Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is now available, and if you’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos lately, this fact will be old news to you. The sneakly/stabby/slashy video game has sponsored a veritable deluge of YouTube videos, with many of the site’s most prominent creators agreeing to promote. The Assassin’s Creed IV brand campaign has featured a massive scale on YouTube, but what effect will it have on the games sales?
We previously noted a branded series from VICE called Rum, Guns, and Gallows, in which the edgy journalism teamed up with the pirate-y video game for a look into the lives of pirates. VICE’s effort was one of the first (and perhaps the most direct) branded series to feature the latest installment in Ubisoft‘s all-star franchise, but several huge channels have followed suit. Epic Rap Battles of History featured Blackbeard in its latest episode. Smosh created a special song for the second Assassin’s Creed game in a row. Corridor Digital made a fan film starring the game’s protagonist, Edward Kenway. SkyDoesMinecraft made a brand video in his game of choice. Man at Arms forged Kenway’s trademark hidden blade. Most deliciously, Epic Meal Time created an edible pirate ship.
These efforts (and many others) have scored tens of millions of views for Assassin’s Creed IV, but how well will these YouTube views translate to real-life profits? You’d have to think they will have quite an effect. The franchise launched a similar (but smaller-scale) YouTube campaign before the release of Assassin’s Creed 3, and it must have seen enough success to inform publishers and distributors that a huge Black Flag YouTube takeover would be a worthwhile endeavor.
The benefits aren’t hard to see: Black Flag has been the most visible holiday release, even outpacing the latest offering from YouTube standout franchise Call of Duty. For gamers who can only afford (or only wish) to purchase one game this holiday season, Black Flag will be the first idea that comes to mind.
But these branded videos alone won’t tell the whole story. If Assassin’s Creed‘s team really wants YouTube to have a huge impact on Black Flag‘s sales, it is only halfway to its goal. It has drummed up hype for the game, and over the next few weeks, viewers will flock to their favorite gameplay channels in search of footage. The channels that provide this footage are the most important ones for Assassin’s Creed to enlist. If PewDiePie isn’t screaming at a copy of Black Flag within the next week, Ubisoft will have made a clear misstep.