Advertising: It's in the Game…

In-game advertising has been on the cards for a while now. It’s already in place in some titles — remember the Obama billboards in Burnout Paradise? Most recently Sony had to perform a swift about-face when adverts massively (no pun intended!) increased loading times in Wipeout HD. Before adverts become another established feature on the videogame landscape, I thought it’d be interesting to find out what the general consensus was regarding real-world, virtual-world intersections.

In-game advertising last year


In some titles it intuitively seems that advertising, sensitively used, could actually enhance the videogame experience. Playing through a modern day squad-based shooter, for instance, it seems to me that fake advertising could be more jarring than actual, recognisable product adverts. Likewise, there’s no better fit than the hoardings around a soccer pitch; gamers expect the content because it enhances the simulation to have accurate player names, team names, sponsorship, and so on. I can’t think of any title where adverts have been used badly, wrenching you out of the fiction and back to "What the hell is that doing there?" save, perhaps, Sony’s recent Wipeout fiasco (and even those were on the loading screen, outside the game environment). Perhaps you can recall otherwise?


The only other problem I can see with game advertising is the idea that videogames are ‘sacred ground’; that they aren’t subject to the same marketing techniques as TV or movies. Since, historically, games haven’t presented the same opportunities for advertising, so the thinking might go, they should remain forever unsullied by the mucky hands of the advertising company.
Thing is, though, why would developers allow advertising in their games? Do you think they hold the same view as the paying consumer? Well, yes and no. There’s integrity to think about, sure, no one wants their company to be devalued, branded a sell-out. But games companies are about generating income to create great games, to then generate more income to create more great games. In-game advertising, used well, should provide additional revenue, easing the financial burden of the development process. It’s a win on both sides. Does the consumer lose out? I’d argue not, but feel free to disagree…


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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