Lord Maitreya's Internet Marketing Adventures

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Advertising in the video game world

Finally, a topic I can sink my teeth into.  I love video games.  I mostly enjoy role-playing and stealth games, but I like me some action, too.  My favorite IP’s are the Final Fantasy series from Square/Enix, and the Resident Evil series, which I grew up with (a joyous blend of action, puzzle-solving, and ZOMBIES!).  I remember when the Wu-Tang video game, Shaolin Style, came out for PS1.  It was part advertising and part game, with brand new exclusive tracks from the Wu-Tang clan.  Ahh, the memories.

While it’s no secret that the “Big 2” game developers (Activision and EA Games) have insane amounts of cash, it never hurts to get a little help by letting some advertising in your games.  Advertising in games takes many forms, and it’s getting increasingly more sophisticated.  I remember playing the first Splinter Cell game, and seeing “SoBe” vending machines during the CIA break-in mission.  Or how about playing the average racing game, where you select from a staggering list of licensed cars from real-world manufacturers.  Or playing Tony Hawk Or Skate, and seeing real products in the game from real companies.

Pictured: A Chevy during normal driving conditions

(Image courtesy of digitalbattle.com)

This is all well and good, but the world of in-game advertising has gone FAR beyond simply using licensed products and music.  Any way you slice it, people increasingly want games to reflect the world that we actually live in, so we feel less psychologically removed from the real world when we spend hours upon hours staring at moving colors that resemble real things.  Video games are kind of like a drug trip.  You spend hours seeing and interacting with stuff that isn’t there, and then you feel like you accomplished something while doing absolutely nothing.  Be that as it may, people love games, and advertisers are taking notice.

While it’s true that many games utilize a lot of the same advertising techniques that work in the real world (in-game billboards and stuff like that), some companies are taking in-game advertising in some interesting new directions.  I’m going to tell you about one that my buddies go on and on about in the shockingly popular game, World of Warcraft (which will be referred to as WoW from now on)… ordering food in the game.

(Image courtesy of worldofwarcraft.com)

Yes, that’s right.  Blizzard Entertainment knows that you’re too lazy to get off your ass and GET food, so they’ve partnered with Pandaren Xpress (not to be confused with Panda Express) Chinese food restaurants to allow you to order food from the game, online, WHILE PLAYING.  Seeing as how, in WoW, some quests, called Instances, can take up to TWELVE HOURS to complete, chances are you’ll need to eat at some point.

Oh, and when I say it takes twelve hours, I don’t mean that you’re just passively walking around for that time.  Oh no.  You’re usually with up to twenty other people, fighting hordes of creatures for a WHOLE DAY.

Anyways, all you have to do is type in /panda in the in-game console, and an in-game ordering system pops up, allowing you to quickly select your meal, at which point the nearest Pandaren Xpress restaurant to your IP address will prepare it and then deliver to your home.  Domino’s pizza has a similar deal going on, where you can order pizza from in the game.

As this example shows, companies aren’t simply content with you SEEING their product in a game.  Some companies are actively creating associations between themselves and these virtual worlds.  While Pandaren Xpress has absolutely nothing to do with the goings-on in WoW, players can easily order food from in the game, and become consumers of products BECAUSE of video games.

All I can say is…. wow

April 17, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment