There's product placement, and then there's having two guys awkwardly geek out about product placement in front of a live audience of 6,000 and hundreds of thousands more watching the stream online on YouTube and Twitch. German luxury marque Audi has teamed up with videogame juggernaut Square Enix to produce a custom, one-off Audi R8 that will be featured, in digital form, in the upcoming Kingsglaive tie-in movie for Final Fantasy XV, the latest installment in the best-selling series. (Yes, that is a "Vorsprung durch Technik" banner in the background.) Little else has been revealed about the collaboration, but based on materials released so far, it looks like the customization is purely cosmetic.
However, Kingsglaive was not the only announcement at the "Uncovered: Final Fantasy XV" event last night. The game itself was the main focus of the evening and the reveal, once you get past all the swords and guns and explosions, was a strange throwback to a time before most of the audience was born – the '80s.
At its core, Final Fantasy XV is a road trip movie-videogame featuring four guys bro-ing it up on their way to what must be the most depressing bachelor party this side of the Red Wedding, complete with a cover of "Stand by Me" performed by Florence and the Machine. If it sounds bonkers, it is; and it makes a legitimate question of whether the game designers intended for the teaser trailer's ending – the guys lifting off into the air in a flying car – to be a homage to Grease. And the flying car itself looks like it was plucked from the original Batman movie.
So, automotive attractions abound in Square Enix's latest efforts, and while the association with Audi is at least as bewildering as Mercedes-Benz and Mario Kart, the use of a real-world brand falls in line with the studio's push for verisimilitude. And stranger "collaborations" have happened in Final Fantasy – Louis Vuitton, anyone?