Teeing off for 25 years – Mario Golf 64

22nd May 2024 by Steven Dean

I’m a HUGE nostalgic gaming fan. I love old consoles and games and whenever I get the chance to buy something that’s as old, or even older than I am, I take it.

This month, Mario golf 64 is 25 years old. Can you believe that? In it’s time, Mario Golf 64 has sold just under 12 million units worldwide but more notably, one sealed copy has just sold for a staggering 1.5 million dollars at auction!

This got me thinking about my childhood playing this game endlessly (if only I’d kept the box…). Toad Highlands was by far my favourite course, and I reckon I could still drop a perfect round.

Now that I work in marketing for the gaming industry (12-year-old Dean would be VERY excited to hear) I’m interested to know how they marketed these games back in the day. I tried to think back to recall any campaigns I’d seen, rather than reaching straight for our trusty pal google, and couldn’t think of any other ways than promotions in gaming stores and features in magazines. After all even demos weren’t a thing back then! So, google it is, and to my amazement it all came flooding back to me! WE USED TO HAVE VHS DEMOS! VHS demos were a video cassette you could rent or buy attached to a magazine which showed you upcoming games, new releases and behind the scenes footage of the game being made *instantly opens eBay to buy said VHS for ’educational purposes’* It was also a heavy feature in the 1996 E3 trade show allowing fans to play the games and chat to developers.

We’ve talked about how they marketed games back in the day, now lets talk about the actual comparisons with then marketing and now marketing.

How would we compare VHS and tv commercial marketing then to 2024’s marketing strategies? YOUTUBE! Maybe marketing isn’t that different from then to now. It’s just more accessible now than it was; but…that was part of the adventure, no?

Imagine being so limited in what you can see about a video game before you purchase. Do you think that would hinder sales? I personally believe it wouldn’t hinder sales due to curiosity getting the better of me. Now-a-days, you see too much gameplay and nothing is left to the imagination, but that’s just evolution of marketing.

Check out the TV and VHS commercial for Mario Golf 64. Here you can see use human actors to primarily promote the game, using limited in-game clips and therefor not ruining the experience of playing for the first time.

With the E3 trade show coming to an end in 2021, we can still look at how marketing in events like E3 works for video games. There are plenty of gaming festivals around the world that showcase video game launches, but aside from that, developers and game studios now do live streaming reveals, social media teasers, gameplay teasers and beta releases. How can we compare the gameplay teasers and social media teasers now to that golden era when Mario Golf 64 dropped? Well, they did the same then but just in magazine form!

Marketing has evolved MASSIVLEY, but when you really think about it, it’s kind of the same.

In summary, I love marketing now, but I also know I was a sucker for marketing then. I’m sure this isn’t the last time we will explore how a game was marketed vs how it would be marketed now, which brings me to a final thought.

Here at MEG, we can make bespoke campaigns to push your product, game or whatever it is you want to promote. What I’m saying is, maybe a retro style campaign could be just around the corner. I’ll leave that thought with you.

Happy 25th Anniversary Mario Golf 64