Mining Game Franchises for Ad Dollars

quake marine.jpgIn-game advertising in game sports franchises, driving simulations, gritty, real-world depictions where brands help convince while allowing brands to share a message with players has shared certain synergy. Then there’s the untouchables: The “Halos,” the “Devil May Cry,” the “Age of Empires III.” When Microsoft’s Xbox Live and Massive guys were in town last fall I asked them about placing a product integration for Hershey’s in a game like “Call of Duty” and they said, “There are ‘awards’ given each year for the worst use of brand advertising in a game, and we don’t want it.”

Enter the next generation of games on the in-game ad network rosters. Ubisoft is monetizing its back catalog on Double Fusion’s network, Electronic Arts is creating a cartoonish version of its popular “Battlefield” series in an ad-supported “Battlefield Heroes” and now IGA Worldwide has partnered with id Software o provide advertiser sponsorships and in-game brand integration for Quake Live (now in beta sign-up mode). The two companies announced the partnership at the Game Developers’ Conference in San Francisco.

Previously I would have classified the “Battlefield” and “Quake” franchises in the somewhat off limits category with the caveat that present-day and even near-futuristic releases such as in the “Battlefield” series have successfully had advertising, but “1942” and “Vietnam” would not work. Because these integrations are more Web-based in nature, they are primarily not in the game but around the game, the access screens and banners surrounding the gameplay screens. Of course that depends on the arrangement with the ad network and publisher.

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