Advertising in games is something that has been getting a lot of media attention recently. Some reports say that gamers love it, provided things are in context (ads on billboards in a city for example) and, more recently, they say they don’t like it… as mentioned in the report posted on gamesindustry.biz
The audience sampled was only 120 gamers which sounds a little low to me, but the opinion matches those of other gamers I have spoken to about this. My personal opinion is actually the opposite. I am in the “it’s ok as long as it fits” crowd… and this is from someone who doesn’t like advertising in general.
One thing to note with the reports that people like the ads in game is that the surveys are generally performed by companies who run the ads, so naturally they will only publish things that show their services in a positive light.
One of the more blatantly obvious forms of advertisement is the advergame. These are small games, generally run online, that advertise a specific product. At Miniclip (where I work) we occasionally run these adverts for companies wanting to push their latest product. Most recently we have run ads for Superman, Chicken Little, and Pirates of the Caribbean. These games have done incredibly well and are, in my opinion, an excellent way to target the gaming audience.
The idea behind these games is to give people a feeling for the product and make them want to become more involved. In the case of movie ads the games are fairly simple and can be completed fairly quickly with the player being rewarded with some form of promotional media (trailer/ wallpaper etc)
A site that seems to be gaining quite a bit of popularity at the moment is CandyStand. This is a site developed by Wrigleys – the sweet manufacturer. All of the games on the site are totally free, yet feature vast amounts of adverts promoting various sweets from their range. To me this is a bit much but then if the games are free is it right to complain… afterall 95% of Miniclip games are totally free, in return for the ads we run on the site so is this all that different?
It was recently announced that the $4 games sold by Burger King have sold over 2 million copies. People are now paying for adverts (and based on the comments on that page enjoying them too)!
What would you say if the next version of the Sims totally free to download and play. If you could walk into a store and just take the game home? The only catch being that it is full of product placement. Would this be a good thing? Would you like it? Would you still play the game?