Monthly Archives: October 2008

Advertising and Gaming

Dunno if you heard of this one, but I thought it was pretty good.

If you’ve played a lot of games, then you know that some of them have advertising in them. Over the years, games have had all sorts of advertising, sometimes fake, sometimes funny, sometimes real stuff. Many years back, I recall participating on usenet in a discussion of the virtual worlds of games, and the subject of in-game-advertising was brought up.

See, up until this point, advertising in games was mostly a static thing. The games didn’t, on the whole, change the ads much. At some point during the discussion, the idea was advanced to the point of changing them dynamically. I mean, these are just big textures, there’s no reason that the game could not detect an internet connection and download new ones on the fly. At the time, this was roundly hailed as preposterous, mainly because “internet” at that time mostly consisted of modems and dialup connections. Large scale multiplayer gaming was relatively new, and home broadband was basically limited to expensive ISDN connections.

Of course, the idea was natural and obvious, but I quit most of my gaming about then, and so I didn’t see how the idea went on and advanced in reality.

Both the Xbox 360 and the PS3 have more or less mandatory internet support. That is to say that while you can certainly use the thing without internet hooked to it, virtually nobody does, because it enables the vast majority of the functionality of the thing. And so, naturally, advertising came in-game on those too.

IGN Worldwide handles almost all of this advertising, from what I can tell. And recently, this got a big story boost, as it affects the elections.

Screenshot of the Obama Ad in Burnout Paradise

Screenshot of the Obama Ad in Burnout Paradise

Burnout Paradise on the Xbox 360 and PS3 have billboards beside the highway that show advertising. On the 360 version at least, from October 6 through November 3th, if you are a player in one of ten “battleground” states, then you’ll be seeing Obama ads in the game.

The ads say that Early Voting has begun as well as pointing to Obama’s Vote For Change website.

NPR’s Morning Edition went on to confirm that the ads will appear in a total of 18 different games in those 10 states only, including Madden NFL and other sports games.

They also mention that the ads are targeted to men 18-34, but I’m not certain if that means that they will only be shown to players fitting that demographic or not. It certainly could be, since if you use those consoles on the internet, then you have an account with demographic information like that.

I find it fascinating that I missed this trend, and I can certainly see how it could be a good thing or a bad thing. I would not personally mind my games having live ads like this, as it would add a sense of realism and up-to-date-ness about them. On the other side of the coin though, I can see a lot of gamers upset by this sort of thing, as some people are simply against ads wherever they may be under any circumstances.

It’s still pretty neat, I say.