Ad Space – Hero Wars Likes to Lie

You are now entering Ad Space, a realm of commercials, brought before us so we might examine how they work, and discuss why we both love and hate them so. So it is written …

The Product:
Hero Wars mobile game

The Promotions:

The Pitch:
Yes, this is totally representative of the game, we swear. *wink*

These Hero Wars commercials are somewhat infamous. Partly because, for a while, it was hard to open a YouTube video without being inundated with these little ads. But mostly it’s because they straight up lie to the viewer.

Watching these ads, you’d assume Hero Wars is a puzzle game, where your hero character is trying to reach some goal (escape a trap, gain some treasure, rescue a damsel) and you need to move objects on the screen to clear their path without killing them. That … is not what the game is.

The actual Hero Wars is a strategy battle game where you send your heroes to fight enemies, so you can gain more heroes to command and more powerups to buff their stats, so they’ll be able to fight stronger enemies, so you can get even more heroes and loot, so you can fight even stronger enemies, ad infinitum. (Or you can just pay real world money to get in-game powerups. That’s their main business model.)

Someone else already made a video contrasting the gameplay shown in the ads with gameplay you actually get when you download the game:

(I’ll mention here that some of the puzzles shown in the ads do exist within the game, as short mini-games you can unlock by completing certain objectives. According to some sources, these were only added to the game after the ads came out and people kept complaining about not being able to play the puzzles, but I haven’t found confirmation of that.)

You might be wondering, why would they advertise Hero Wars as being a completely different genre from the actual product?

Well, I can kinda see where they’re coming from. Watching footage of Hero Wars gameplay, it’s hard to get a good sense of what the player is actually doing. It probably makes sense and can be engrossing while you’re playing it, but from just watching, I can’t tell what it feels like to play the game, and what all the player has to do to win or lose.

Not so with the puzzle ads. From an advertising perspective, they have the advantage that, from just thirty seconds of video, you can intuitively understand how the game is played. You see someone monkey around with those keys or pipes or whathaveyou, and you just get what the goal is and how you go about reaching it. And by having the player in the ads always fail (and die in hilarious ways), viewers will go, “I know I could have solved that if given the chance”, which leads to them downloading the game to prove themselves right.

Of course, once they download the game, they’re in for a rude surprise. A lot of people have been pissed that Hero Wars was not as advertised (so much so that someone made a blatant ripoff called Hero Rescue that looks and plays exactly like the puzzle games shown in the ads). But to get pissed, they’d first have to download the game, and with these sort of free-to-play/pay-to-win mobile games, just getting it on someone’s phone is 90% of the battle.