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.

0 thoughts on “Advertising and Gaming”

  1. In other breaking news, John McCain has adapted to new technology, and is sending out his message on the HAM and Shortwave Marconi systems.

  2. Otto. I am a little surprised when technology occurs and you are not in the loop; you’ve rattled
    my foundation of the natural order of things.

    AT Mike- Love LOVE your comment, made me laugh out loud. Thanks!

  3. If you have played any of the latest EA games, you are pretty much required to have an internet connection, as without one you don’t get a soundtrack (internet radio station), and all in game challenges set by other players (half the fun in Tiger 09!) will be missing too!

  4. (If Jeffro’s show wasn’t so long I’d have more transcribed by now. *grin*)

    I think this relates to links from’s theme repository back to sites that provide, primarily or secondarily, themes that are “premium” or “proprietary” or “commercial” … using a GPL community to hook into commercial activity. In effect, gaming an OpenSource project.

    Quite coincidentally while snooping RSS parsing (I got /nuthin’/ done this afternoon!) I came across these 2 by Duncan Riley. I don’t like his tone, but he’s not so over the top that his points get blown away:
    More Hypocrisy from Mullenweg and WordPress with new themes jihad
    How Grey Is Your Valley: Making Money From Open Source” (good comments by Matt here)

    I think I put it quite well in chat, but neither Jeffro or Matt got what I meant: I think it matters if I follow a link from the repository to a free theme and don’t have a pitch pushed in my face. If that’s so, then I don’t care if there are “proprietary” themes on the site. At least I didn’t get fished in.


  5. naw… I’ve got to disagree on the ‘liking’ part. Mostly on ‘principal’ grounds, not that anyone accuses me of having principals to start with.

    A person pays a rather high price for a game and service. I’m not one of those hippy types to debate profit margins or whatnot, but realistically we can agree these games arent cheap. And seeing product placement isnt new – like speed demon racing games with energy drink advirts (Wipeout and redbull) or those modern-era combat games showing a hilariously sarcastic tattered billboard ad for UN peace programs. Dive Belize or Ski-Doo adverts in watersports games.

    But actual political advirts? No, no… thats just going too far. Redbull is one thing…it ads flavor to the game. Blowing up a Starbucks in urban warfare almost seems a natural. But paying a lot of money to have political adverts?

    The huge difference is that political ads are NEVER straightforward accurate and have only 3 responses… none, agree, disagree. Thats an instant (potential) 30% of people that payed for the game are gonna get pissed at seeing it.

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