Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Let the Games Begin!

As a child, my parents never let my brother and I own a Nintendo, GameCube, or XBox. They felt that video games would take up too much of our time or would be too violent, controversial, or a fake representation of reality. I never minded, I guess. Therefore, I know nothing about video games - absolutely nothing. I also know nothing about online video games, because they never really striked my interest. I have always used online technology for email and news, not video games. So, when MediaPost sent me an article about product placement in video games, I was shocked to see its large presence in the games. In fact, product placement is sweeping into the video games industry at some of the fastest rates ever.

As traditional advertising has become outdated, companies are trying to market products in new, innovative ways. This is where product placement comes into action. The video game industry is rapidly growing in consumer use. For example, according to the article above, the popular online action game Counter-Strike "generates more than 5 billion player minutes a month, compared to 4.8 billion for a U.S. TV show." This is a fantastic opportunity for a company to invest some advertising dollars here and place their products in the games for players to use and see. The article states that companies are, more than ever, taking part in "integrated, interactive product placements, where a product can be used as an integral part of the game play." In turn, it can eventually lead to a real-life purchase.

After reading the above article, I decided to Google "product placement and video games" out of curiosity. Over 3 million hits came up on my computer!! A huge number!! I guess product placement in video games is more evident than I thought it was. This article I found at msnbc.com shows that this is so. It stated that today, there are 132 million teen and adult gamers in the country. That is a very large audience, much larger than many other mass media outlets. Obviously, marketers see this and have spent $56 million on in-game advertising and product placement last year. It is also projected that spending will reach $730 million by 2010! I cannot even believe it - that is almost an 800% increase! Putting these facts together, "a videogame ad or placement costs $30 per 1,000 people reached." Sounds like quite the investment!

So who are some of the big names that are playing this product placement game? There are so many, that they cannot all be listed. Here are some of the well-known companies involved:
  • Apple - Graffiti artists in Atari's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure can listen to their iPod while tagging walls with Montana Gold spray paint.

  • Procter & Gamble - In Danica's Secret 500 Challenge, a game sponsored by P&G, gamers create characters that compete on the track. The game combines the athlete of Danica Patrick, a female Indy 500 star, and Procter and Gamble's deodorant line.

  • Visa - In CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder, a crime-solving game, Visa's fraud-protection service "alerts players to a stolen credit card that helps gamers crack a murder case."

  • Sony - In Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow , players use Sony Ericsson phones to find clues to catch terrorist suspects.

  • Toyota - In Whyville, an online game for teenagers, users can visit Toyota's Club Scion to decorate their cars with everything from colors to wings to self-made bumper stickers.

Visit this slideshow on Forbes.com to see some more product placements in popular video games. They are everywhere!!!

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