Ethics and Law in New Media/Advertising in video games/Business

From Wikiversity
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The business of in-game advertisement[edit]

The business of in-game advertisement refers to the branch of new media business focusing on the sale of commercial and social ads within the video game environments for various platforms as the marketers are seeking out new mediums and the market of annually sold 228 billion games with 8,1 billion USD in revenues, accounting for roughly 3 percent of total media spending seems an ample target group for Advertising Industry,[1]. Another reason for the shift toward the new medium has been the alarming trend indicated by the media consumer studies that the rate of TV viewers has been declining for the past decade while in return the video game usage has grown substantially with 10.2% media usage growth compared to TV at -0.7%, Internet at 7% and Cable/Sat TV at 2.4%.[2] Thus the market eager conglomerates, lead by Microsoft owned Massive Incorporated, are taking the new market by storm. A study carried out in 2007 by Nielsen Media Research revealed that the effects of in-game advertising are tremendous resulting in the growth of Brand Familiarity by 64%, Brand Rating by 37%, Purchase Consideration by 41% and Ad Rating of 69 % that far exceed the average media campaigns using traditional media.[3] In-game advertising is not be confused with advergames. Advergames are complete games dedicated to a brand.

The target audience[edit]

Studies carried out by the US federal government agency CDC indicate that an average video game player is 18-35 years old single male, who is overweight, aggressive, introverted and often depressed, with nearly 12% of them showing multiple signs of addiction. Tendency toward male dominance is fast to change though, as approximately 40 % of gamers today tend to be female and the number is growing. A boosting factor that makes this audience extra appealing for the advertisers is their lack of self-confidence and vulnerability to outside influence as for depressed gamers, playing video games is a type of "digital self-medication," with women more likely to play video games for extended doses of self-distraction trying to literally 'take their minds off' their worries while playing a video game.[4] In response to the CDC report The Entertainment Software Associationreleased a study which detailed the non-gaming lives of your "typical" American gamer claiming that gamers apparently have real lives outside of their game consoles or PCs. The study conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates revealed that computer and video game players regularly volunteer, exercise, and attend religious services, spending more than three times the amount of time exercising or playing sports, volunteering in the community, reading, or engaging in religious, creative, and cultural activities than they do playing video games. In total, gamers spend 23.4 hours per week on these activities, compared to 6.8 hours per week playing games. Avid gamers, those who play games 11 or more hours per week, spend 34.5 hours per week on the activities mentioned above.[5]

Advertising models[edit]

In-game advertisers themselves define that in-game advertising is any influential third party message included to the game to bias the players toward the expected result, commercial or otherwise that appear within a game whether its audio clips playing in the background, billboards appearing in the game environment, items the protagonist may have to collect, cloths to wear and or cars to drive. In a primitive sense it can also be interstitial ads that appear before the game starts.[6]

Static 3D ads[edit]

Billboards are the simplest and so-called first generation forms of in-game advertisements that appeared in the late 1980s, when Marlboro banners were displayed in background of Sega's arcade auto racing games.[7] The use of in-game billboards has been very extensive and largely commercial but last US president elections changed that when Obama suddenly appeared into vast number of video-games claiming that “Early voting has begun”, taking the political battle literally into video-games.[8]

Interactive and product placement ads[edit]

Interactive ads consist largely of product placement to the computer games. Be that cars in Test Drive, Weapons as in GTA and various items of clothing in sport games. For example clothing brands are increasingly looking to the games industry to place their logos on shirts and jeans worn by skaters and snowboarders in games which attract women players. [9] The product placement does not stop there as there are also more creative approaches. For example in Worms 3D characters drinks Red Bull, to get a power up in order to jump higher and in Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow the protagonist has to work out how to use his Sony Ericsson P900 smartphone to progress. The improving quality of hardware and software means hi-res details of logos, buttons and controls can be replicated and even more tremendous solutions can be introduced.

Game origin[edit]

Feature film and trademark franchise[edit]

Since the times of Walt Disney entertainment industry has made successful characters to cross over from one medium to another. Up until recently it meant from novel to feature film and from feature film to a video-game franchise that gives the consumer a possibility to interact with the characters they have fallen in love with on the big screen in the virtual setting similar to the fantasy world seen in the movie. Today no mainstream feature film ships without related web page, forums, collectibles and a video game.[10] Though that trend seems to change as well with Doom, the movie released on 2005 and Halo, the movieto come on 2012. Similarly all major sports leagues have their respectful video games like FIFA Soccer, NBA Live, and NASCAR. Another subcategory here is the one merchandising a sport star like Tiger Woods, Colin McRae, and Mike Tyson. Despite being franchise products themselves, these games also host a tremendous amount of in-game advertisement in billboards, clothing and accessories, largely belonging to the same companies that have the sponsor deal with the respectful league or athlete.

Original content games[edit]

This category includes the unique games like Halo, Duke Nukem and Worms with the original plot, character set and fantasy world that enables far more creative approach to in-game advertisement. Though billboards and 3D textures with marketing messages may appear the loose setting also allows the merchandising through various items, mission objectives, clothing and objects the protagonist has to interact with proving thus far more potential, though more creativity demanding platform for in-game ad sellers.[11]

The future of In-Game Advertising[edit]

While in the past advertisers had to wait a year or more while a video game was developed and their investment was a permanent, one-time buy the contemporary trend of on-line gaming and tradition games having a on-line connection leads to the new era. The potential there is for the in-game ad industry to create ads that can be constantly updated in real-time when ad campaigns change in order to sell ideas as the technology for real-time ad-serving that allows games to show different ads to different people in a time-sensitive manner is becoming available.


Despite the optimism of the Ad and Gaming Industry there are some controversies around the effectiveness of static ads within the video games. A study carried out by Bunnyfoot Inc. revealed that the player is not spending much time looking at ads; in fact, it's all one can do not to run off the road. Among the few brands one remembers when the session is over are Chevrolet, Honda, Lamborghini, and Mazda — the car makes one had to choose from at the test game outset. This proves that on action titles, every gamer is usually too engrossed in the game to pay attention to the ads. [12] Another controversial topic is the ethical aspects of advertising in video games due to psychological vulnerabilities caused by gaming that make the player extra vulnerable to commercial manipulation but that discussion can be followed more toughly here.


  1. Shields, M. (2006)."In-Game Ads Could Reach $2 Bil.". Adweek. Retrieved 11.12.2009
  2. Jogo (2009). “In-Game Advertising” Jogo Inc. Retrieved 11.12.2009
  3. Massive (2009).”Case Studies” Massive Incorporated. Retrieved 11.12.2009
  4. Gaudin, S (2009). “Forget teens, gamers are 35, overweight and sad, CDC says”.Computerworld. Retrieved 11.12.2009
  5. Bryant, P. (2005).” Entertainment Software Association survey shatters "typical" gamer myth” Gaming Age Online Retrieved 11.12.2009
  6. Jogo (2009). “In-Game Advertising” Jogo Inc. Retrieved 11.12.2009
  7. Twist, J. (2004)” Ads in video games set to rise” BBC News Online Retrieved 11.12.2009
  8. Shepherd, S. (2009)”The History of In-Game Advertising”, GAMERLIMIT. Retrieved 11.12.200
  9. Twist, J. (2004)” Ads in video games set to rise” BBC News Online Retrieved 11.12.2009
  10. Wikipedia (2009) “Disney Interactive Media Group” Retrieved 11.12.2009
  11. Rose, F (2007)” Embedding Ads Into Games Seemed Like a Good Idea” Wired Magazine: Issue 15.08 Retrieved 11.12.2009