Obama campaigns in Burnout, 17 other games

[UPDATE 3] Burnout players in 10 states will be racing past in-game ads for the presidential candidate from Illinois all month long; AP reports spots also appearing in Madden, NASCAR, NBA, NHL, and Skate; Obama staff tells NPR it has buys in 18 games.


Change has been a key theme of Barack Obama's presidential campaign. For example, the campaign for the Democratic senator from Illinois is actively courting the votes of gamers for a change.

Game the vote?
Game the vote?

As pointed out by GamePolitics last week, ads for Obama's presidential campaign have been spotted in Electronic Arts' high-octane racer Burnout Paradise. An EA spokesperson today confirmed for GameSpot that the Xbox 360 version of the game has been playing host to Obama billboards since October 6. The advertising campaign will run until Monday, November 3, the eve of the US general election.

The EA representative said that the ads would appear in only 10 different states, most of them contested battleground states. Paradise City residents in Ohio, Florida, Iowa, Colorado, Indiana, Montana, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, and Wisconsin are being targeted by the campaign. In the 2004 presidential election, all of those states except Wisconsin went to Republican incumbent George W. Bush.

The Obama campaign is running only on the Xbox 360 version of the game, given that it was handled by Microsoft-owned in-game ad firm Massive Incorporated. In-game ads for the PlayStation 3 version of Burnout Paradise are operated by IGA Worldwide. As for the absence of Republican presidential candidate John McCain, the EA representative said that Massive had approached the Arizona senator's campaign, which "passed" on a Burnout ad buy.

The EA representative said that the publisher treats its in-game advertising like a TV network or radio station would, noting, "Political advertising does not reflect the opinions or policies of EA or its developers." A representative with IGA Worldwide said the firm "could not comment on the political advertisements."

Though EA is not officially endorsing Obama, its top executive has donated to the Democrat's campaign. In another GamePolitics report, the site pointed to a host of industry figures' political-campaign contributions, with EA CEO John Riccitiello throwing $4,600 into the Obama kitty. Many other game luminaries have also donated thousands this election cycle, with Spore designer Will Wright and Activision CEO Bobby Kotick among those sending thousands to McCain, whereas Take-Two chairman Strauss Zelnick and ESRB president Patricia Vance contributed substantial sums to Obama. In the primaries, Valve Software head Gabe Newell contributed $2,300 to Democrat Chris Dodd's doomed candidacy.

[UPDATE]: A representative with Massive told GameSpot the Obama campaign approached the company with the idea of the campaign, and went on to state that Massive "does not endorse either candidate." The in-game ad firm does restrict some advertisements, however; it does not accept tobacco or alcohol ads, and other restrictions vary depending on the rating of the game in question.

[UPDATE 2]: The Associated Press is now reporting that Obama is running ads in 8 other EA games, including Madden NFL 09. The other titles include "NASCAR, NBA, NHL, and skateboarding" titles, with the latter presumably meaning Skate.

[UPDATE 3]: The Wednesday installment of National Public Radio's Morning Edition says the Obama campaign has announced it is now running ads on a total of 18 games.

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Avatar image for patrickanator

come on burnouut! your a cool game, so why put somebody like obama on a billboard sighn? Now that hes president america is going to be so screwd up its not beacsue hes black i think that im not racist

Avatar image for nintendoboy16

Ok, I think this is really stupid to put presidential ads in games, and I thought standard product placement was bad enough, but this puts it in further.

Avatar image for danielreader22

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Avatar image for danielreader22

Obama won the elections. Oh man, were screwed...

Avatar image for sdixon30333

Obama 08!!! He ain't desperate, he's just trying to get everyone involved!!! So fux off!!!!!

Avatar image for georgeorjose

how desperate do u have to be, to put ur campaign in a video game!?!?! this guy is trying to squeeze out any vote he can huh. good thing they are not in any games i have played i would have send that game back for repair

Avatar image for redhaze02

obama 08!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Avatar image for WNxUSA

So glad i bought a PS3 and not a X360. I don't have to worry about those adds because their not in the PS3 version! I love you Sony and your peoples for not making me see that crap :D X360 can deal with the obama crap. God help us if he becomes president, were all fuxed on more ways than one to sunday. I shudder at what he wants to do tot he gaming industry.

Avatar image for filmfreak1138

Why cant we have JESUS SAVES? Cuz Obama sure as heck cant... He going to mess our country up so bad. 1st. He is not even an American citizen 2nd. He has only been in office for something like 178 DAYS!!!!! and 3rd. just like Criterion... he is going to take OUR money! Please... put Burger King or Nike ads up... tear down those Obama signs!!

Avatar image for foxy42

Oh yeh, and as for billboards in games, the only objection I have is the incredible waste of money to place the propaganda in the game, when you are never really gonna see it (passing at 200mph). Check out Grid for an example of perfect product placement, the eBay motors function actually adds depth to the game and is relevant.

Avatar image for foxy42

Quote from a Greek email going around the internet with a picture of a church billboard photoshopped to state... "vote for the colored guy, the other one's an a$$". It works much better in Greek due to the subtleties of the language, but I can assure you that's how all of Europe feels. If you guys vote for McCain, you should be made to relinquish your voting rights, and come back under British colonial rule, as you will have demonstrated 3 times in a row that you don't understand what you are voting for. If you don't really know why you are voting, DON'T VOTE. The really funny part is that you impeached one of the best presidents you ever had for getting a bj; Clinton (IQ 180), and voted in... Bush, one of the worst you ever had (IQ 90, yes really). Then you voted him in AGAIN! OMGlolzzzz. I realise this comment will probably be removed and if it's against site policy then fair enough, but GS, if you don't want people posting political comments, don't post political news articles. Thanks guys, and God Bless America, it will be great again and not the butt of the world's political jokes. Peace. (An Englishman living in Greece)

Avatar image for division_9


Avatar image for Toysoldier34

McCain should put a Joe the Plummer ad in the next mario game... Giggle Giggle

Avatar image for marco_poalo

If I buy Spore am I supporting McCain? Along with DRM, these are two reasons to pirate a game. lol.

Avatar image for Snipeflip

y'all act like you gon like the advertisement is gonna be in your face, its only on the billboard. If any of y'all ever played Midnight Club 3 did you notice that rapper The Game's CD was on a billboard. Now it was 1 of those almost subliminal things you notice, so its not really a big deal in my eyes.

Avatar image for Media_Mind


Avatar image for jeffmclark1973

mabey NAder will pull the upset and then those adds will mean nothing...LOL.. Yea it's ok to put an add in there I mean I'm not playing to read the signs and think wow, I really need to vote, I glance them and think that was funny, and it's gonna really date the game when your grandsons are playing the game and they think nothing of them.. oh man this could get long...I better stop now.

Avatar image for sportsfreak13


Avatar image for Shadow_Fax87

That's ridiculous.... So when he asks joe the plummer to "share the wealth" though his ridiculous taxes I don't see any thing coming out of his wallet!!!!! Barrack Obama is a two faced polotician and is not good for our country....

Avatar image for lathan94

I think politics should be kept out of video games as well. I play games to enjoy them. Ive never heard of people not caring about the vote of gamers either. I determine who im going to vote for by the internet exclusivley. You cant trust the press to give you the full and true story.

Avatar image for Sundaze

I want JOE THE PLUMBERS billboard in the game !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! -WIN Just make sure you know his last name and understand how a policy will actually affect him before you go on national tv to talk to him.

Avatar image for Sundaze

You don't need to look at things to notice them. I was just replying to a post by a user with "notorious" in their name... When I was explaining something, I used the word notorious because it just came to mind... I didn't notice until after I posted what had caused it. I don't think ads will ever drop the cost for us, but I don't find the unwelcome, either. I think some of the ads are actually kind of cool. Remember the movie theater in Splinter Cell 2? What if it was showing a new preview every couple of weeks. I don't mind seeing new posters in Rainbow Six and I think billboards and ads on the boards in rinks add to the realism of games. Just my take on things.

Avatar image for Saint_Francis

If we're waiting around for a price decrease on games because of this added revenue from in-game advertising, we can forget it. Known as 'sticky pricing' in economics, the same holds true for grocery prices remaining constant even though the price of oil has recently largely decreased. The manufacturers keep the extra revenue and will only decrease prices if they believe enough people will stop buying their products. Regarding the idea of warming up to gamers. Isn't it Senator Obama himself who often relates to the American youth as a demographic that should "put away the video games and go outside". Now imagine that, a politician who says one thing and does another.

Avatar image for charbo6

This is going to get rediculous eventaully. Pretty soon we will have full out commercials during loading times and sponsored advertisements taking over. Its bad enough that I can't go to the movies anymore without being subjected to product commercials, but now I'll have to put up with it in my videogames...what next?

Avatar image for drkcrusher

Bah, i never look at the billboards in burnout paradise anyway... unless i missed smashing one or two into oblivion.... its about time politicians cared about the vote of gamers! ... i still think they should be smashable tho :)

Avatar image for mankeyador

can politics stay out of video games? geez.

Avatar image for klugenbeel

Wow....as a Communications Major, this is impressive to see a polical campaign to target a new Media for advertising, especially so soon since its start. Though what is still to be seen is WHY ARE WE PAYING 60 BUCKS PER NEW GAME? I watch game makers putting out games without in game ads and they sell for 60 bucks, not 70 and have free online gameplay options, ect. So the extra revenue and gross profit these companies are making are not reflecting cheaper games or more options. Bastards are just pcketing this cash and like a Politician, they don't do things they say they will do.

Avatar image for lionheartssj1

I wonder if they could reduce the price of the games since they're getting all this extra funding?.......that would be nice.

Avatar image for EnaVRi

I'm a marketing student, and i'd say this one hell of a political marketing... props to Barack's campaign team for being so novel...

Avatar image for ghoward79

Once they allow those ads watch out! Lots of irritating ads will come out.

Avatar image for dcrysta68

It makes sense, actually. Seeing as how today's average gamer is a 27 year old male, that's the demographica Obama's campaign is trying to win over. Besides, if you don't like Barack you can always drive your car through his billboard.

Avatar image for firehawk998

I want JOE THE PLUMBERS billboard in the game !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Avatar image for soulfood4

Boo!!! Im voting for Obama too, but come on, i hate when the government puts ads in games. Like the ones sponsored by the air force. Anyway it just seems a lil desperate, i doubt youll convert most gamers

Avatar image for CamiKitten

At first Obama thought gaming was for 5 year olds, now he wants billboards in games? O_o; I imagine then he's opened his eyes some. Personally I don't think political advertisements should be in a game. We see enough of it in other means of media - via newpapers, magazines, and the all important television. Go back to fake advertisements plz, you could one day be sending the wrong message to consumers.

Avatar image for YaSealedWeh

There are advertisements in real life, so they might as well sell board space in video games where applicable. As for political advertisements, I think Obama is dead on for going this route. Not only does it show that he's willing to broaden his base, but also that he's willing to think outside the box.

Avatar image for theone332


Avatar image for Genaral_Zap

Well I am against advertising in games in general

Avatar image for spOOoOOn

heh you honestly think he came up with the idea of ingame advertisement? About 0.5% of campaign idea's are from the actual people running for office, regardless which side.

Avatar image for Incubus420

This makes me sick...Im voting for the guy, but geeze. Its obviouse that he should be the president if his team can think of this idea. McCain doesn't even know how to use a computer. How the hell is he going to advertise on Videogames ROFL.

Avatar image for MarcusOfLycea

To Zaradis: You'd better consider it a 'success' "even if" they vote for McCain. Ohio certainly doesn't (illegal ballots, giving food out for votes for Obama... its really quite sad). The whole problem with your statements though is summed up in what you said: Younger voters show considerable ignorance. If they vote, they have no idea why, except maybe that they think one candidate is 'cooler' than the other. Maybe its best if those ignorant of politics don't vote. Voting and knowledge of issues should go hand in hand.

Avatar image for Zaradis

I think it's a needed idea. There are too many younger voters oblivious to voting and show considerable ignorance to knowing what goes on in their government and political world. And even if this billboard, regardless of who it is for, sucessfully attempts to get a few more involved in the democratic election process then I would consider it a success, even IF they voted for McCain.

Avatar image for uglynuncreative

"If they included more commercial 'billboards' in games, then the prices of them would lower considerably..." I'm going to have to disagree with this one, the logic behind the argument is sound in theory, but the theory when applied in reality produces an entirely different result. Theoretically, video games shouldn't be high-priced in a record industry scheme of off-setting losses, because the quality of the collaborative enterprise would yield such desirable results that sales alone (even at the current high-level) would cover the expenses. When production is tied togethor through a large enterprise, such as EA, returns to scale should emerge even with differentiated inputs and costs of production should drop for increased planned production. In theory... it all works out extremely well, buuuut... reality is far different than economic theory. Ads in video games are just another way to nickle and dime customers while delivering mediocre formulaic schlock. I'd be surprised if it happens this generation, but probably in a decade or so the mainstream gaming industry will paint itself into a corner by letting douches with MBA's run companies, unless they can secure some form of distribution mechanism more restrictive than consoles (which is unlikely given the presence of the PC), but you never know what some politician will be talked into enacting into law in ten years time given the proper pre-existing relationships... hey... wait a minute....

Avatar image for lions_rock_2008

haha i think this is actually kinda cool!!

Avatar image for TPSISO9000

Get out of my game!!!! #1-I've been screaming since Activision and Neilson started this talk years ago, stop in game advertising! This will go just like movies and the next thing you know we'll have unskippable commercials everytime you boot up a game. #2-Get Obama out of my game!!!! Games are expensive enough as it is, I don't want his tax increases on game companies to 'cause them to go up.

Avatar image for Shaun373

Even though I am all about the Obama campaign I would be happier if I could separate my politics from my games and with these ads I am a captive audience if I want to play the game.

Avatar image for MGSFan92

I wouldn't complain, no matter who the ****'s head it was. I just enjoy the game, and take in the view, even if it means looking at McCain, Obama's or Hillary Clinton's head.

Avatar image for KOSMOSEngineer

"It's a flat piece of pixels that you'll view for a few seconds before you drive pat it. At least you don't have a floating McCain head wishing you good luck as you pass through each lap..." Would you complain if it was an Obama head? It's the principal and what it could lead to. If they conclude that Obama's in-game ads worked to great effect, there's no telling what we could see in games...

Avatar image for DoctorEnzek

I'm for Obama but seriously?!? in a video game, thats almost like subliminal messaging isn't it? driving past those things at high speeds? you never really consciously see it. thats taking it one step to far in my opinion

Avatar image for MGSFan92

To the people saying that it's terrible, they really need to reconsider. I mean WHO CARES? It's a flat piece of pixels that you'll view for a few seconds before you drive pat it. At least you don't have a floating McCain head wishing you good luck as you pass through each lap...