Microsoft Touts In-Game Advertising Numbers
In a recent blog post, Microsoft ad guru JJ Richards points to several encouraging signs for the long-term viability of in-game advertising as a revenue model. He notes increasing time spent gaming by the public in 2009 versus 2008, the continuing shift in entertainment time and money spent toward gaming and away from television, and positive results in terms of the depth and retention of advertising messages from in-game ads.
This is yet another footnote in a trend that most of us are well aware of: Gaming is taking over as the dominant form of entertainment for significant portions of American society. The industry is rapidly maturing and evolving, and the powers that be (read: the people who control the massive amounts of cash that power multi-million dollar content creation, whether it be film, TV, or games) are doing everything in their power to stay on top of it. Today, that means growing awareness of and focus on in-game advertising.
As odious as the thought of "KillCam(tm) brought to you by MONSTER ENERGY(tm)!" is, in-game ad sales are only growing in their importance to publisher and developer bottom lines. Everybody has to be able to make a buck in order for a healthy and vibrant gaming industry to exist; that's how market incentives work no matter how many shrill posts are made on gaming forums about how sequels should be free expansion packs instead. Given that advertisers live and die by their messages being internalized by their audiences – which they rarely are when the advertisement itself is intrusive and irritating – we can be hopeful that a reasonably fair equilibrium will be reached.
It's hard to give some of the industry's more mercenary publishers the benefit of the doubt when it seems that every week brings a new forehead-slapping news story to light, but product placement hasn't ruined movies or TV (State of Play was terrible no matter the egregious Cadillac spot, and Nissan's ubiquitous presence in Heroes doesn't make the plot any more obtuse than it already is). Hopefully the gaming industry can maintain enough respect for itself that we avoid a worse fate.