Saturday, August 2, 2008

Advertising in the Game Industry (07/07/08, another old rant I forgot to post)

Recently it was announced that Sony had signed a deal with major global advertising company IGA Worldwide that would lead to advertising being increasingly seen in Playstation 3 games, this has led to opposition by fat pimply blokes in their mum’s basements groaning that this will over-commercialise the gaming industry.

You know what? It might actually be a good thing.

As an avid gamer myself (which I am not ashamed whatsoever to admit) I have noticed advertising in games: Axe deodorant in the Burnout series always comes to mind. My point is that it is not a new thing. Advertising is such an important part of our culture whether punters like to admit it or not. Seriously, on your commute to Uni or work sitting at a bus stop, behind a bus in traffic or listening to the radio consumers (i.e. you, me and Dupree over there) are constantly exposed to soul-less yuppies from marketing departments trying to shove this new product down our throats to be happy, popular consumers.

Also with money from advertising companies going to the development teams behind games it could result in better quality game play because of advertising funds going towards pushing the PS3 further graphically etc, not to mention cheaper retail prices.

To be honest increased in-game advertising may in fact be a fairly entertaining thing. Think about it. You just screwed up that final turn on Gran Turismo and you want to take your anger out on something in-game. Sit at the finish line and wait for that pesky Powerade-sponsored car to complete its victory lap and do a spectacular head-on with it and send it skidding into the wall. In fact why not do the next race as an unofficial destruction derby ramming into the more soul-less sponsored cars on the track “Take that Coke, and that Maccas ya golden-arched bastard!”.

Also imagine it in FPS games. You’re in a post-apocalyptic city with zombies roaming the place looking to get blown up by your shotgun. You turn a corner and there’s a dirty blood stained advertisement for Burger King. Now this can be taken in two ways: Firstly it can tempt you into some late night drive-thru munchies at BK for that new meaty-mc-man-stein burger which those lovely bikini-clad ladies were eating. Orrrr it could have an opposite effect: one could see it as that with an increase in advertising in this futuristic cityscape has driven a scientist mad enough to ‘accidently’ release a virus to plague the city. Plus when you send a shotgun shell into a zombie’s head its guts nicely adorn the advertisement giving the BK crown some nice zombie guts shading.

Though I have got to say that while ‘dynamic’ in-game advertising could be a surprisingly entertaining thing it could also turn sour easily. For example if they somehow work into the script of a game “Yo Tommy hit me up with that Coke” I’d be kind of annoyed because it’s no longer somewhat subtle like advertising should be. Marketing puppets in my opinion are comparable to flies. They’re annoying as fuck in numbers but they serve their purpose in the natural swing of things.

It’s going to be interesting to see how this ‘dynamic’ advertising in PS3 games will affect the gaming industry but so long as the mad scientist’s virus isn’t released to wipe out society’s marketing departments I think we’ll be okay.

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