Assassin’s Creed is doubtless one of the best game series for virtual tourism, whether it’s scaling the pyramids or jumping off the Santa Maria del Fiore dome in Florence. Now, as spotted by Eurogamer, Tourism Ireland has teamed up with Ubisoft for a campaign, marking the first time the game has been used in a country’s official tourism ad.
The ad, which you can watch above, showcases several Irish locations from Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s latest Wrath of the Druids DLC, such as Benbulbin, the Giant’s Causeway and Dublin, which, er, has obviously changed a lot from when Eivor was around in the 850s. The combination of in-game shots and footage from real-life locations, accompanied by suitably epic music, does make for an effective ad, as well as underlining how amazing Valhalla’s facsimile of Ireland looks.
In a statement, Tourism Ireland says the campaign has also appointed several influencers “with a strong Twitch following from the UK, Germany, France, Spain and the Nordic countries to serve as (presumably in-game) Ireland tourism ambassadors. “Ubisoft has done an incredible job in bringing aspects of Celtic Ireland to life in amazing detail. Tourism Ireland’s campaign is a fun and innovative way to bring the island of Ireland to the attention of a new audience of gamers. We want to spike players’ curiosity about the featured locations and inspire them to come and explore them in the real world,” says Tourism Ireland’s Central Marketing Director Mark Henry.
While all of this does sound like a fun idea, it makes me wonder how big a niche gaming tourism actually is. None of Assassin’s Creed’s previous locations suffered from a tourism shortage before they were featured in-game, or at least none of them reported notable spikes thanks to their inclusion in a game. There are of course lots of Youtube videos of gamers exploring real-life locations for games such as Yakuza, but often the fun lies in coming across something you already know in a game, not the other way around, and millions of people have always enjoyed staring at impressive buildings around the world. The question is whether a gaming tourism campaign can be one of the new ways to get people to travel, now that countries are trying to resurrect tourism following the pandemic.