Bunny centerfolds bare all in video game

More than 50 vintage Playboy issues can be browsed in Take Two's upcoming video game, Mafia II.

By InvestorPlace Mar 8, 2010 10:35AM

Playboy (PLA) has struggled to define its brand in the digital age, but may have hit the nail right on the head in its latest partnership with Take Two Interactive (TTWO) -- digitally reprinting classic Playboy issues that are integrated into the game play of the new release "Mafia II."


This is a great move for the Bunny brand, because it naturally opens the door to a slew of new prospective readers.

"Mafia II" is a mature video game title that attempts to recreate the gangland violence in the 1940s and 50s. That involves a period urban setting complete with rich details, from vintage cars to vintage firearms to even vintage Playboy magazines.

The game is set for release this fall for the Microsoft (MSFT) Xbox 360 console, Sony (SNE) PlayStation 3 console and any PC that uses Windows.


The President of 2K Games, a studio run by Take Two, said the partnership was a great way to provide a “sophisticated, era-evoking atmosphere” for the game.

"In partnering with Playboy, we are able to add a unique element of authenticity to the game by using vintage images from the magazine that illustrate the power of Playboy's influence on the attitudes and culture of that generation," said 2K Games president Christoph Hartmann.


You may think that such a racy feature in a violent game would be bad news for Take Two, but keep in mind that this is the brains behind the groundbreaking game series "Grand Theft Auto." That highly profitable series had a hidden sex scene that could be unlocked by users, and resulted in a huge amount of press as a result. The title went on to sell 20 million copies, and remains the best-selling game of all time for the PlayStation 2 console.


Could Playboy’s racy partnership add to the buzz behind "Mafia II?"Possible, but not likely. After all, the first "Mafia" title was released with an M for Mature rating -- the video game version of NC-17 -- so it’s not likely a bunch of sixth-graders will crowd around the TV screen looking at Miss June 1945.

However, such a big name tied to such a small detail that’s unrelated to gameplay may make shoppers feel like Take Two has really worked hard at the little things to put out a great title.





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