The feelings I get when I think about in-game advertising are quite neutral. They don’t really bother me, and that’s because they tend to be quite discrete. It’s not like potions in Diablo are coke bottles and hidden treasures in Zelda are iPhones and Dell laptops. Well, at least not yet.
A research study conducted by Nielsen BASES and Nielsen Games on behalf of IGA Worldwide shows that gamers actually get affected positively by in-game ads. 82% of the 1,300 PC gaming participants felt that the experience was just as enjoyable with ads as without, and 61% felt that their attitude towards the company had improved after the game session.
The ads came from Jeep, Wrigley and Taco Bell and the games were presented by Electronic Arts and Activision. Sadly, it doesn’t say how the ads looked and were presented, and since “in-game advertising” hasn’t been defined, it feels kind of silly when Dave Anderson, senior director of business development for Activision, says “This study offers proof that dynamic in-game advertising is an influential digital ad medium. As game publishers, it is reassuring to know advertisers and consumers both stand to benefit from dynamic ads.”
At the end of the day, I guess in-game ads are something we can all live with (and by the looks of it must), as long as it doesn’t go to the extremes. Sometimes it can even be a good thing, if it adds to the realism — advertisements are to be expected when playing sports or racing games because of the massive advertising in real life. The same ideas are not as easily applied to first-person shooters or role-playing games however — seeing a Dodge billboard in a remote hut village makes little sense.