My recent batch of acquisitions included not only a plethora of actual games, but a number of sample discs as well. One is a Generator disc, volume 1 of a series of Sega Dreamcast sample discs. I have yet to delve into this one.
Next is a fairly non-descript optical disc simply labeled “Merchandise Video” and bears the ubiquitous PlayStation symbol. The circumference of the disc lists a number of games. I pop it into my DVD player (which doubles as my PlayStation 2) and it begins playing immediately. The disc plays a brief commercial for each of the games previously listed and loops when it gets to the end of the string. Pressing “Menu” seems to just reset the commercials. This leads me to believe that this disc is meant to be played on autopilot in a sealed PS2 kiosk. The promotional material for God of War is enticing but nothing else on the disc really impressed me.
Next up is the Ubi Soft Product Catalog 2004-2005. This is perhaps the most fascinating disc of the crop if only for the dire message: “Content not approved for consumer use. Not for distribution to the public.” Forbidden material– I’m intrigued. The disc is a CD-ROM that contains promotional material for a number of Ubi Soft games for a variety of platforms. Each game comes with some screenshots and some general artwork. Several come with trailers and other video files that are encoded in a diversity of multimedia formats. Nothing too special so far. The most interesting aspect is that every game entry comes with a “fact sheet” — a .DOC file that describes the game in a single printed page — as well as a directory named “Product Presentation – NOT FOR PUBLIC USE”. This contains a PowerPoint presentation that basically sells the game. My question was, “Sell to whom?” At first, I figured that maybe this was for investor relations, a sort of video game company prospectus. But on deeper examination, it appears that the slides attempt to sell the game to a retail establishment. This is a fascinating glimpse into the video game industry. I’m pretty sure the slides are trying to convince retailers why they should devote shelf space to these titles, or perhaps give particular titles more prominent real estate on the selling floor. For example, many of the presentations have a slide devoted to “THE BRAND” which documents the strong selling history of the franchise (and most of these games belong to franchises; Ubi Soft is not known for taking chances on unknowns, though neither is any other publisher).
A lot of the material reminds me of documents I see on the inside of corporate America that are customarily marked “Company Confidential — Not For External Distribution” (which is something that makes every corporate drone chuckle with the knowledge that no one inside the company could possibly care about the document, much less an outsider). Anyway, I doubt that this is actual confidential material. As mentioned, this is probably intended as industry marketing material. There is also the fact that the marketing material is not yet finalized. For example, Prince of Persia: Warrior Within is still known as Prince of Persia 2 throughout the disc’s material.
As for the audio/visual promotional material, there is nothing that really catches my eye. Sure, all of the screenshots and artwork are sharp. But there are no videos that deserve instant YouTube treatment. However, I couldn’t believe the timeliness of this screenshot from Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory:
That brought back fond memories of Crystalis’ prophetic “End Day” (1997/10/01).
The last sampler disc is called Sega Screams Volume 1. It is for the Sega Saturn. I have not explored it using my Saturn console yet, but I can view some of the files on it. Here is one movie that’s fun enough to upload to YouTube, the intro of the Saturn version of Virtual On: Cyber Troopers: