Getting in the Game?

Greeting again from sunny (during the day, it’s 1 a.m. as I write this) Disney World. It’ll be a few days later when y’all read this, but I’m getting the thought down now before I forget them and will have them up and running back when I get to ABQ and have reliable wireless again.

(Can you believe that after paying a bucket of cash, Disney still charges for Internet access? They have a good thing going here and know not to kill it.)

While the above paragraph sounded like some random ramblings, it makes the point I wanted to make in today’s piece. This idea of putting a message up when you want to, and allowing people to see it in their own time frame. And the medium I want to talk about today is the idea of advertising in video games.

Video game advertising? Really? Are people going to want to see this?

“Want?” Probably not. But advertising is already more and more prevalent in the video game world.  It probably started with the Madden NFL franchise (as many things in the video game world do) promoting various products with the “announcers” in the game (all real NFL Network and NBC talent). The “Old Spice Red Zone Report” when either team is within the 20-yard line (known in football as the “Red Zone,” which is also an Old Spice brand of deodorant I believe), or “this game is brought to you by EA Sports” mentioned at various times throughout the game, or the recreation of advertising actually located in each team’s stadium.

If football’s not your thing, the new “Need For Speed” allows for billboard advertising by companies or organizations that you can target to selected times and places. One organization that took advantage of this to a great benefit was Barack Obama for President. They were able to target ads for gamers in selected battleground states. Even if they did not notice the ads right away, or at all, they were still in the background adding to the subliminal message to vote for (or have more positive feelings for) President Obama.

As games and platforms continue to advance, you can expect to see game companies allow for advertising in their games. Think about it, you could place an ad for your organization on a bulletin board read by players in the upcoming Fable 3 game, or on a TV screen in the new Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.  And of course in any game which XBOX Live players can download (or even on the online games page itself).  Some platforms might even work out deals for players on their platform to get cheaper games if there is advertising allowed in the game, or might charge more to allow players to get “premium games” free of advertising.

It’s all up to you or your organization to think of new and creative ways to tap into this growing market. How would you like to present a consistent message to your audience in this medium? Would you even try to present more than a few seconds of a message? Would this be a great way to target a message to a potential audience in a selected location? – Probably, because you can selected which parts of the country these messages would go to, and they would be available to an audience that might TIVO ads away, if they even watch TV on a TV set, but can later get the message from their video game, still reading the message, only in their own time frame. (I would think that this would be a great way for a university to reach potential students.)

Then of course there are some opportunities for video game makers to offer games for a little higher price if they come with a “No Advertising” guarantee.