After 20 Years, the US Army Is Shutting Down Its Recruitment Video Game, 'America's Army'
Saturday February 12, 2022. 12:00 AM , from Slashdot
In the early 2000s, the U.S. Army released America's Army, a video game meant as a recruitment tool. 'The free-to-play tactical shooter was wildly successful, reaching 20 million players,' reports Fast Company. 'But come May 5, the servers will be shut down -- and America's Army will surrender to the forces of time.' From the report: To date, no industry has embraced games as warmly as the military, though. America's Army, for example, started with an initial budget of $7 million of your tax dollars at play -- and quickly grew from there. Recognizing that players know a quality title when they see one (and ignore and ridicule poor-quality efforts), it assembled a team of proven developers and bought a license for the Unreal Engine, which was (and remains) one of the premier game engines on the market. America's Army was only supposed to be a seven-year project, but its success encouraged the Defense Department to stay with the game, with the Pentagon spending more than $3 million a year to evolve and promote it -- a drop in the bucket compared to the overall $8 billion recruiting budget.
How well did it work? A 2008 study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that '30% of all Americans ages 16 to 24 had a more positive impression of the Army because of the game and, even more amazingly, the game had more impact on recruits than all other forms of Army advertising combined.' The end of America's Army is hardly the end of the military's use of games as recruiting tools. The Army has its own Twitch channel (with more than 23,000 followers) and has an e-sports team that competes at tournaments -- with recruiters in tow.
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