Beer and computer games: From Black Ops to Black Hops

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Beer and computer games: From Black Ops to Black Hops

Related tags Alcoholic beverage

First Carlsberg announced a beer to coincide with the launch of Fallout 4, a computer game; now Australian craft brewer Black Hops Brewing has followed suit. 

The Gold Coast company has signed a partnership with game maker Activision with an amusingly named accompaniment for Call of Duty: Black Ops III in the form of Black Hops Midnight Pale Ale. 

The 4.8% abv brew is described as "light and refreshing with tantalising hop aromas of pine and citrus fruit​” and is already available. 

While the Carlsberg tie-in, a light-coloured pilsner lager inspired by the record breaking post-nuclear adventure series, is expected to sell more than 20m units around the world, Black Hops will only be available in much smaller quantities in Australia.

Spiros Malandrakis, senior alcoholic drinks analyst at Euromonitor International, says the semantics of popular culture and the alcoholic drinks industry’s rituals, trends and references have historically shared more than just the occasional pick-me-up. 

It has been—and remains—a fully-fledged symbiotic relationship​,” he explains, adding that both media and drinks share a tradition of “dreams, aspirations, escapism and indulgence​”.

Emotional investment and the relevance of a brand’s implicit or unequivocal narrative to its core demographic—or lack thereof—are key variables in the seemingly alchemic equation that draws the line between success and failure​. 

It is this need for authentic stories tapping into the zeitgeist that gave birth to the on-going craft revolution—as much if not more so than a sudden and inexplicable collective shift of palates towards bolder flavour profiles​.”

Celebrity endorsements, signature serves and movie tie-ups have been and will remain key but the digital era and the meteoric rise of new forms of content and engagement are radically changing the playing field. Enter the video games universe.  

In terms of spending per person on video games last year, Australia ranked second to the United Kingdom, meaning the country spends more on video games than North America and most of Western Europe. 

Australian consumers are eager to keep up with the latest in video games hardware and software, and the release of the 8th Generation gaming consoles, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, at the end of 2013, led to a substantial growth in the static game console category. This also boosted sales of video games hardware accessories​,” says Euromonitor games analyst Hianyang Chan. 

Video games have moved beyond the restrictive territory of adolescent introspection a long while back. Commanding a huge and fiercely loyal base of adult followers that identify with characters, plot lines and lore, they can nowadays provide immersive experiences blurring the lines between the worlds in concepts such as virtual reality​.”  

While alcoholic drink and video-game licensing tie ups do face the very real danger of falling foul of draconian advertising regulation in some markets such as the US, the opportunity to regain relevance is too great to miss, says Malandrakis. 

Creating specially tailored products that respectfully embrace the universe of the game they are inspired from instead of aggressively highjacking it with awkward product placements will be the key for pushing all the right button with the ever elusive millennial demographic​.”

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