Product placement in movies is not the only strategy that marketers use to both educate and entertain the audience. The same products, services and brands have also established a strong presence in the gaming industry and it is nowhere near backing down.
The concept of advergaming is mixing both advertising and entertainment into video games where consumers can experience a virtual version of the brand from the privacy of their own home. Gaming systems like Second Life, Xbox, Wii and PlayStation offer consumers variability by integrating both real world and virtual world aspects into one hell of a good time.
But it is not just another way to entertain players. It is a way of repeatedly engaging and interacting with consumers on an active level with products and brands. Players in these niche audiences can ‘test’ these products in the virtual world and seek the real product in the real world.
One of the best examples of this is Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater video game. Hawk appears as the protagonist in the game and competes to perform the best tricks or have the best run in skating tournaments. The player has the option of even choosing from a list of skateboard brands, including BirdHouse, Huck Jam, Toy Machine, A-Team, Flip and Zero, among others.
Tony Hawk Pro Skater has also made its way into Xbox, where the evolving newfound digital entertainment lifestyle is keeping consumers on their toes. What these video games are doing, according to Bob Swieniek of Brand Packaging, are creating brand awareness and buzz that help promote the products. Gamers are becoming brand advocates from what they experience in the virtual world.
Brand awareness is not the only benefit of advergaming. According to the Entertainment Software Association, 42% of people who are active participants in the gaming world play online games one or more hours per week. Repeatedly engaging in a pleasurable manner with products and brands helps to increase brand recall.
The idea of advergaming can be applied to other industries. Gamers who own Wii fit for instance, can have the option of having their avatar try on different work out clothes from the brand being advertised in the game. As players explore the different brands and styles of work out gear, they are encouraged to go out and make a purchase out in the real world.
Then where is advergaming headed? One thing that is for sure is that advertisers and marketers now have the opportunity to maintain their focus on branding in these niche markets, which will also help them to cater more to the demands of their customers. However, corporations will also be competing with others to get their advertising spot in a particular game. Not only will companies be competing both in offline and online branding, but now there is also a whole other level to be playing in.