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  • Book Excerpt: Game Design Complete: Advergaming and Sponsorships

    - Patrick O'Luanaigh
  • Techniques for In-Game Advertising

    There are many different ways to advertise brands in video games. Some are subtle and some are more obvious. Let's look at a few paths that are becoming increasingly well trodden. Often, games will use a combination of these techniques to keep a good balance between gameplay and broadcasting marketing messages.

    Reality Check : The online game EverQuest II allows players to order a pizza in-game from Pizza Hut, and Pizza Hut will deliver it to your door (see Figure 11.4)! Press a certain key and a special pizza menu pops up in the game. Here you can select what you want, key in your address, and get it delivered within 45 minutes. Now that's in-game advertising! This approach worked so well, even though it was a very obvious advertisement, because it was so unique that it generated a lot of extra “word of mouth” attention from players of the game.

    Figure 11.4 Everquest II Pizza Hunt advertisement.

    To start, you'll want to review the various advertising opportunities listed in Table 11.1. Here I've compiled the types of advertising that are used for various categories of games.

    Table 11.1 Some in-game advertising opportunities.
    Game Type Opportunity Description
    On-screen timer Brand the on-screen timer with a real-life clock/timing company as they do in athletics coverage on television.
    Any In-game item Use a real-life product as an item in the game, perhaps a drink can, a pair of trainers you can buy, a mobile phone, and so on.
    Any In-game audio Announce a new product on a PA system or in-game TV.
    Any Loading screen Feature the company or brand on all the loading screens somewhere.
    Stadium/sponsorship Have the brand or company name as the name of a stadium, or in a management game, use the brand or company as an in- game sponsor.
    Car/vehicle customization Place a company's logo onto cars in the game, and allow the player to use the logo as a decal.
    Character games Customizable character Have a company's logo on the character's clothing or as a decal that can be applied as a tattoo.
    Any Storyline/plot Include the company/brand in your storyline; in a similar way that FedEx was included in the story of the film Castaway.
    Reward screen/medal Have the company sponsor the reward screen ceremony or the podium that the winning athletes stand on.
    FPS Watch Have a watch company sponsor the watch that your in-game character wears. In an FPS, the watch should be visible a great deal of the time.
    Any Compass/map If your game uses an in-game map or com- pass, why not get a real-life mapping com- pany or compass manufacture tied in, with a small logo on them?
    Any FMV/cut scenes Place companies' products subtly into your FMV sequences or cut scenes.
    Any In-game pickup Advertisers love this; picking up their product in the game has a positive effect on the gameplay. Not a very subtle example, but say if your character is getting tired, finding some Jolt cola could help keep them awake.
    Any Locations If a particular building is likely to attract visitors, why not get them to pay to be in the game? For example, you could set a level of your stealth game in the Natural History Museum in London at night and lots of young gamers globally will be made intimately aware of the museum.
    Adventure Reference If your adventure game features any kind of reference section (where the player can go to look up facts), why not base this on a real-life reference book?
    Any Tutorials Include a real-life person or company in your tutorial section so they are helping train the player.
    Vehicles Include a particular vehicle in the game, and use it in a cool way. Tomb Raider: Legend has a tie-in with Jeep that works in this way.
    Any Building frontages If your character or car is moving through a city, you can make it feel realistic while generating revenue by getting sponsors on board—banks, fast food establishments, gas stations, and so on.
    Billboards Most racing games can get away with advertising billboards and signs, just as in real- life races. The same goes for sports games, especially those that take place in stadiums. So why not fill these up with real brands?


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