It’s “Game On” for Jeep Wrangler

By Charles Krome

About 10 years ago, I had an interesting opportunity to drive some expensive metal—an Aston-Martin V8 Vantage, Jaguar XKR, Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG, Corvette ZR-1, etc.—around some of the most challenging tracks in the world. True, the wreckage I left behind likely equalled the GDP of a number of small countries, but the whole experience only set me back about $40, as near as I can remember.

And while I haven’t popped “Gran Turismo” in the ol’ Playstation in quite some time, it was obvious even back then that there was plenty of overlap between gearheads and gamers. Thus, we’ve seen a steady stream of OEMs leveraging video games as advertising opportunities, from running actual in-game ads to licensing virtual versions of their lineups for ever more realistic gameplay. It’s a trend that has now reached its logical conclusion with the recent news that Jeep would take things in the other direction and launch a special edition Wrangler based on a video game.

The “Black Ops” Jeep Wrangler, based on the forthcoming “Call of Duty: Black Ops”  video game, is rumored to be on its way to market in the next couple of months, with November 9—the date the game is to be released—a likely target date for the Jeep’s introduction.

I’m not 100 percent sure, but I believe this will be the first game-based special-edition vehicle from a mainstream automaker to hit the U.S. market, and the “Call of Duty” tie-in is a curious place to start. I mean, with all the driving simulators out there, the Chrysler Group’s decision to partner with a war game seems needlessly risky. While it makes sense in the context of the Jeep’s origins, and the fact that Jeeps are featured extensively in the “Call of Duty” series, and the expectation that the video game will be the biggest entertainment product of the year in terms of sales, “Black Ops” is still going to be a carnage-heavy first-person shooter with a “mature” rating.

Now, on the one hand, I’m confident that the Black Ops edition is going to be a home run for Jeep. Selling a Wrangler that’s been tarted up as a military-spec killing machine is like slapping a pace-car package on a Chevrolet Camaro—it’s going to attract its share of hard-core fans.

But while I’m not the kind of person who thinks playing video games will turn you into a psycho killer, I’m betting Jeep will be in for some serious backlash from those who have a different opinion of things.

Author: Charles Krome

Charles Krome is a long-time automotive journalist who spent more than 10 years on the inside at General Motors and Ford, and also has corporate communications experience with Audi, Porsche and BASF Automotive Refinish. As a big motorsports fan growing up in the Detroit area, Krome was lucky enough to be able to attend numerous NASCAR, Indy car, F1 and SCCA events while still in his formative years. This, combined with a childhood that included significant (passenger) seat time in cars from Lotus and Jensen Healey, made him a car guy at an earlier age. Today, he lives in metro Detroit with his car wife, raising car kids.

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