Advertising in Computer Games

In-game advertising, for lack of a better word, remains the Holy Grail to countless advertising agencies eager to find a way to reach gamers.

Why gamers? It seems that gamers represent a highly valued demographic, that of 13-39 year old males.

Ever since computer games evolved from green screen pixels into a billion dollar industry, agencies have been trying to bombard gamers with ads in hope that sales would pour in. But what actually happened was a series of failures, from modest mistakes to downright corny debacles.

Order pizza while playing

My favorite example would be ordering a Pizza Hut pizza through an in-game command in Everquest II. Anyone remember this?

In 2005, Sony announced that Everquest II players could order their pizzas through an in-game command by typing /pizza, which would open an online menu. The pizza would be delivered normally, in the real world of course.

Some people claimed it was destined to open up a whole new advertising market, while others laughed at it, labeling it as yet another fad destined for the bad idea graveyard. The service died, of course, without any real reason given. Not that people really cared anyway…

I am pretty sure that Gillette’s most recent attempt will join Pizza Hut’s in-game command ad in the graveyard in due order.

The Sims Online

In-game advertising has its fair share of moderate success, especially in static advertising. These include virtual sideline billboards of FIFA International Soccer, to product placements throughout the game world, like the McDonalds outlet in the now defunct The Sims Online.

Need for Speed

Don’t forget those real life models of cars models (Wish the babe was real too!) in EA’s Need for Speed series and also the various guns used in an assortment of games, notably the Grand Theft Auto series.

Although in-game static advertising like that has been generally well received as it lends credibility to the game world, many in the advertising industry still feel that in-game advertising is still a largely untapped treasure, waiting to be found.

I prefer an unobtrusive relatively ad-free gaming environment, what about you?