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Advertising in Video Games

By October 23, 2018Misc.3 min read

Last semester, I took an advertising class that discussed the correct target audiences for products and how to advertise them. Our client was Taco Bell, which as you can imagine, was a pretty easy client to figure out their target audience. The stereotypical gamer was going to be our focus point. From there, we learned about a dozen different ways on how to get our ads to our audience. And what better way to get an ad to a gamer, than through a game.

First and foremost, games themselves can be an advertisement. While this isn’t as common now, it was a popular trend during the late 80s/ early 90s. Games would come out alongside movies and promote the release. If good games came out, you were more inclined to go see the movies. And while movie based games now get a bad rap, it’s not unheard of.

One of the most popular genres of games to advertise in is sports games. In-game ads can be programmed into the sidelines of basketball and hockey arenas, to billboards around racetracks, and even onto racecars. With updates being available on newer consoles, it’s easy to rotate ads throughout the game’s life-cycle.

One of the best things, especially to a brand, is that these ads are barely noticeable. Unlike ads on streams, that are before videos and so in your face that it can sometimes hinder the enjoyment of content, ads in games are more of a subconscious effect.  You see them while playing, but you don’t have the immediate thought of wanting to buy what is being advertised. Ads like these have an almost opposite effect, where you associate the game to a product when you see it.

Of course, like most things in gaming, there’s controversy surrounding the topic of ads being in video games. Some players think that ads should stay out of paid games. A few years ago, the Rocket League community discussed the addition of ads for Dell’s Alienware computers. Some think that for a game they paid roughly $20, there shouldn’t be ads. Other think it’s perfectly fine and even alluded to the developers using the ad revenue for future updates to the game.

But the truth is, no matter how much controversy there is, there are still going to be ads. And it’s going to be that way for any form of entertainment. While there is a lot up to the game developers, the placement and choice of ads, a lot of it also falls on the gamers. They have to choose to accept where the industry is heading.

What are your thoughts on advertisements in video games?

Bailey Brown

Bailey is an advertising major, nonprofit studies minor in her third year at the University of Oklahoma. She was given her first gaming device at the age of 9 and hasn't put it down since. She enjoys the exploration and puzzle solving of The Legend of Zelda and claims she can "beat anyone" in Mario Kart or Super Smash Brothers. Follow her on Twitter @MissBaileyKay

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