Posted on July 30, 2007,

Advertisements in Video Games a Dubious Effort


What to Pizza Hut and Everquest II have in common? Absolutely nothing. But I guess you can order pizza while you’re playing if you really want to.

A story in today’s LA Times sheds a bit of light on the situation with advertisers and video games, which has gone from game makers paying companies for their namesakes to appear in their games to the expectation that advertisers will shell out $183 million this year to the same effect. The Yankee Group, a research firm, was referenced in the article as stating that by 2011, advertiser spending in video games will reach more than five times that amount at $1 billion.

But how will gamers react as the practice becomes more and more intrusive into the gaming experience?

“Games should be about game play, not selling products,” Ben Spradlin, a 29-year-old systems analyst from Knoxville, Tenn., said in the article. “It ends up being a big distraction.”

And really, that should be a big issue. Gamers are currently paying an average of $60 per game, so why should we have to deal with in-game advertising? The answer is a tricky effort by both game developers and advertisers to hide the fact that there is advertising in the game, such as including Dole branded bananas in Super Monkey Ball and Nokia brand phones in Tony Hawk’s Project 8.

When you get a game like Madden NFL, it’s pretty easy to place ads in the game, and even heightens the sense of realism, because gamers want the experience to be exactly like what they see on television, or at least very close to it. But gamers will never want to see a Honda Mount which they can get after becoming a level 40 priest.

Hopefully it will never get to the point where you get a situation like that in some theater chains out there which force you to watch commercials before a movie. It’s terrible sitting there, waiting for the film to start, having to see absolutely lame attempts by soda-makers trying to sell sugar to bovine America. It’s been enough to make this author avoid some chains because of the practice.

Obviously, some games are going to push the limit and game developers might be in for some difficult lessons. But if the world of advertisement manages to stay out of the gaming experience, the two might find nice compromise, and advertising may very well push the medium even further by providing yet another source of revenue.

Via LA Times.

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