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  • Book Excerpt: Game Design Complete: Advergaming and Sponsorships

    [04.06.06]
    - Patrick O'Luanaigh
  • Blatant Advertisements

    You may decide to have proper advertisements in the game while the game is performing functions such as loading screens. You could also play video commercials on the walls in the game. Some online games have advertisements taking up part of the screen in the “chat foyer” when players are waiting for new games to begin. If you think you can get away with it and it won't annoy players, this kind of advertising is something you might want to consider.

    Other Games

    It's amazing how rarely publishers use their games to cross-promote other games. I believe that as our industry continues to get more professional, more and more titles will include trailers for forthcoming games and hopefully playable demos as well. By having a “trailers” section in the front end, it's fairly simple to promote other games that you are developing and help develop some hype. You need to be careful to stick within the guidelines of the console manufacturers (which includes not advertising Microsoft games on a Sony game and vice versa). Some publishers bundle in a second disc, which is a standard promotional DVD of their lineup. But it's easier and cheaper to include the trailers on the game disc if you can do so. If you have a realistic game world, why not include poster advertisements for your other titles rather than making up fantasy advertising?

    Online Updates

    One interesting aspect that has come about due to the rise in online-enabled consoles is the ability to download new content from a central server. In terms of in-game advertising, this offers fantastic possibilities. Say your game sells a million copies. That's a million people who will be playing the game at various points over the next two months (or probably more, since some people will share a copy). Assume the game lasts 10 hours—that's 10 million man-hours of advertising potential. With the facility to download advertising from a server, you can keep the in-game advertising fresh and attract multiple companies and brands. In a racing game, for example, the player can come back to a track to find that the billboards have changed. The sponsor on the loading screen can alternate each time the player starts up the game. And this also introduces the ability to show advertisements within certain time slots. If a TV company wanted to promote a particular show, there is no reason that anyone playing the game within a couple of hours of the start time couldn't be shown an advertisement somewhere (maybe just in the front end or on an in-game banner) that tells them the show will be commencing shortly.

    Of course, I'm not suggesting that you should consider destroying your carefully created feeling of immersion by peppering your gameplay with real-world advertisements. But there are certain types of games that aren't about creating immersion and telling a story. One example would be sports and racing games. By considering the power and flexibility that online advertising updates offer you, it's possible to earn quite a bit of revenue that you can then spend on making your game even better.

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