I must confess, the first time I fired up WipeOut in 1995 and sailed under that Red Bull banner (scraping my way along the barrier), I was impressed by this new collision of real products and virtual worlds. Even though it’d been done before, this was, to me at least, the most impressive example at the time. Mind you, I’ve only just ceased being amused by the Dole logos in Super Monkey Ball.
Fast forward a few years and product placement and advertising is everywhere in games – sometimes it works, sometimes it’s intrusive. A football game without any ads on the pitch would look strange, yet fantasy RPGs with soft drink product placement would break the sense of immersion.
Massive Incorporated, a New York based company have come up with a solution for games development houses keen to acquire revenue through placing adverts in their games, and for advertisers desperate to reach all those gamers that don’t watch TV any more.
Massive Ad Server is a service for streaming advertising into games live through an internet connection – allowing more adverts in games, and hopefully keeping them focused. Advertising is traditionally hard coded into games, and so the ad is never updated – this gets fresh advertising in to games, and allows the sponsor and products to be changed and updated.
Massive back the service up with a sales team that have advertisers keen to reach gamers in-game, using information gathered about the game and its demographics. No point in streaming Barbie ads to young adults playing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, is there?
I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this one really. Given that 20% fewer men between 18 – 24 are watching TV these days, advertisers need new ways to reach audiences. Gaming is a good way to do it – but the second I see Link wearing Nike, I’m taking up croquet.