I was surprised Saturday night by two things:
- MMA fight series EliteXC airing matches on CBS in primetime on Saturday night
- Gaming advertising not only finding its way into the sport, but it was the primary sponsor
First I sat there scratching my head wondering how Capcom would allow someone to co-opt their Street Fighter brand from them, as I saw ads for streetfighter.com on all of the cage pads, and then realized that the commercial for Street Fighter 4 that aired during the commercial break was no strange circumstance.
Even more impressive was the “Vs.” matchup screen sponsorship by Street Fighter, where their SF4 logo graphic could be seen plainly between the two fighters.
Amazingly, this is a pretty fitting sponsorship for MMA fights. I really couldn’t think of any game more worthy of the title. Street Fighter was the first “no holds” fight to the unconscious, and even though MMA has become very streamlined in the styles selected (everyone uses a striking/wrestling combination now), its roots in the original UFC matches were straight out of a fighting game: Tai Kwon Do vs. Karate. Shaolin Kung Fu vs. American Wrestling. At any rate, I was impressed that our industry was finally finding new ways to find the mainstream audience to buy our games. I imagine Nascar sponsorship is just around the corner, but I can only imagine something like World of Warcraft being able to pull it off (as it’s a game that is “sold” year round, and could therefore sponsor a driver for a full year as opposed to the monthly sales model of most games).
But even more interesting was the sponsorship of female MMA fighter Gina Carano (you might know her as Crush from American Gladiators season 2). She entered the ring to the music from Command and Conquer 3, and was wearing a special sport Command and Conquer 3 shirt (wore it for the fight, too).
While I found that sponsorship to be odd (but cool), I’ve just now found out by reading her entire Wikipedia entry that she is set to play Natasha in Command and Conquer 3.
I guess that explains all of the CnC3 sponsorship, eh?