Having spent decades playing video games, I have seen countless games come and go. The games that I can still remember usually have something “representable“, something that brings back memories of the past. Usually this memory is tied closely to a mascot. According to Wikipedia, a mascot can be a person, animal or object that brings luck or to represent a group with common public identity (a brand). Since we are a Tree of Savior game website, let us examine TOS’s mascot, the Tree of Savior.
Mascot worthy? Don’t get me wrong, it is undoubtedly a well designed logo, I just don’t think it is as representable as a mascot yet. Up until now, Tree of Savior has been largely marketed as a successor of Ragnarok Online. If IMC Games wants Tree of Savior to be THE Tree of Savior that everybody loves and have sweet memories about, they should start advertising their game with a mascot.
Memorable Games with a Mascot
I believe a mascot (or an icon) is part of the equation to create a game that has the x-factor. Good games may sell well in the industry with proper marketing. However, great games create hardcore fans that sell the game for them through words of mouth.
Let us go through a few of the examples of excellent video game mascots.
Square Enix created the one of the most successful video game mascots in the Final Fantasy franchise, the Chocobo. Chocobo is a yellow and ostrich sized chicken that can be mounted in Final Fantasy games. Chocobo made its first appearance in Final Fantasy II and since then, Chocobo has never failed to appear in every Final Fantasy franchise. Nowadays whenever one sees a Chocobo image, one relates to Final Fantasy straight away. Chocobo’s mascot has been in Final Fantasy since 1991.
Next on my list would be the Poring from Ragnarok Online. Despite my previous article about how RO is failing, the Poring ranks as one of the best video game mascots in my list. GRAVITY did a superb job creating mascots for Ragnarok Online and boy they are not short with ideas when it comes to this pink monster. Poring comes in many shapes, colors and species: Poring, Poporing, Metaling, Mastering, Deviling, Angeling etc. The Poring is probably the reason why Ragnarok Online is still a much loved game after 12 years.
Sarah Kerrigan and the Zerg Race
Hmm, maybe not everyone will agree with me on this one, but I do believe that the Zerg race led by the metamorphosed Sarah Kerrigan have become a mascot for Starcraft, a game developed by Blizzard. Sarah Kerrigan used to be human, until Arcturus Mengsk abandoned her to the Zerg swarm. The Overmind, the leader of the Zerg at that time thought Kerrigan’s psychic power will be a great weapon against the Protoss. Instead of killing her, the Overmind infested her as a strong Zerg ally, called the Queen of Blades. However, things did not turn out his way, Kerrigan wanted to lead the Zerg race. Eventually, she schemed and killed the Overmind to gain control over the entire Zerg race.
Personally, I think it is the amazing story of Starcraft that made Sarah Kerrigan a mascot. Her story is long, you can read all about it here.
Of course, the list does not end here. Thanks to the responses from our Facebook group, all of these are great examples of video game mascots: Pikachu from Pokemon, Sonic from Sonic, Moogle from Final Fantasy, Protoss from Starcraft, Triforce from Zelda, Agumon from Digimon, Pac-Man from Pac-Man, Mario from Super Mario, Jellopy (LOL) from Ragnarok Online and so on.
Games without a Mascot
Most FPS Games
Most FPS games do not have a mascot. Doom had scary monsters. Quake 2 was pretty addictive when we had it back in 1997. After that was Counter Strike that made a big hit. Everybody was playing Counter Strike until Battlefield came out in 2002, followed by Call of Duty in 2003. After that it was mostly Battlefield and Call of Duty that topped the FPS charts until now. Can you see the pattern? Once a new episode or a new similar franchise comes out, the players don’t go back to play the old game anymore.
Zombies first made appearance in Zombie Zombie in 1984. It did not really become popular until Resident Evil popularized it in 1996. However, as much as Capcom (Resident Evil’s game maker) wanted to make zombies a kind of mascot for their game, as far as I am concerned, it never happened. Zombies do not have the elements of a trademark or a copyright, everybody can copy it, that’s why it never managed to become a mascot. To date there are more than 100 games with zombies in it. I confess, I love killing zombies but I just can’t recall a zombie game that I have completed last year.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Sim City. It has been one of my favourite games since I was a kid. Building your own skyscraper, who doesn’t want that kind of privilege? My point is, once I’m done with the latest episode I wouldn’t replay it. Also listening to Sims talk in Simlish does not bring back sweet memories of the game. The only memory I had with The Sims was “WooHoo” moments and that is not appropriate for video game advertising.
It actually took me quite some time to recall the games that are without a mascot. So if it takes more than 5 minutes for a person to recall a game, that probably means it is not well branded (research not conducted).
Depending on the nature of the game, i.e. whether the game is a yearly release or the game is expected to be played for many years. If it is the latter, branding is extremely important. Branding with a mascot requires creativity and good pair of eyes to identify unique objects that is mascot worthy in the game. Then, developers need to constantly reinforce the appearance of the mascot to players in the game. The catchier the mascot, the easier it is to brand it. Having a mascot is just a tip of the iceberg when it comes to branding a game. However, it is one of the most effective tools for advertising.
As for Tree of Savior, maybe the mascot has not been release yet and the developers have something in store for us. Otherwise, now is the right time to start to design a mascot.
Now is your turn, tell us what are your thoughts about game mascots, which video game mascot you love the most and why.
Image Source: Mascot Party