170: Corporate Consoletation

Corporate Consoletation

"I'm in pole position, tensely awaiting for the race to begin. Three sets of red light up - time to get serious. I can hear my lady purr as I depress the accelerator. Two yellow. The kitty becomes a lion. Suddenly, green! The combined force of eight engines and 32 squealing tires tears apart the pavement. Moments later, we're tumbling through a curving pipe, collecting power-ups and learning about modestly priced, fuel-efficient compact cars together.

"Wait a second ..."

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Over this past weekend, I've been playing Jet Rider 2, and old PSX game that I used to thrash when I was in primary school. What I didn't remember, however, was the game is sponsored by Mountain Dew and Kawasaki! Fancy that! Low resolution logos plastered everywhere and on everything, with liberal use of the corporate colours, green, red and white scattered throughout the track.

The campaign can't have been too successful, though, as I never, ever remembered that Mountain Dew was featured so predominantly, and I never used to drink Mountain Dew!

I remember when advertisements started popping up in sports games. At first, it was kind of entertaining, as to me it helped enhance the presentation - "it's like a real football game," because after all there were ads.

It seems to have gotten worse and worse, and for the most part it's easy to ignore, but every once in a while I start to wonder how much impact these ads have on me. Then I crave a Snickers.

As a car enthusiast, I find it difficult to believe that anybody would have made a game based on the Toyota Yaris, of all the cars that they could have marketed. I find it even more difficult to believe that anyone would purchase it with the intent of having fun. I'd understand if it was a Shelby Mustang, a Chevrolet Corvette, or, to give a Japanese performance car example, a Nissan GT-R, but the Yaris is hardly the sort of car that you associate with performance, and a racing game isn't exactly the best way to spread your message of environmental friendliness.

Last thing I heard, cars being accelerated quickly caused more environmental damage than cars being driven at road pace. Hmmm... Perhaps they're conforming to some sort of physics that I've never heard of before.


Con (together) solid (one unchanging mass) ation (make it happen.)

As games move more and more into everyday culture the amount of advertisement in games will increase exponentially and move from products with "core"-gamers as their customer targetgroup to more mainstream products. The success of the Wii and growing casual market will enourmously accelerate this process.
It is difficult to decide whether to oppose this development or embrace it. My hope is that it will partly absorb skyrocketing development costs, although I fear the day when tampon ads pop up during a session of Wii Fit.

There are only a few games which I've ever found that work with advertisements, instead of them being in your face about it. Surprise, surprise, all of these games involve sport of some sort. Gran Turismo 4, GTR Evolution, more recent field sports games - you associate these sorts of games with advertisements, because their real-life analogues are plastered with advertising themselves.

That said, I remember the days when games had to either create their own adverts or else make modified versions of adverts by other companies to avoid being sued.

Hmm. I remember the outcry when it was announced that MGS4 would have an in-game Ipod. Yells of sellout, and saying how it would ruin the game. Suprise suprise, it was done in a subtle way and chose cause it was the best option for a neccesary spot. It being the leading brand is surpassed by the reason why it is the leading brand - ease of use.

Alright, I don't believe you that you didn't think the Yaris game was a commercial. :-)

That said, I remember the days when games had to either create their own adverts or else make modified versions of adverts by other companies to avoid being sued.

Slightly off-topic, but I remember watching an interview with the head of Mythic(WAR), and he was laughed out of offices in the 80's, becuase he was pitching the idea of an online world. The studio heads were laughing out of the office because they say online gaming as nothing more "than a market niche". Oh, how time flies...

On-topic, this (in-game adverts) were bound to happen. The issue is that they make sure the things are subtle, or, as gamers have already shown, the games will get blasted for it.

As disturbing as the Yaris ad is, i cannot see it as anything but a boon to gaming.

Think, what do all mainstream media have in common? Commercial interest. Sure, we'll have to put up with some rather blunt advertisements but the end result is glorious. Its not enough to advertise, you need to have a damn good game to get your product/game hybrid in the mainstream yes?

What this represents is a further stake in the gaming world by corporate suits with the cash to spend on some truly amazing games. As well as this, its an incentive for a corporation to aid gaming's integration into society as a whole. Gamers still have a stigma attached as the basement dwelling pizza-eaters, but with soulless corporate PR people behind the wheel, that will soon be washed away!

The future is a wondrous golden/grey.

Need I remind you people what sort of games came out for the NES back in the Troglodyte Age?

Yo! Noid, anybody? California Raisins? MC Kids in freakin' MacDonaldland?

If it's from Xbox Live, I'm assuming the Yaris game wasn't a full $60.00. The used to try and charge full price for this garbage. I think we're far better off now, even if The Man is a little more underhanded.

Great article. Could you do one that focus on firearms companies. Colt, HK, Magnum Research Inc. a subsidiary of Israel Military Industries, all of them also ad in games. I mean, I grew up playing shooters and I don't beleave that producers pay the companies to display their products. I belive that's the opposite, Colt pays them to show their stuff.
Thanks for your article.

Largely credited as the first company to promote their products in a virtual environment, Coca-Cola made a deal with Atari to display their brand on a special release of the blockbuster Space Invaders.

Only by people who don't know what they are talking about. The game was made for a corporate event and was never sold or seen by the public. Only 125 copies were made so it obviously wasn't any sort of advertisement but rather an example of 80s excess ("Coke is so sucessful, we can afford to give out a custom-made videogame in our gift bags!"). For real examples of early adver-gaming, look at Kool-Aid Man and Chase The Chuckwagon, both released in 1983.

Such a sad thing that getting a spot for XBLA is so hard, yet you find some shit advergame.

A message for the artist: That's the coolest art I've seen on escapist yet!

Coke ads and car commercials in video games are innocent enough. The real fear is when the US military starts producing games to "entice" young gamers into joining. When that time comes, expect a new wave of young, uneducated, and relatively poor teenagers to eagerly enlist thinking that urban warfare is best played with a 2L of Mountain Dew, a large pizza, and a new weapons unlock code.

Oh wait. That has already started.

With games hitting the market and content bans, I would believe that government would be the first few to suggest advertising. After uncontestation from agencies, I would see companies seeking advertising parnterships.

As gamers how affected do you feel about games you consistently play? With MMORPGs making a larger debut than ever how do we see the future of gaming turning?

I see MMOs in general as being able to experience gaming at your own time and enjoy it with others on your same time schedule. Escaping the single-player mode, for instance. With that in thought, I see future NPCs forcing quests dealing with merchandising.

Just a thought.

I'm of the opinion that ingame marketing is okay as long as it's tasteful and in moderation.

Billboards with ads in racing games or GTA types? Cool.
Continuous reminding of which companies put adds in the game because of NPC talk? Bad.
[Brand Name] Replay! [Brand Name] Halftime show! gets old reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeal quick, Mr. Madden.

It would also be nice if the added cash inflow from paid advertisers would lower the cost of games, but I have my pipe dreams.

Honorable mention for Obama during the presidential campaign too. Did he have a billboard in Forza or Project Gotham or something?

Amazing read, especially the "After-work team-building" article you linked up there. Keep it up.


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