Gamers, Video Games and a Big Mac???

Ever play a video game before?

Most people have and, if you haven’t spent much time doing so, you still probably remember a time you immersed yourself into one of these alternate universes. Places where, with the level of detail possible in today’s games, allow you to engage with many sights, sounds, and interactive game play. What’s a better place for marketers, in need of newer advertising platforms, than right where roughly 1.2 billion people spend a good amount of their days? Also with the global games market projected to reach $86.1 billion by 2016, the video game sphere has revolutionized the way advertisements can be seen.

Not every business is going to be cut out for in-game marketing ads. As a smaller business getting locked into an expensive and broad marketing agreement with game developers is probably the last thing anyone wants, besides the developers of course. Yet with customizable in-game ads becoming more readily available, this platform is becoming much more prominent in all sized businesses.

Before deciding to go through with any in-game marketing, both sides of the plan will have to weigh out the pros and cons of using any of these ads. Founder of IGA Worldwide, a company that helps gaming studios find advertisers for their games, Justin Townsend was quoted saying this: "we see that gamers are generally happy with advertising in games so long as it's not intrusive and so long as it's contextually relevant." As a developer or advertiser, the first questions to be asked is what kind of relevance will the ad campaign bring to the game at hand and what level of distraction will it bring to the gamers? Being seen as a company that caused more distraction than relevance in a game will take a more negative toll on the popular perception of your company than positive.  If the ads become widespread and effective enough, there is also the possibility of lowered costs to you, the consumers! Being seen as a company, that used effective in-game ads, and also helped bring the cost of a game down, with 1.2 billion people as your audience, you can probably see how this method of advertising can be a highly sought after practice.

McDonalds has done these kinds of ads in recent years, placing product ads on in-game billboards, building walls, and sports arena ad boards. While McDonalds is still commonly seen as one of the front running modern fast food joints, they may have gone a bit overboard when it came to their recent in-game marketing plan. A great quote by an unknown source states “A McDonald’s ad just isn’t going to look natural in the land of “Skyrim.”” You may laugh at the idea of a silly non-relevant McDonald’s ad in any alternative universe that isn’t close to being Earth, but it happens and has been done by McDonalds. In the world of Mortal Combat, where fictitious warriors, with super powers, fight to the death, having a giant billboard in the background telling you to buy a full McDonalds meal is probably the last thing you want to see as a gamer. So as you can see not every company totally gets in-game advertising.