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Wavinator

Would you design product placement into your game?

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"So, what happens here is there are two ways to get health regens while your shootin' the zombies. You can get Pepsi, which triggers stunning music, controller vibration and a glow effect on your character; or you can get Coke, which provies 1/2 the health and makes your character sluggish... This feature's yours for a mere $75,000." So, if you could fit product placement into your gameplay, would you do it? I don't mean as billboards, as some games do, I mean in ways that promote the virtues of the product and make their competition look inferior. And how deeply would you imbed it into the gameplay? As something they need, something they can optionally use, or something they can't live without? How would you handle the issue of creative integrity versus the notion of "selling out?" Or would you laugh all the way to the bank? Personally, I think I'd have no problem taking the I-ROBOT movie approach if it fit with the game. The rationale would be that these companies exist, these companies could make it into the future, and it therefore adds to the realism of the game. My friend thinks it would be shameless pandering. Where do you sit?

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If something can be done to increase the developers funding without sacrificing the integrity of the design then go for it. In fact, bringing some real worl content to your game could even help the immersion as the player recognises products. There was an article on this in the latest Edge magazine. In that they mentioned some games like Worms 3D which actually used Products as a replacement for things like a health boost.

As long as the product doesn't come before the implemntation then I see no problem with it. In fact, there's plenty of scope for this stuff. Imagine a game like Deus Ex where you're to meet your informant at the local Starbucks and order a Triple Latte Creamy Uber Caffeinne Monster to make contact.

Having said that, invariably with these sorts of ideas, somebody gets it started and then things begin to get out of hand. I get the feeling we'd soon get swamped with advertising. So, in conclusion, I'd say it's a great idea but I'd rather not see it implemented for fear of where it would eventually go.

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Isn’t that example just asking to get the Coca-Cola people really mad at you ?

Meaning it seems like a viable revenue stream but might well come with unwanted extras.

What? Me paranoid?

Charles N. Pogue
Henry T. Moray

History has shown that it is prudent to be yes?





That aside, I’m not to keen as a player to be bombarded by yet more advertisements for crap that I don’t want don’t need and live very nicely without, thank you very much.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Advertising is already running rampant. I hate it.

But for the right price I'd put it in a game if I had control of it, i.e. I could use it without interference from the advertising company (which I doubt would happen).

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Depends on the setting of the game, as usual. As you said, these corporations do exist, and they may make it into the future; if your game is set in an environment where it seems reasonable that these products could exist, then sure, put them in and get paid for it. I don't have a problem with that. On the other hand, if the setting is wrong, then you shouldn't bend over backwards to find places where things could be fitted in.

If your setting is the world as it is today, or only a few years in the future, I think it'd actually be a bad idea not to include any of the big name corporations, and if you can get extra funding by putting them in, then go for it.

Making them too integral to gameplay probably isn't a good idea under any circumstances (imho), although I guess it's not that big a deal - just, as before, don't bend over backwards to fit them in. If you want to put the Palm text and logo on a PDA that your character uses all the time (as in Splinter Cell), then go ahead, but don't shove it in the player's face - the product names should never be thrust into the player's consciousness; the game is always more important.

John B

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Well, I wouldn't do it like your example because it's too intrusive, but if I had a friend who was, say, starting their own clothing line, I could name a clothing store in the game the same as their store and use their clothing designs.

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If I was going to have product placement in a game, I would want it to be very much in the background, similar to the way movies do product placement.
With your Pepsi idea:
First never, never, never say bad things about a product which presumably half of your players like. It is fine to say all the nice things you want about product A to me. Since I don't like A (B is much better), I will roll my eyes, but keep playing your game. If on the otherhand you tell me that B is awful and it will decrease my stats, I will be annoyed. No one tells me that B doesn't taste good. I know better. I stop playing your game and tell all of my friends what a total ripoff the game is.

Now that we got that out of the way--
I think it would be more effective to not come right out and say "Drink Pepsi! It's the greatest!" That is what your idea for increasing health with a "Pepsi" does.

A much more effective method (in my opinion) would be to drink a "Pop" (or soda, or bubbly, or fizzy, or whatever your region calls it) to regain health. Then when you select it, the graphic shows a Pepsi can. When you hold it in your hand you can see that it is a pepsi. Just don't come right out and tell me that Pepsi will give me my health back.

In other words, please sell out, as it will give you a means to complete the project, but keep the product placement in the graphics, as a backdrop instead of focusing on them. Any time you focus on a certain product, you will lose part of the audience that does not agree.


Some other possibilities for product placement:

Chevy symbol on the dash or front of land vehicle

Nike swoosh symbol on shoes

Intel inside symbol on your AI

Mail system is ups

Be sure to look for smaller firms as well. They may not have the vast resources, but if you can show them a product, you are much more likely to be able to talk to them yourself.

Oakley glasses

Meijer Supermarket

Ugh... I can only think of big complanies right now.

Every object in the game could possibly be a product placement (I wouldn't reccomend doing every object though). At most I would do 5 product placements. MOre than that and you start looking like a sell out.

G'Luck

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TV comercials, add placements in television shows, sitcoms, movies, billboards, radio stations, Pop-up windows. Frankly, i'm bombarded with so much adverstizing spam that i'm utterly amazed that it doesn't sleeze its way into games, then again games are products in themselves. I think i generally agree that it would be a bad idea to put product placements into games. Yes it can be a good source of income, so if you must just don't make it blatantly obvious like drinking it for health, Thermodynamics recommendation is a good way to go. You could also examine other games and see how their product placements worked out (Parasite Eve 2 had a coke bottle cap you have to collect to do one of the puzzles, subtle but effective, even though i greatly perfer Pepsi).

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I'm with Thermo on this one. Product placement should be somewhat concealed, but still there. A perfect example of how to do it right was Shrek 2... lots of little product placements, but they weren't shoved in your face, in fact, once you saw a couple, you started looking for others.

If a game suggested I go to "starbucks and order a mochalaiteemegachino", I'd be annoyed. On the other hand, if it told me to meet a contact at the coffee shop on 15th, and there just happened to be a Starbucks there, that would be fine.

Of course, this only works on games that take place on earth, centered around humans, and in time from the present on. For almost everything else, I think it would only damage the game to squeeze in product placement (some games, especially humourous ones, could squeeze a couple in).

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