Evony & Irony

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Evony & Irony

Using sexy advertisements to sell games is nothing new, but what are the makers of Evony thinking?

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Evony ads always annoy me, BUT I CAN'T LOOK AWAY.

Evony itself isn't great anyway. They nickle and dime you a lot and the in game currency has to paid for at ridiculous prices.

And yes, they are a lot more sexualized then Lara Croft come to think of it..

As many fine, upstanding gamers as there are that shun this kind of dishonest and frankly insulting advertising, there are thousands more who will check out the game on the vague chance that you might be able to catch a glimpse of some pixelized sideboob, maybe.

Sad, but true. It's one of the hazards of being part of hobby that horny teenage boys and lonely old men happen to share.

Along time ago, i actually did the worst and click on th ads, then attempted a play at the game, after realizing that this game was for bored accountants, I quickly bounced out

I agree completly on his facts. I mean, do the guys who make Evony even have a sliver of dignity as not to use T&A for once?

Yeah, I agree, using sex to market a game that completely lacks sex is stupid.
What's next? Is Pokemon gonna be marketed with a nude Pikachu and Togepi-on-Togepi action?

I started playing this back when it was still called Civony, and the advertising was merely a well-dressed woman asking you to save her kingdom...

It's a browser-based flash game, a rip-off of just about everything on facebook at the moment. The graphics are ripped straight from Age of Empires II. I'm not surprised that they're pushing things like this, as the poor design has to be seen to be believed - I left after a very short while of playing.

Since then, the name has been changed, and the advertising has, as you point out, got truly horrendous.

Evony aint all that bad a game. Its a copy & paste browser strategy game like, for example, Travien; but I found it fun for a bit. The ads are annoying (though I haven't seen any for a while); but if it works, it works.

Shamus Young:
They've never tried to go after the casual market. Or women. Or teens

Shamus, I do believe that is EXACTLY what they are doing. :P

There shameless I's tell you.

Chris Livingston wrote a review of Evony with exactly the same title, i think it's worth a read:


You've been waiting to use that headline for a LONG time, haven't you Shamus? :)

DDO is really really pants though, and this is from a die-hard d20'er. I'd suggest the Warhammer Online Extended trial; although it's a hell of a download.

The thing is though that there is no comeback against these things. Adverts lie, cheat, insult and (metaphorically) steal every day; and action against private corporations is minimal at best.

TBF, why shouldn't they say anything up to outright character assassination? Because it's only people like Sony etc. that will get slapped for anything, and that usually takes 6 months and half the tax-payers fee.

It's a sad state of affairs, and the only way to deal with it is to make advertisers liable for their adverts. Heineken probably doesn't reach the parts other beers cannot reach, and Carling's probability of being the best beer in the world is really rather low.

Until then, advertisers can smear anything they want over a game in our name and then walk away with our money. :(

Hell, look at C&C's over-gratuitous eye-candy, or a certain sparkly film. Chests sell.

I know a guy who plays this, and apparently likes it. I personally don't click any kind of advertisement on the Internet, but I saw him play it for a bit once, and it looked like a major ripoff of Age of Empires. It's his time, I won't criticize, but the ads are simply ridiculous. And while we're on the subject of bad freeware that had ads everywhere that were rather irritating, Combat Arms. Just ugh. Again, only judging from what I've seen while someone else was playing, but I saw hackers and glitches everywhere, most notably an 8-inch knife with a hitbox of about 6 feet. It gets a bit of credit for having weapons that players have to "rent," instead of permanently keeping, and for graphics that are actually quite good, but I wouldn't even pay someone else to touch it with a 10-foot pole. Yay going semi-off-topic.

The Evony adverts have made me look away from the game because they are so very, very cynically expositive. I mean, I look at them (I am a heterosexual man after all, and lack a girlfriend), but they don't exactly say 'Look, we've got an excellent game'.

Maybe they are getting a cut from porn makers in exchange for firing up men enough to go look for real porn?

Those ads suck. I don't care if the game was actually Team Fortress 2 in disguise. I'd never play or buy something whose ad campaign is purely based off of "Sex Sells".

There's no such thing as bad publicity.

That's twice this week I'm going to have an annoying song stuck in my head. Thanks for that.

Good article, as can be expected. I can't help but wonder how badly attacked Big Namers like EA would be hit if they pursued similar advertising campaigns. Although I am finding their strategy for Dante's Inferno rather intriguing, though will not purchase the game. I also find it a bit curious as why you hadn't touched on the supposed theft behind some of the images in some of the Evony ads.

There's no such thing as bad publicity.

Publicity that costs money and reduces sales instead of increasing them? Publicity that gets the company shut down?

Shamus Young:
This is exactly the sort of situation that creates griefers.

What if they reward your spreadsheet completion with porn?

I mean...you could always directly go and watch porn elsewhere...but in completing a spreadsheet, you can give yourself some false justification for it all.

(*I just thought of a new game...I'm going to work so you better hurry aboard while you still can*)

Yeah, I agree, using sex to market a game that completely lacks sex is stupid.
What's next? Is Pokemon gonna be marketed with a nude Pikachu and Togepi-on-Togepi action?

hmmmm togepi on togepi action where do i sign? :P

but yeah it's a disgusting tactic

What confuses me is why, assuming this ad campaign is working for them, they don't just make a game that involves a lot of skin to match the advertising. They continue developing spreadsheet hero, when they clearly think that what everyone wants is boobs...

They are either very bad at representing the game in their advertising, or very bad at developing a game to match their advertising. Or both.

It always kind of seemed to me like the pr company and the development team never, ever talked to each other.

PR: What's the game about?
Developers: It's called Evony and has a medieval setting.
PR: Good. What else?
Developers: ...
PR: Hello?
Developers: ...
PR: Okay, boobies it is then!

I'm with you 100%, Shamus. This entire situation brings up three huge questions in my mind- so huge, in fact, that I must use boldface and all-caps on the first word of each question.

- WHY are they doing this?
- HOW is it actually working?
- HOW can I pull this sort of thing off myself and make some bank?

Chris Livingston wrote a review of Evony with exactly the same title, i think it's worth a read:


Nice article! Thanks for the linky.
Isn't it particularly ironic that a game would be best-liked by accountant-types is marketed in a rather NSFW way?

Seeing large-breasted women evocatively exposed in online adverts causes me to react the same way as I would if a homeless man started throwing mashed potatoes at me.
I am not hungry. If I were, I would go to a restaurant, or cook something up myself.
Err - if you, y'know, get my meaning.


There's no such thing as bad publicity.

Publicity that costs money and reduces sales instead of increasing them? Publicity that gets the company shut down?

That is bad publicity; but the quote is a general rule not a universal truth. Too much publicity is indeed a problem for many illegal activities, but unless it does force the company to be shut down the gains in name recognition are still usually worth it.

To my knowledge, the advertising for Evony is doing nothing that would get it shut down, and the quote applies in force. It's exploiting bad taste and cheap marketing tricks aggressively. The worst that anybody can do for that is to choose to not play the game, which bears the exact same result as if that person had never heard of it. The fact is that the ads and articles like these make people curious about the actual game and grants name recognition, which may, no matter how unlikely, inspire people to try it. That's a huge step ahead of all the other browser games that don't get exposure.

Any distinction in the huge world of any creative undertaking is good. For an example, I'm sure many of you have heard of ET the Extraterrestrial and Custer's Revenge; now name me a just bad but not horrible Amiga 2600 game. It's probably a lot harder. I also don't doubt that much of Twilight's popularity is directly from its detractors. The same could be said with Evony and its advertising.

Edit: Musing about it a bit more, most examples I can think of suggest the quote seems to mostly apply to creative endeavours. For things like concrete products, poor reliability, performance or customer service that directly hurt the purchaser significantly, bad publicity is indeed bad (Firestone tires, anyone?). I guess there's a strong disincentive to do so if you're taking the product's (or politician's/celebrity's) purpose seriously. And advertising isn't taken seriously; so if that's the product under scrutiny, then the product associated with the advertisements can reap the benefits at a relatively low cost.

The Rogue Wolf:

- HOW is it actually working?

especially this makes no sense at all.....

what put me mostly off the urge to see whats behind the sleazy adds, was the story about that blogger who got sued for badmouthing evony... and he was probably right too!

a company who needs to be on such a defensive at all times SURELY got something to hide. its like the internett porn rule: those who admit they watch porn, watch normal porn. those who say they never watch porn, watches freaky porn :D

It's a stratergy game?
Didn't see that coming.

I have, in fact, seen Evony ads that showed gameplay screenshots instead of the less tasteful ad campaign. They're just as flashy and annoying as other free-to-play game adverts, so it works just as well.

Speaking of Dungeons and Dragons online...is it okay?

I also used to play Civony (Evony), and you are right. Most of the people this game attracts are problem people. Sure there are some nice people but a lot of them leave. The chats are full of people asking for girls to webcam and people screaming cuss words at no one. The only good thing is that they make you pay for each line of chat you use, so these people run out of "banners" or what ever they called it so they can't talk anymore. Pay as in REAL money. you read that right. Guild chat is free but world chat is not. In fact, in order to do almost anything in the game you have to pay. After you get a second castle it is virtually impossible to get a 3rd without spending hundreds of hours farming for hard to get items or paying real money for boxes of goodies that might have what you need. Sure its fun if you like that game type and I do. The city customization is better then most games. But when the ads got embarrassing, me and my best friend quit
But besides the terrible unbalanced game play. Here is the best part:
This might have changed but I doubt it, the only part of any of the characters or hero's that you see is a head shot. There is no where in the game where you ever rescue anyone. You never even see a princess... ever. Its a total lie. Maybe after I left they added in some scenario where you see more that a cartoon girls face, but I am not going to bother to check. (my castle was destroyed by traitorous guide members anyways )

If you like City management games there are tons of them out there, and most of them have better graphics, balance, items, quests, etc. then Evony.
Shame on you Evony, my best friend and I used to enjoy your game.

Two wealthy men at the bar. One says "bet ya can't sell books with sex" the other says "I'll up you on that I'll sell city-building games with sex" "you're on!!"

I cannot think of any better explanation, unless the evony team has not seen what the marketing team has done.

Oh man, do I ever hate these ads. I refuse to play Evony because of their ad campaign despite the fact that I'd probably enjoy it. I, too, am the target audience for this type of game.

It does boggle. Pure speculation, but I think the only reason it works is they must charge money for nearly everything (Darth Jerak above notes that people have to pay to chat)... so duped player clicks on ad, signs up for game, pays to chat and for upgrades... realizes he didn't get what what he signed up for, leaves. But by the time this guy's left, two more duped players click the ad, sign up, lather, rinse, repeat. It's an income based entirely on a transient consumer base, but the consumer base is large enough it's still profitable.

I have noticed the ads being less prevalent the last couple months though, at least where I surf. I think they will eventually run out of targets. But you'd think if they were this good at getting people to click on their ads, they might as well do the easy thing and just sell porn.

As an aside, I was looking around on the Web awhile back for something Civ-like to play in my browser... I almost checked this game out UNTIL I saw the ads. So for every one they're getting to click, they're also driving some potential consumers away.

And as a further aside, here's a trick: you want to sell your game with a sexy lady? Fine. But make her look strong, empowered even if she's showing a bit of lovely decolletage. According to various studies on audience reactions, generally (please note that word, of course there are exceptions) men respond to the character on screen that they want to do something TO--statistically most often a pretty woman that either inspires protective or lustful urges (or both). Women respond to the character on screen that they identify WITH--statistically therefore, also women, usually designed in either a sympathetic way or a way that makes them feel better about themselves. So... for gamers would be a pretty woman, but not only one that inspire men, but also make women look at her and say, "Ooh, I want to be her." But you make the woman look like a victim (or generally totally ridiculous from a woman's POV)? You alienate a portion of your potential userbase. (Again, note these are generalizations and of course there will be exceptions.)

I think your seriously overreacting. Truthfully I've seen Evony's ads and found them unimpressive on any level, even as cheesecake. If it wasn't for Popcap parodying them for "Plants Vs. Zombies" I probably wouldn't know as much about this game as I do now.

On the general subject of cheesecake, I will point out that I think a lot of people in fandom overreact. I think there is both an illusion that there are less girls in the fandom community than there really are, along with the belief that those lesser numbers are in some way due to "exploitive" artwork.

As I've mentioned in other threads, not only are men exploited for the enjoyment of women (especially on romance novel covers) and have been for years, making the cheesecake in fantasy art pretty well balanced in an overall fashion, but the overwhelming amount of women out there are in no way offended by the cheesecake stuff, and in fact a good portion of women who do artwork produce plenty of cheesecake themselves. People who complain about things like Evony ads tend to forget about groups like CLAMP (all female team of Japanese artists) and some of the stuff they have produced in the cheesecake catagory. Not to mention the artwork most artists of either gender will create on comission or try and sell to fans. Years ago there was a scandal where some parents rights groups got one of the Pokemon artists (a woman) charged for producing pornographic pokemon artwork and selling it.

Plus honestly, I think a lot of that cheesecake artwork of pretty girls draws girls in, or so it's seemed to me. Ironically with some of the girls I gamed with especially back in my PnP days I was fairly surprised at their tastes in art. A lot of the pictures I thought were of fairly strong women and should be appealing were not the ones they wound up liking, especially if they were pulling pics (which a lot of gamers I've played with do) and saying "this is my character".

On a final note, when it comes to things like Femjep, I think your a little naive. Femjep is "Female in Jeopardy". There are entire subcultures based around that, and trust me when I say it doesn't just appeal to "men coming to rescue the women" and wannabe slashers. There are plenty of women who have their "rescue" fantasies as well. Plus then there is the entire BSM subculture (missing the D for domination for a reason) and that involves both genders in every role you can imagine within that lifestyle for someone.

The point I'm making here is that these ads, which obviously stuck in the minds of many farmore than me, are not nessicarly going to turn women away. As far as what the game itself looks like, well... to be brutally honest there doesn't seem to be any more disparity between the ads and the game than there are for many other online games (namely korean ones).

Also to be honest, one of my guilty secrets is that I briefly played a game called "Angel Love Online" (or at least that was the Japanese name, I can't remember what it was when I finally ran it in English). I do so specifically because of an ad campaign that made me want to see how the heck someone could actually make an RPG out of that... Sickly it was one of the most honest campaigns I've ever seen on many levels. Compared to that, Evony and it's ads are a slickly run production.

I occasionally have flashbacks to the concept of people riding around in giant stuffed toys as "Mecha"... one day if my life collapses worse, I fear that will be the horrible image flashing before my eyes and tormenting me as I beg for change from passers by....

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