A short video is gaining viral traction on YouTube and Vimeo that Ad Week is calling one of the best commercials ever created for Microsoft's Xbox. Titled “Player Two,” it is a heartfelt story about a teenager reconnecting with his deceased father over a saved game on the old dusty original Xbox he dug out of the garage one day. To quote a popular saying, this video hits you “right in the feels.” The catch though is that Microsoft had nothing to do with it.
Young filmmaker John Wikstrom decided to make this project as a labor of love. He got the idea for this spec commercial after coming across a string of comments for a YouTube video titled “Can Video Games Be a Spiritual Experience.” In response to the title’s question, one user responded with a short touching story which is the basis for Wikstrom’s video. In fact, the spec advertisement’s voiceover is a word-for-word reading of the YouTube comment.
After being on the web for two weeks, the video has gained 534k views on Vimeo and 870k views on YouTube. As Wikstrom’s ad picked up steam, the folks at AdWeek reached out to Aaron Greenberg, Microsoft’s head of Xbox’s game marketing. Greenberg said to AdWeek:
This is really inspiring. Connecting players through gaming is one of the best rewards of creating video games, and stories like this are always touching and inspire us to do our best work. We applaud this fan's courage in sharing his story and the filmmaker's artistry in bringing it to life so vividly.
Also according to AdWeek, since posting the video the anonymous poster of the story reached out to Wikstrom and thanked him. Wikstrom also speculated as to why his video has been appreciated by so many people, saying “video games aren't usually talked about in the context of positive, meaningful emotions.”
One of the most emotional video game advertisements ever, let alone Xbox ads, was just a labor of love that makes you appreciate the medium of games as more than just a distracting form of entertainment, but a way to connect with others. You can view Player Two on Vimeo or YouTube.