This is a topic I have been meaning to write about for a while. As revenue models are changing throughout all industries, in particular, the video game industry seems to be very successful at finding new ways to generate the dough. The rise of DLC and microtransactions signals that companies are aware that no longer does the opportunity for increased revenue stop when a a product goes gold and is shipped out. Similarly, with the surge in popularity of online gaming on consoles, it has become easy for a company to release new content for purchase (and even easier for consumers to download).
While I am torn in my feelings on “DLC” and “microtransactions” (from a business perspective, it is genius.. from a consumer perspective, why should I pay for something that should have been included in the original game or released for free in a patch), one form of revenue that I am not opposed to is in-game advertising. Sure, if I am playing Fallout 3, I might not want to see a blown-up “Pepsi” machine as I am trying to take down some Super Mutants in the D.C. area. But in-game advertising is effective in other genres, and in particular, in sports video games.
Do I mind seeing a replay in Madden brought to me by “Subway $5 footlongs” (mmm. Subway…I digress). Absolutely not! If I were watching an NFL game on TV, I would be expecting to see sponsors everywhere. On billboards, on the field signage, before commercial breaks.. hell, I wouldn’t be shocked if Mr. Ocho Cinco himself chomped down on a footlong after scoring a touchdown (if he ever gets into the endzone again).. the point is advertising is everywhere in professional sports. The fact that it is now included in sports video games only makes the sports video gaming experience that much more authentic.
If I am playing Fifa, I love seeing signage along the borders of the field. Similarly, seeing “NBA – Where Amazing Happens” along the benches of players in NBA 2K9 (shout out to NBA Creative Services!) is nothing short of the experience I expect from watching the game on television or attending it live. In-game advertising just works. In addition, it is a great way for sponsors to become aligned both with sports brands and video game brands. See, everybody wins!
As much as President Obama (don’t worry, I am not going to get political.. although one of my life goals is to get into a pickup game with the Presidential baller) continually tells parents to “have children put down the video games”, even he recognized the potential in in-game advertising. If you played Burnout Paradise during Obama’s campaign, you probably sped down the highway and caught a glimpse of Barack on a billboard or two.
So, in conclusion… keep the ads coming. They are effective in many ways. And now I am going to go grab some Subway (rough economy, $5 is a great deal).