son, Atreus. This father son dynamic suddenly took a seemingly one-dimensional violent character and transformed him into something shockingly relatable despite being the God of War - a father. And not some sort of unattainably awesome father who could do no wrong, quite the opposite, a father who was just trying to figure out how to raise his kid right despite the external forces of the world weighing down on him. The fanbase rallied around the change in Kratos and embraced him with a sentiment that wasn’t found in any of the games - humor. Memes around Kratos and his parenting of Atreus flooded the internet and it was clear to us that a shift had happened - one that opened a door to aforementioned new realms - the audience beyond gaming.
Everyone in the gaming world knows about God of War, and everyone in that world was already excited about the next chapter of the game. Now if we converted every single previous purchaser of 2018, we’d fall short of our goal of beating it - but with the relatability of being a parent just trying to figure it all out in mind, it was simply about packaging that in a way that the mainstream wouldn’t be able to ignore.
Now this is where those celebrity dads sitting in a room with their children, a buckskin loincloth and one awesome ax come into play. One of the many things we know about parents is that they stick together. The proliferation of parent influencers and resources across the internet coupled with the countless in person meetups and support groups prove that to be true. And mixed in with all those groups are people who believe in a wide range of parenting styles and preach the benefits to others. So we asked ourselves - why not someone who resonates so deeply with Kratos as a father that they want to share that way of parenting with others.
Enter Ben Stiller, our Kratos evangelist, dressed in perfect Kratos attire down to the Leviathan ax paired with his son Quin, gathering his good celebrity friends LeBron James and John Travolta together with their kids Bronny and Ella Bleu, to sit down and hear about the God of War way of parenting. Three fathers you’d never expect to see in a room together, talking about something you’d never expect them to talk about with one another. The result of them in one room in this ridiculous premise speaks for itself.
The hero commercial debuted during the World Series, immediately catching the attention of a new audience who took to the internet to talk about what it was they just saw. Soon after, the extended version launched exclusively on Entertainment Weekly where over an additional minute of comedy was unveiled. Our celebrity stars and their kids then posted the spot across their social media platforms exposing the God of War franchise to hundreds of millions of fans that would have never connected with the game before.
Then the proof of reaching a new audience started to come through in the form of press coverage. God of War was a franchise that was no stranger to coverage in the likes of IGN, but the celebrities selected were chosen to strategically expand us beyond the gaming trades and the franchise suddenly found themselves written about in Forbes, ESPN, HypeBeast, Huffington Post, ScreenRant, Bleacher Report, Fatherly and more. Outlets across the Americas, Asia, and Europe covered the commercial in droves with people who had never heard of God of War suddenly laughing at what they were watching - and that laughter was contagious.
Whether on PlayStation’s official social channels, our celebrities pages, or the press - the sentiment was astoundingly positive with viewers effusively commenting about how unexpected and enjoyable the content was. Suddenly hundreds of reaction videos to the commercial were being made and uploaded across the internet continuing to expose God of War to new audiences. And the people wanted more - something we always had up sleeves or rather, metal gauntlets.
Each of our celebrities and their child filmed an extended confessional piece that showed them in full Kratos attire excited to have fully adopted the God of War way of parenting. These assets were posted in the days following the original spot on talent social channels, exciting another wave of positivity from fans and more press.
While a ridiculous amount of social engagement, press mentions, and rampant positive social sentiment is wonderful - the goal was to beat God of War 2018 - and we did much more than just that.
That shortage of PS5s for consumers to buy that we’ve all heard about - well it didn’t stop us from making the PS5 exclusive God of War Ragnarök the fastest selling first party launch game in PlayStation’s history, passing up the previous record holders The Last Of Us 2 (4mil) and Spider-Man (3.3 Mil) by selling 5.1 million copies in the first 5 days. Not to mention setting a new God of War franchise record topping the 5 million units that 2018 sold in its first month in under a week - an accomplishment worthy of recognition from King James himself. What could be better than seeing your creative baby go out and conquer the world?
Digiday Video and TV Awards
Best Multi-Platform Video Campaign
Gold - Industry, Gaming
American Advertising Awards National Competition
Gold – Internet Commercial Campaign
American Advertising Awards District Competition
Gold – Internet Commercial Campaign
Silver – National TV Commercial
American Advertising Awards Los Angeles Competition
Best In Show
Gold – Internet Commercial Campaign
Gold – National TV Commercial
ANA REGGIE Awards
Gold - Influencer Marketing
Clio Entertainment Awards
Best Games Live Action Spot Campaign
"All Parents Can Relate"
Best Games Live Action Spot
TV60 "National On-Air Spot"