I recently ran across another article in Gaming Insider from a few weeks ago that interested me quite a bit. I opened the link just for the title, which mentioned Bioshock, which is my new favorite game to watch my boyfriend play (yes, I'll admit right now that I don't play much, but I am an avid game-watcher). Unfortunately, the article itself not only seemed to contradict later posts, but also just didn't make much sense. It talked about the emotional involvement that players get from games such as Bioshock, which deals with some pretty heavy topics, and how this will allow advertisers to better sell their products in-game. The article mentions how effective this strategy is in television programming, where people who are more deeply involved in the characters or story will come back week after week, and get exposed to more advertisements.
I have several issues with this train of thought. First of all, even though a truly engaging game may keep you glued to your television or computer for 20 hours or more, you are almost never being exposed to advertisements throughout the entire game, or even in regular increments, so no matter how invested you are in the characters, you may never notice some scattered ads.
Secondly, most hard-core games such as Bioshock and others in the RPG or shooter categories are not conducive to advertising at all. Most games in this general vein take place on other worlds or in different time periods where most if not all advertising would be seen as wildly inappropriate. Can you imagine a billboard for a new car in a Zelda game? Or even having that car to drive around in the game? No matter how invested you were in the character, that would be a big turn-off to most gamers, because no one likes to be advertised to that blatantly. Even ads that only appeared during the loading menus would likely only take people out of the game and make them care about it less. Ads are, with few exceptions, relegated to sports games, racing games, and casual online games. So unless a very good, realistic game that takes place in present-day comes around, this likely means that no matter how detailed and engaging these new games become, they will never be good marketing tools.
And lastly, because big hard-core games are not and have never really been good places for advertising revenue, it's more likely to be casual gaming that is going to be the big pull for advertising in the future. This is where the author of Gaming Insider contradicts himself. I would argue that when people are less involved in a game they are more open to advertising, and less annoyed when it is getting in the way of their game-play. Plus, there is no limit to what can be advertised in a casual game, where as ads in games such as Bioshock would have to be limited to products and styles that existed in the time period. Once again, and I know I sound like a broken record: Go casual games!