For the first 20 or so years of the computer industry, one of the main ways software gaming companies advertised their projects was through full page advertisements in software magazines. Some of the more famous of these were Softline and Computer Gaming World (CGW), and fortunately thanks to the Computer Gaming World Museum, a nearly complete catalog of these publications can be found. Origin Systems purchased rights to the back page of CGW for over a decade, and a number of beautiful full page Ultima advertisements were released. As well, magazines like Nintendo Power and foreign language publications also ran advertisements by Origin Sytems.
Here for your viewing pleasure are a number of these full page advertisements.
Personally, I love the quirkiness of the NES Power advertisements, especially Ultima III for the NES, where it claims to be the first real roleplaying game for the system. The Ultima I/II 2-page advertisement shows just how big some of these old ads were. The Ultima V advertisement is notable for its use of unique artwork, and Ultima VII really stresses the technical merits of the new entry into the Ultima series. The Ultima IX ads I think are the lowest in quality, telling little about the game, and they stress the importance of combat, while completely ignoring any technical or plot elements about the game.
The First Age of Update: That Origin Systems had a quirky sense of humour has never been in any doubt, but the “Hannibal” advertisment they drew up to promote Ultima 7 (visible above) might just take the cake.
Origin historian Pix obtained an early proof of it from I know not where, and has posted a scan of it online, along with some observations:
It was ultimately used on the back cover of Computer Gaming World and presumably other magazines at the time with an alternative all black advert following on some time later.
The proof is marked bad on the front of the envelope which usually means some of the colour separation isn’t correct going on those I’ve seen before. The negatives for all these adverts come in four plates (3 colour + 1 black) which clearly gave scope for things to go wrong if something was left off of one layer. In this case the animal behind the T of Today is far darker than in the final version…
…which is visible above, and which has now been joined by its earlier version.