Wednesday, October 31, 2007
NBCU Knows where the consumers are
The big news yesterday seems to have been that NBC Universal has teamed up with in-game ad vendor IGA. The details are that NBCU will now be able to offer clients inventory within video games that are represented by IGA. This includes positioning in games produced by prominent publishers like Activision and Electronic Arts as part of a comprehensive multi-media package. The partnership is seen as atypical for several reasons, including NBCU's traditionally television-heavy portfolio, and how young the in-game advertising industry really is.
A true sign of what early stages the industry is in is that everyone seems to want a piece of it, but no one really seems to know how to go about implementing it. "For example, Massive Inc., one of IGA’s top competitor, was snatched up last year by Microsoft, which has a far larger footprint in the digital space, while earlier this year online ad leader Google acquired the startup in-game ad firm Adscape Media." NBCU's interest in expanding it's portfolio into gaming is a good sign for in-game advertising firms, as it may be the first in a long line of advertisers waiting to get their messages out to a highly engaged and constantly growing audience of gamers.
However, while all these in-game ad firms are starting up and being bought by and partnered with huge corporations, I have yet to see a multitude of advertisements in my games. And as much as people keep assuring that they are coming, I still don't really see how. Despite all the new technology and amazing graphics that now exist that can make some truly incredible in-game advertisements, the same problems keep coming back. The games that people are interested in playing and developers are interested in making are not generally conducive to the presence of advertising. Many of them are not set in worlds or time periods in which these brands exist. Making a game that revolves around advertisements is a cute idea for a free internet game for as long as people still think it's a novelty, but they will tire of the idea soon enough, and advertisers can make all the games they want, but people will not play them. For all the articles I keep seeing about how big this industry is going to be, I'd like for just one of them to tell me how.