There was a time where your breakfast cereal came with Age of Empires or Rollercoaster Tycoon. These days? It’s QR codes for Kellogg’s-branded VR games on Steam.
I got wind of the unusual inclusion via a friend, who told me that their cereal boxes now had “codes for games on Steam now”. Having not heard of any such promotion, I asked for a photo. And lo and behold, Kellogg’s — which famously used to offer CDs for bangers like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Rollercoaster Tycoon, Age of Empires 1 and 2 and Cricket 96 — has gotten back into video game promotions.
Putting aside the idea of marketing a game that requires a headset worth hundreds of dollars on a cereal box which usually costs less than a fiver, the whole adventure is an interesting twist on edutainment. It links to a game on Steam called Kellogg’s Gut Bacteria Reef, which has been live for just over a month.
The whole idea is to teach people about the ecosystem within their guts and intestinal tracts in what looks like a Magic School Bus kind of way. “Let your gut dive instructor take you on an exciting journey inside the human gut, where you can learn all about the types of food and fibre that help healthy gut flora grow,” the Steam description reads.
Shots of the game include what appears to be a box of Sultana Bran in a tube, alongside what looks like monitors showing tasty delights such as streptococcus and staphylococcus, two things I definitely want to think about alongside a bowl of Sultana Bran.
The game was made by a VR/AR studio in Sydney’s Paddington called Nakatomi. They’ve only got one other game listed on Steam — a 2017 adventure about controlling the Kraken — but most of their work appears to be agency-focused, like this autonomous robot orchestra built for an Intel campaign.
If you’ve got a VR kit, Kellogg’s Gut Bacteria Reef is free to download here. It’s not exactly the kind of promotion that has me slamming F5 for a box of Just Right. You’d think with the advent of VR codes and the growth in popularity of video games, using cereal boxes as a distribution mechanism for a Battlefield beta or something like Fortnite skins could be really clever. Or, since we’ve got a new Age of Empires on the way, some codes for that (or Xbox Game Pass on PC) would totally work.