Sorry, but you aren’t getting into this party without Minecraft Crocs on. It’s just fashion, baby! Or at least, these partnerships thought it was. Gaming brand deals can be an odd place, and this year saw multiple weird gaming collabs dredged half-formed from the minds of marketing execs and sent out into the wilds to claw at consumer wallets. From confusing chicken combos to tea at the press of a button, these were the strangest gaming collabs that tried to take our money in 2023.
5. PUBG x KFC
First come, first served was an unusual event title to pick for a game that’s all about finishing last. But then again, everything about this PUBG and Kentucky Fried Chicken collaboration was a little undercooked. The promo – presumably concocted based solely on the game’s “Winner, winner, chicken dinner” victory line – saw multiple KFC restaurants pop up in glaring fashion across the map, encouraging players to race there and be the first to interact with the counter.
Share a photo on social media, and you could claim, er, a KFC Chicken Bucket Spray. Essential gear for battle royale survival, we’re sure you’ll agree. The update also saw in-game healing items replaced with KFC branding. That included a KFC bucket replacing the first-aid kit, and the game’s energy drink swapped our for the dubiously named “KFC Drink.” We’re good with water, thanks.
4. Honkai: Star Rail x Miss Millie’s Awesome Chicken
Oh, did you think this year’s chicken-based collaborations were done? Sorry, but PUBG’s wasn’t even the strangest. Attempting to promote this year’s new release Honkai: Star Rail in the UK, developer miHoYo made the baffling decision to partner with fried chicken supplier Miss Millie’s Awesome Chicken. Head to one of the participating restaurants and you could enjoy a tie-in meal and obtain in-game rewards. Turn up in cosplay and you’d even score yourself a 10% discount!
There was just one problem: Even if you live in the UK, you’ve probably never heard of Miss Millie’s. Located almost exclusively in the southwest city of Bristol, the fast food chain is far from a UK household name. For most people, reaching one of these Honkai hotspots would require several hours of travel and, based on the UK’s floundering rail network, probably close to £100 as well. To the Miss Millie’s marketing agent that managed to smooth talk this deal into reality, we can only say bravo.
3. Stumble Guys x SpongeBob SquarePants/Monopoly/Smurfs
When obstacle-course-based battle royale Fall Guys erupted onto the scene in August 2020, Stumble Guys was one of the first to unashamedly ape it. Released on the Google Play store just a month after Fall Guys’ launch, Stumble Guys featured a near identical premise, with images and promotional art suspiciously similar to Mediatonic’s overnight hit.
What no doubt began as a swift cash grab, however, has since developed into an enormous, ongoing title. This year saw the awkwardly named copycat secure licensed partnerships to rival that of its inspiration. Monopoly, The Smurfs, Mr Beast, and SpongeBob SquarePants all joined the mix, and the game recently entered open beta on Xbox. At this point, we can only assume that Stumble Guys itself has spawned several badly translated copycats. Any day now, Tripping Fellows will rise up to muscle its way into the marketing spotlight.
2. Minecraft x Crocs
Crocs is a footwear brand that famously inspires one of two reactions: Revulsion from regular people, or a malicious grin from those eager to buck traditional concepts of style, beauty, and grace. You know who you are. This year’s official Minecraft collaboration also managed to add practically to the list of things Croc-lovers can reject. Buyers were encouraged to stick 3D blocks and shapes onto their shoes to make them as unwieldy and snag-prone as possible.
Pick up a gaudy green pair of Minecraft Crocs and you’d get more than just support for your soles. Owners could scan the Creeper faces on the sides of them to access a couple of small spin-off mobile games called Crocs Creator and Crocs Crossing. There’s also the option to download a pair of Crocs within Minecraft for free. Just in case you want to deal your in-game fashion sense the same level of damage.
1. Yorkshire Tea x PlayStation/Xbox controllers
2023 saved its greatest gaming collab until the dying days of November. We were just about ready to start winding down for the year when Yorkshire Tea, one of the UK’s biggest suppliers of the nation’s favorite drink, decided to drop official PlayStation 5 and Xbox controllers. Sporting green fields, bold red, and the company logo, the POPeArt designs were genuine controllers available for purchase. Unfortunately, at £150 they’d also set you back more than a year’s supply of the tea itself.
Presumably having put the idea out there as a joke, Yorkshire Tea certainly wasn’t ready for the level of demand that ensued. Caffeine-addicted Brits flooded the website, temporarily taking it offline. Those still hankering for the perfect controller to hold beside a brew should note that while the PS5 version is sold out, the Xbox Yorkshire Tea controller is still available at the time of writing.
We couldn’t include a list of 2023 gaming collabs without giving a shoutout to our own, too! This year’s HX3D official partnerships include a new MapleStory keycap collection that can add a slime or omok pieces to your keyboard! We also teamed up with Call of Duty to become the official peripherals partner. Check out the HyperX Call of Duty hub for the gaming gear and tips to take you to success in Modern Warfare III here.