GDC '08: 'Advergames' on the rise

Advertising-in-games guru says developers should expect more big companies to get on the advergames bandwagon.

If you're the type who hates the increasing amount of advertising within video games--and in particular entire "advergames" such as the Burger King series--then David J Edery, Microsoft's worldwide games portfolio manager for Xbox Live, has some bad news for you: It's going to get a lot worse.

Edery--who is also the author of the upcoming book For Fun and Profit: How Video Games Are Transforming the Business World (a book neither paid for nor endorsed by Microsoft)--says the success of games such as Sneak King for fast-food joint Burger King means more big-name corporations will jump on the advergames bandwagon. Edery was speaking today at GDC at a session titled Advertising and Games: Opportunities, Pitfalls, and Competition.

"Burger King sold 3.2 million copies [of their advergame series]. I think game developers and publishers need to be aware that this is only going to get bigger," he said. "Imagine McDonald's thinking about this. So now you're talking about an advertiser who's willing to sell a game for $4, and spending the same amount of money on development as some of our industry's AAA titles. It's a little scary."

As for advertising within other games, Edery says gamers are becoming more savvy and will more often have negative feelings toward any products or services featured in overt in-game advertisements that they notice. The solution for prospective advertisers, Emery says, is to eliminate recognition; in other words, advertise in games in a way that gamers won't notice. This means fitting into that particular gameworld seamlessly and in as natural a way as possible.

"[Advertisers] have to resist the temptation to stand out in unnatural ways," he said. "For example, don't fill a game city with billboards for a single brand, or don't put current ads in futuristic games."

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Discussion

54 comments
kono11
kono11

Yup, this is getting ridiculous. But that's very good when there's advertising on games. Ya, teh seller will do anything to get their porduct sold. Imagine if GTAIV has coca-cola that can refresh your health and stamina, andAnd remember the Ferrari Challenge. I think it "advertise" Pirelli tires. So, advergaming 's OK, if the way's good.

greater_bird
greater_bird

I don't mind if companies pay to create games that advertise their own brand, like the Burger King ones. Okay, such games are usually really bad, but you know exactly what you're getting - a game that exists to promote its brand. The teeth-grinding branding, for me, is when you're innundated with car ads, drink ads, etc in a game that has no connection with those topics. And save me from the day when my half-elf archer finds an ad for a Zune on the town notice board... shudder...

necronaux
necronaux

It's bad enough corporations have taken over sports arenas, but now they have their sights on game franchises. Just imagine: McDonald's Halo; KFC Final Fantasy; Depends Devil May Cry; Viagra Virtu-Fighter 6… If it lead to lower game prices, some in-game advertising may be tolerable, but I can’t see it happening.

thaobserva6160
thaobserva6160

I never knew those Burger King games were so popular... If there were advertisements on billboards in a virtual city or other things that fit into the game seamlessly and don't annoy/distract the player, then that's all fine & dandy.

Erebus
Erebus

McDiculous. You just made my night. If they make Grand Theft Hamburgler IV on a 30 million dollar budget and sell it for $4, a rift will open on Earth leading to Darwin IV where Zeebamus' will gnaw off our faces while preaching their gospel. In other words, only then would I pay attention.

PumpkinBoogie
PumpkinBoogie

"This is McRidiculous" LOL....frankly HellaStoned it's not only that, but McCreepy. Hell, I remeber when that BK one came out a few years back and thinking "nobody's gonna really take this s*** serious?", but when I heard BK was sellin' these things like hotcakes---that's when it really hit me how low video gaming and advertisment had actually become....and to think, it's getting worse?? Damn, if that creepy-ass BK King dude ain't even the worse of things to come then I'm terrifed to think of what IS......*shudders*

living_wmd_888
living_wmd_888

Ripoff! It's bad enough we have to have ads we can't remove splashed all over eveything, but goddamn if I'm going to PAY for someone else's advertising! F@ck that!

nate1222
nate1222

I'm with SHACKR on this one. Some Advergames "might" be fun but I'm NOT buying any. And on the issue of "fitting into...seamlessly", it's understandable. In certain genres and plots it makes sense and can help pay the bills. Say, in a racing game, race cars have ads all over them in real life. Sports titles in particular are no-brainers. Games with contemporary urban setting would seem a natural fit. Just don't go so far that the game itself is a $60 advertisement!

GrimGravy
GrimGravy

F#@k this. leave my games alone please bad enough i have to get an ear full of it when i drive to work and school or turn on the TV.

SHACKR
SHACKR

Advergames are just corporal shovelware.

rockstar_88
rockstar_88

Yeah, advertising methods in Guitar Hero III on the 360 were terrible, and that's really the only game I've played with any sort of advertising. That 5 gum is great, but what does it have to do with song selections? It doesn't make me want to play the guitar while I'm chewing a stick. Or an Axe Guitar? A guitar is a chick magnet in itself in real life, but even too much Axe will make anyone go away.

TraAus
TraAus

"The solution for prospective advertisers, Emery says, is to eliminate recognition; in other words, advertise in games in a way that gamers won't notice." I know that this is supposed to make it cheaper for developers but at the same time isn't that kinda like subliminal? Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but if I don't notice it then how would I realize that its trying to advertise to me a message?

AncientDozer
AncientDozer

GTA is one of the best games for this. Heh. If you saw a coke advertisement you wouldn't think much of it.

revelations
revelations

Burnout Paradise is currently.....well, you know how bad that one is. Great game....just the advertising is so blantant and EA-ish. Makes me a little sad. As if EA need the extra cash to pay for development hehe. Criterion....sorry!

juggleballz
juggleballz

GTA4 or any GTA for that matter should NEVER have in game ads, or product placements. It detracts from the humor and fictious world. I love searching around shops in Vice City and San Andreas to read the funny product names they used. It adds to the "want to discover things" feeling one gets whilst playing the game. If I saw Mars Bars and Snickers,a nd frigging Coca Cola cans in shops would I bother my ass looking at them, hell no. But someone(s) earlier made an interesting comment, if ads are going to be placed in games, those games should be made cheaper. Its like those "free magazines" you can get (well in Ireland anyway) that have loads of ads in them. They are free becuase the ads pay for the production and wages. In that case the games should be marketed cheaper making them fly off the shelf and therefore the advertising campaign and target market spreads faster. Now I actually do not condone this in the slightest, but if these big games companies make billions of people, then make more of advertising without thinking at all for the end user (us) then I won't be happy.

lamprey263
lamprey263

I think in game advertising should be like real world advertising, where we'd see the ads in games like we'd see them in real life, like on billboards and on TV or on a computer screen surfing the net or over a radio or something. I'm gonna be pissed when all my favorite heroes and villains are tarted up with ads like a NASCAR vehicle.

sharpshooter188
sharpshooter188

thats the one of things i hate about the usa and being a us citizen. there are adverts EVERYWHERE. I get irritated as hell when people come up and try to advertise to me and especially when they persist. On top of which some companys will fire their employees for not advertising special deals etc. it sickens me.

Robio_basic
Robio_basic

You totally misunderstood what he said. What he basically said was, "imagine if a company with a huge advertising budget, like McDonalds, made one of these games, but did it with the same budget as a AAA title, and then sold it for $4." Now I'm not sure if he thinks that's a good thing or a bad thing, but it's an interesting question all the same.

Sydwynder
Sydwynder

Is this guy saying that the budget for game development for the BK games was close to that of Halo 3, COD4 ? If so, wow, was that a waste of money. I would love to see game prices come down but that will never happen. Too much money to be made.......

Sydwynder
Sydwynder

Is this guy saying that the budget for game development for the BK games was close to that of Halo 3, COD4 ? If so, wow, was that a waste of money. I would love to see game prices come down but that will never happen. Too much money to be made.......

prioritymail
prioritymail

If a little more advertising in games equals cheaper prices, Im all for it. Just as long as it isnt obnoxious.

zeke2040
zeke2040

Are Your Serious.... 0_o

smokeyf
smokeyf

If advertising in games reduces the cost of games then bring them on. I don't even notice them most of the time. They obviously would be innappropriate in the wrong game environment. Having ads for real products in a game such as GTAIV is completely acceptable as it would only make the in-game world seem more realistic. However those same ads wouldn't work in a game like GOW. Why not let ads bring down consumers costs. Until they have cut-scene-commercials in a game where you are forced to see an ad I could care less. I bet there wouldn't be too many complaints about in-game ads if GTAIV was released with a sale price of $10.

ChickenHounk911
ChickenHounk911

I wouldn't mind getting a FREE game with my next happy meal purchase. No matter how bad it is, you can always use the discs as coasters! I can see it now: The Hamburglar starring in "Grand Theft Burger" and Ronald McDonald starring in a updated version of "Burgertime" yipee!

BoogieManZero
BoogieManZero

I am ashamed to this day that I actually went out and purchased "Big Bumpin". It has easily become the worst title in my collection...and I own Jaws Unleashed!

AngelCage
AngelCage

The real problem with ads in games (or games with ads) is this: WEE SHOLD PAY LESS FOR THOSE GAMES!!!! $60 to play a ads campaing such almost any of the EA games???? Come on. I remember some years ago, when i buy the brand new and just released Burnout 3: Takedown, i put it in my PS2, start the play and then in no time i saw ads of AXE!!!!! ads of axe with a picture of a ugly woman in it (i could be better if the picture was of a top-model with little clothes and not that horrible woman).

TexasAnMGrad2K
TexasAnMGrad2K

"Advergames" - no thanks. In game advertising - OK, as long as it's appropriate.

drogaz
drogaz

I can't believe how ignorant Gamespot users can be. Putting ads in games does not reduce the price and does not add to the "immersion". Maybe it does in sports and some racing games if it's subtle but over the top ads in anything is not cool. I already have ads in everything else, I don't need them polluting my games. Games are a way to escape not to have products shoved down you're throat. It may start in sports games but pretty soon they will be standard in all games if you let them.

bigcaz
bigcaz

the onli time i hav had fun with advertisments in games is in burnout paradise. you hav gilette vans goin round. i love crashin into them lol. other than that i hate adverts in game

sam-o-
sam-o-

I don't get it, they don't bother me, the ones on gamespot do though

xgalacticax
xgalacticax

Its good when u can do something bad to these people and their ads like get grand theft auto and a mod for a burger king joint and burn it down in the game heehee. Of course u won't do them any harm but u'll feel better :)

SentientGames
SentientGames

Advergames are kind of silly, but if they're fun, who cares? I just don't condone in-game advertising unless it fits with the game. I don't want to be playing a sci-fi game and see a McDonalds advertisement, but if I'm playing a modern game, it would be cool to have a shoot-out or something in a bombed-out Mick-e-dees.

Santhin
Santhin

You know I didn't think the Burger King games were all that bad. Sneak King was pretty boring, but the other two really fealt like you got your money's worth for them. I mean, I've certainly seen far less polished titles sell at full price, and considering I got about, three or four fun plays out of the games, that's about worth the money my group pitched in on it. Games that are advertisments I have no problem with (I know what I'm getting into), but games that are full of advertisements well, I feel the same way I do about them putting ads before a movie. I thought the whole reason I as the customer was paying for something was to avoid adspace. If a game has lots of ads, it should be sold cheaper to the public since the ad companies are paying for that part of things. If suddenly people released more 5 and 10 dollar decent quality games with ads in them, I certainly won't complain about that. It's when the games are still 60 bucks and full of billboards and my characters jacket has a Pepsi symbol on the back that I'm feeling cheesed off.

dru26
dru26

I'm scared Home is going to be plastered with advertisements. I wouldn't mind a few billboards scattered about, but if trophies are sponsored by companies I'll throw up.

Toadso
Toadso

I really dont mind, if they could make the ads fit the setting of the game, it could actually become a positive thing. It would perhaps make the game more realistic. In COD4 for example, it could be fun and realistic seeing a destroyed Coke billboard in the middle of the battlefield(in the city maps ofc). And it would also be a good way to advertise for the different companies. + it would give the developers more cash to spend on their games. I dont mind this type of advertisement at all.

wanizame98
wanizame98

Yaris is awful, but this might not be ALL bad. EA Montreal could revive and expand Army of Two's staunch-the-bleeding-with-a-tampon minigame and release it on XBLA. Brought to you by Kotex, or whatever.

rapaleeman
rapaleeman

The worst example of ads in games is Need For Speed ProStreet. There were achievements with ads in them. In other news, advergames are fine. They are cheap, usually suck, provide a couple hours of "fun" and they're done. Advertising in games is fine and as said in the article as long as it makes sense. For example, the clothing to equip your skater in skate., cars in a racing/sandbox style game, gatorade in Madden, etc... These are all fine. A little variety is still needed but those are fine. Even the sidekick in skate. was fine. Just no Dodge ads in war torn Mexico or Axe body spray like in all Ubi games. That crap is annoying. Plus drop a few dollars off the game. We are essentially paying for the ads. Give us an incentive or rationale for them. End Rant.

Tremblay343
Tremblay343

I really don't mind it cause i know its never going to make me buy their stuff, but it gives the developers more money. So i see it as a good thing, cause more money = better games...normally

Tremere1
Tremere1

It is very simple. Do some research via the net, and if you find a particular game with ads, then don't buy it.

juggleballz
juggleballz

The problem with ads in games, i feel, detracts from the ficticiousness of the game...if that makes sense. I hate in game advertising, as it proves the point that advertisors are ruthless, constantly bombarding the public with "buy this cuz you need it" or manipulating them into thinking they need it. (This really just relates to the big global corporations) Also, in Burnout Paradise for example, you can smash through 'Burnout' billbords, but I guarantee you wouldn't be 'allowed' to smash through any of the Visio ads, or any company ad for that matter. Because the company advertsing that ad wouldn't want it destroyed. It's pathetic. Personally if I could, I would go around and break every one of them. :-) Ever wonder why Burnout doesn't use licensed cars? Because the car wrecks are that bad that it 'may give the impression' that that make of car is not safe. Plus car manufacturers don't want their car catagorised as a crap car. I am anti 'in-game-ads', because I play games to get away from reality, enter a new ficticious world, and probably to get away from advertising. lol. I would HATE to play GTA IV if it had all realistic ads, as that takes away from its humor and social statement on advertising and big businesses as a whole.

Lumenadducere
Lumenadducere

It's a sad truth, but if it provides more money for the industry then I won't complain. And if they can make the ads fit the setting then that's fine by me. We can have GTA IV with some McDonald's ads and I wouldn't mind.

PiNwOrM
PiNwOrM

I felt ripped off after getting Yaris, and that game was free!

chris_damon
chris_damon

I don't mind adverts in games as long as it's realistic. For example, I don't want to see a Coke advert in an Age of Empires game or whatever. But seeing a Coke advert in a game that takes place in a city (like GTA, Burnout etc), then I don't mind. As for "Advergames", I don't really care as I won't be buying them.

ALLoY1717
ALLoY1717

The only reason that game sold so much was achievement points. Thats it, nothing else.

NinjaMunkey01
NinjaMunkey01

who would buy that burger king game? they played it on on the spot and it was really bad. they laugheed at its rubbishness. Its ok in games with big open world maps. But if anyone puts ads in a game like elder scrolls, wipeout or FF that would be waaay to far.