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  • Book Excerpt: Game Design Complete: Advergaming and Sponsorships

    [04.06.06]
    - Patrick O'Luanaigh
  • In-Game Logos or Signs

    A more traditional route involves getting a brand logo placed into the game. This is done in sports and racing games using standard advertising techniques just as in the real world, but game designers are starting to get smarter about other ways of using logos and signage. Fortunately, games don't have to copy real-life, and there is no reason why you can't allow the player to tattoo the Nike logo onto the virtual golfer when he's being created at the start of a game.

    In–Game Objects

    Using in-game objects involves the placement of products into the game. These objects could be anything from a bottle of beer to a Mercedes sports car. The idea is that the object is visible and recognizable to the player and the player sees it in a positive light. Ideally for the advertisers, the objects have a constructive use that benefits the player. For example, Pepsi might want its cans and bottles to be available from in-game vending machines to boost the players' health or skill level. From a designer's point of view, objects that add authenticity to an existing game design are good. For example, if you already have a gun in the game, branding it with a Heckler and Koch logo is probably a good thing because it will make the player connect more with the object. Objects that feel out of place and contrived are not good, and I'd encourage you to fight any pressure you receive to use such objects as strongly as you can. If you suspect there is a chance that an average gamer will see a branded object and think, “That's just a blatant advertisement,” then don't use it.

    Music and Audio

    Another underused way of advertising is through sound effects, audio, and music. If your character runs through a shopping mall in the game, for example, you may be happy letting real advertisements play over the PA system. Many games have strong musical sound tracks, and rather than paying large sums of money to license them, you might be able to get a talented new band to appear for free or even pay you to feature their name in the game and play their music to lots of new customers. There are also several examples of music being written specifically for games by well-known musicians or DJs. For example, Paul Oakenfold wrote an original track for a rally game that I worked on recently and has just been signed up exclusively for EA. I've heard that many new artists who are featured in major EA titles have had album sales jump massively, so there is no reason the same effect can't happen in your game.

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