Game loading: Tourism chiefs digital collaboration shows Ireland to the world

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla expansion set in Viking Ireland aims to bring visitors to country

The Wrath of the Druids expansion for the existing Assasin’s Creed game allows players to explore real life locations in Viking era Ireland. Photograph: Ubisoft

The Wrath of the Druids expansion for the existing Assasin’s Creed game allows players to explore real life locations in Viking era Ireland. Photograph: Ubisoft

 

A snap decision by Irish tourism chiefs to team up with a band of deadly assassins from Valhalla has already seen the eyeballs of 50,000 would-be fighters fall on some epic scenes unfolding across an ancient Irish countryside.

Tourism Ireland is quietly delighted with the reception its decision to collaborate with the makers of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla for its new expansion to the game, Wrath of the Druids.

By joining forces with the wildly popular game, which has more than 150 million devotees, as its maker brought the spin-off to Ireland, and reaching out to gaming influencers in France, Germany, the UK and the Nordic countries, the tourism authority hopes to promote Ireland as a travel destination to about 250,000 gamers all over the world.

Wrath of the Druids features a vividly re-created Ireland, with famous landmarks such as the Giant’s Causeway, Benbulbin and the Hill of Tara starring alongside the assassins. Playing as Eivor, the fierce leader of a Viking clan, gamers must make their way through Ireland’s haunted forests and stunning backdrops while gaining influence among Gaelic kings.

Ubisoft, which makes the Assassin’s Creed series, had developed the game before Tourism Ireland sought to piggyback on it as a less-than-traditional vehicle to promote Ireland among a highly engaged audience.

The Tourism Ireland campaign is the first time the organisation has worked with a popular gaming creator who have a strong following on Twitch, a live-streaming platform mainly used by gamers.

The content creators are showcasing the otherworldly landscapes, rich culture and folklore of Ireland – which feature in Wrath of the Druids – to their hundreds of thousands of followers. The aim is to highlight those landscapes to gaming communities – and encourage them to come and discover them for themselves.

The campaign also includes a video featuring gameplay footage from Wrath of the Druids combined with footage of the real-life locations which feature in the game.

“We didn’t have anything to do with the game, but when they started promoting the fact that the game was coming to Ireland at the end of last year we approached them to see about a collaboration,” said Tourism Ireland marketing director Mark Henry.

The aim is to “spike players’ curiosity about the featured locations and inspire them to come and explore them in the real world”.

He pointed to the importance of Game of Thrones tourism to Northern Ireland over recent years. “Around one in six people who visited Northern Ireland in 2018 said that television programme had influenced their decision to come.”