So most gamers hate the idea of advertising in games. Me, I’m okay with it, if it fits into the game without me noticing. I’d be upset if I saw a Pepsi banner flying from a flagpole in Guild Wars. It doesn’t fit. If I happened to pass by one of the floating animated billboards in EVE Online sporting a Pepsi ad, I don’t think it’d bother me. Especially if the ad was done in a way to “fit” into the world of EVE. You know, a futuristic looking font spelling out “Pepsi: The choice of the Minmatar generation.” I think I’d be okay with that.
After reading this Business Week article (ignore the mostly irrelevant title), it looks like I’m not alone:
In American Wasteland, from gamemaker Activision Inc., for example, Jeep learned that all players were shown the 3-D vehicles an average of 23 times in 20 minutes. And 96% of those who recalled seeing the Jeep felt the vehicles fit well in the game. Feedback even more welcome to Jeep: 51% of American Wasteland players, including some not yet driving, said they would recommend Jeep to a friend, and 65% would consider eventually buying one.
I’m no marketer, but you don’t have to be to interpret those kind of numbers. American Wasteland needs cars in the street. There’s nothing wrong with making them realistic looking Jeeps (full disclosure – I own a Jeep and love it). In this case, it fits. The Jeep isn’t out of place.
Here’s the rub I have — if Jeep is going to pay to have its products placed in a game, that effectively increases the budget of the developer and publisher of the game. Simple mathematics would mean that the game would cost less to produce, a savings that could be passed on to the customer. They could even give us a choice – pay $39.99 for the ad-supported version of the game or $49.99 for the “pure” version. I don’t think anyone would have a problem with that. I know I wouldn’t.
Of course, this won’t happen. But I am ever the optimist.