Nowadays, traditional advertising just isn’t cutting it. Newspapers are being forced to go digital, audio streaming has replaced radio, and video streaming has become the new cable television. With that being said, this transformation wasn’t really a shocker. Technology is progressing at incredible speeds, so it was inevitable that traditional advertising mediums would begin to fade away.
So what is advertising like now?
Basically, any well-known website or social media platform is going to have ads. You’ll find ads on your Instagram feed, before a Youtube video, and even when you are searching for new cooking recipes. But there is one particular platform that advertisers haven’t gone all out on yet, and it’s by no means a small audience. That platform is console video games.
Marketing within video games isn’t new, but for the most part, it only really existed within sports games using product placements. Sports games are an easy win for advertisers, because a simulated sporting event really wouldn’t feel real without the promotion banners, ad rolls, and product sponsors. Due to that, the advertisements don’t have any sort of negative effect on the immersion of the game. Unfortunately, product placement doesn’t exactly translate as well into non sports games. For example, in 2010, the video game Alan Wake was released and was far from short when it came to ads. Players saw constant appearances from Verizon and Energizer throughout the game in many different forms, and for many, it was found to be quite invasive.
Unfortunately, Alan Wake wasn’t the only game to add in distracting ads in their release. Final Fantasy XV, Bionic Commando, Metal Gear Solid, and many more have been added to the list since then.
So what are advertisers trying to pull off now? Well, it’s similar to mobile games. For example, In EA’s UFC 3, you could watch actual commercials for Experian, a credit reporting company, to earn in-game rewards and points.
UFC has also played ads for WarnerMedia for shows like Rick and Morty and Snowpiercer, as well as CPG subscription services like Dollar Shave Club. While consumers may be used to this form of advertising within mobile games, but is this practice too intrusive for a console game?
However, in-game commercials aren’t the only way video game developers are considering introducing advertisers. Sony recently filed for a patent showing potential designs for introducing ad placements within the view of their Playstation VR headset.
These ads would be unavoidable and would become part of what the user sees while gaming. In method (a) you can see that the ad is potentially obtrusive of the users view with its drop down format. Alternatively, method (b) looks as if it places the ads in the peripherals of the headset. With that being said, it is important to keep in mind that this is currently just a patent and, more often than not, these early design patents never become reality. On the contrary, these designs do indicate a need for both marketers and consumers to prepare for and understand the gaming audience and how to effectively target them without inherently disturbing them.
Overall, advertisements are most likely to become more and more integrated into technology and anything relative to the internet. The hard part is about finding the balance between ensuring the ads are efficient without ruining the user experience. Personally, I think it is okay as long as it does not prevent users from accessing any content if they choose not to watch the ads, but I can’t speak for everyone. What do you think about the video game advertisement methods I shared above? Should advertisers even try to push into the video game industry? Share your thoughts below!