Nike iD Steps Into NBA 2K6

Upcoming video game NBA 2K6, from Take-Two Interactive publishing label 2K Sports, will take product integration a step further with Nike iD.

“It’s by far the deepest level of integration Nike iD has done with any company,” Matt Atwood, director of public relations at 2K Sports, told ClickZ News.

The shoe manufacturer will integrate its customizable Nike iD shoe line into the game. In the “24/7” streetball mode, gamers will take on virtual pros of the streetball tournament world. Each small court victory will grant the gamer his opponent’s Nike Basketball shoes, which can be stored in his Nike locker. From the locker, gamers can customize and personalize their shoes using the game’s 24/7 Nike iD interface, just like on the Web site. As in the real world, the gamer-designed shoes offer advantages like speed and agility in game play.

The in-game shoe personalization doesn’t translate offline, however. Gamers will still have to order their real-world kicks outside of the game. That may change next year, however, according to Nike spokesperson Trisha Burns. She told ClickZ News that next year’s edition may allow gamers to order personalized shoes using the game’s interface.

Development on the product integration aspect of 2K6 has taken about six months, but the two partners worked out a way to get shoe models into the game as they become available on the market. Codes will be distributed throughout the basketball season, which will unlock new Nike shoes and products. The code and assets will exist in the game’s software at launch, but only become available at the appropriate time.

Nike and 2K Sports will participate in cooperative campaigns on TV and other channels. In one promotion, 500 limited edition pairs of basketball shoes sold at Nike stores will come bundled with the game.

The shoemaker isn’t the only company to have its products integrated within the game. The replay mode in the game will be branded by Powerbar to promote its new Triple Threat bar. It will replay the action three times in succession. Gatorade will also be featured in the game with banners on the sidelines and on the announcer’s desk.

“There’s a ton of consumer products and consumer companies that want product in these games,” said Atwood. “They’ve got to add or enhance the game. It can’t be obtrusive to game play. It has to make sense.”

Nike believes advertising and product placement in games are a win-win for the company and for game publishers.

“Game companies want to work with Nike to make games authentic,” said Burns. “We want to work with game companies to deliver rich experiences with our brand that will improve game play. We think great games will inspire players to get and be physically active as well.”

Placement in 2K6 is not the only virtual venue for Nike. The company has integrated its products into a number of Electronic Arts games including NBA Live, FIFA Street, and NCAA Football. Sony’s Gran Turismo 4 also featured an unlockable car that carried the Nike brand.

“We want to continue to look at ways to engage consumers and inspire them to be physically active,” said Burns. “Games are a part of their life and offer some interesting ways to do this.”

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