The Lazy Designer

Integrated Videogame Advertising Question

While preparing my next post about Designing Frustration a thought popped into my head that has nothing really to do with frustration…

And that is advertising.

Specifically in-game advertising. I haven’t really noticed much of this in any demos that I’ve played recently but a few years there was a lot of conversation within the industry about rolling it out. Has it happened and I’m just missing it? What has player feedback been on it?

Basically for those unaware of what in-game advertising is, it is the idea that a game would advertise real life products within the context of the game environment. So on the streets of a simulated city you might see billboards for popular Cola drinks and such. The concept makes more sense for modern or futuristic games.

For games set in the future the way I’d like to see this advertising integrated is for the product to be incorporated into the game world itself… so that the designers actually imagine how the particular companies advertising their services might function. Did somebody win the Cola wars? Did a young upstart rise to global domination? Playing around with these ideas, I think, could lead to stronger immersion.
For example: imagine if in far future shooter RPG you actually had to download books from Amazon to do your research. In that way the company is being advertised but almost passively as it becomes another ‘thing’ the player has to interact with to complete the game. Maybe all the squad members on your super elite death dealing team are all connections on Google+?

Anyways, back to writing… the last post on Designing Frustration should be up tomorrow.

Former lead designer at BioWare (Dragon Age: Origins, Neverwinter Nights). Creator of Raiders of the Serpent Sea.

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