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Wavinator

Would you design product placement into your game?

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Wavinator    2017
"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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ghosted    445
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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Feral    166
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   
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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JohnBSmall    881
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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sunandshadow    7426
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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Thermodynamics    443
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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Gyrthok    412
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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nuvem    326
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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EricTrickster    142
I'm definitely opposed to the "knock the competition" aspect of it, but I'm not opposed to product placement in general.

I would definitely use the product in a positive light, but making the use of the product option - I don't want to, say, force gamers to buy Pepsi, but I would offer up Pepsi as a limited powerup, or as a fun item. Drinking a Pepsi might cause your character to break out in a dance, and force a short jingle/light show. I might have them as easter eggs, avoiding the direct advertising but offering a "reward" for players. If I can get a coupon tie-in (something I've looked into with another product), even better. Find the pepsi can, get a free pepsi! Stuff like that.

The key is keeping it optional. I don't want to feel like I'm having a product literally shoved down my throat.

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EricTrickster    142
Quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
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.


I had a similar thought about up-and-coming artists - I wanted to have character renditions of the band/artist playing their actual music in virtual clubs, or have their songs on a jukebox you could play.

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Adraeus    306
"Product placement" is misleading. A product can be a tangible good, an intangible service or benefit, or a company. Remember: games are products too. In this case, I prefer the term "co-branding" since that term effectively describes what happens when a product (game) promotes another product.

A rational decision regarding co-branding is a business decision and is ultimately dependent on a number of variables related to strategic branding, identity and the business environment, preferably well-forecasted for the product's (game's) lifecycle, which may vary according to the design of the game. For example, multiplayer games, whether massively so or not, have extended lifecycles while most single-player games remain profitable briefly. [Perhaps a year or less?]

Co-branding is an extensive subject which is often misdescribed primarily due to the widely held misconception that a brand is a logo or a product. A brand is neither. A brand is the general perception of a product; thus, branding is the act of manipulating the general perception of a product for whatever purpose. Therefore, co-branding is the act of manipulating the general perceptions of products for whatever purpose. Co-branding is often extremely rewarding despite what critics may think about advertising. [Imagine promotion of your game on a Coca-Cola bottle. To say the least, the Coca-Cola brand is favorable, and through association of your game with Coca-Cola, the general perception of your game is bettered.] In the big leagues, co-branding occurs not just with products in-game, but also with products pre-game and post-game. When the NVIDIA logo animation plays before the player is introduced to the main menu, that's co-branding. When the developer and publisher's logos are displayed, that's co-branding. Clearly, co-branding works and is beneficial.

The bottomline: co-branding is good. :)

However, there are creative issues which must be resolved before co-branding can even be considered.

Problem: Would my product benefit from co-branding?
Resolution: Yes, but only if certain conditions are met.

1. Identify a need for co-branding using existing organization and product marketing strategies, market research, and the current and forecasted business environments for the product's lifecycle.

2. If a need exists, identify products appropriate for the context and content of your game. Starbucks worked in the Shrek world due to the humor aspect. Taco Bell worked in Demolition Man due to the future aspect. Fantasy allows many co-branding opportunities. Some genres do not.

...

My fingers are running out of breath and my stomache is growling at me for not feeding it. I think I'll stop here. I hope the above helps this discussion... especially a little more towards the positive side.

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superpig    1825
I think, if product placement - or co-branding if we'd rather - is going to be in the game (and it's the kind of decision that, in my experience, gets handed down from higher up rather than one I get to make myself), then it definitely should be in the design from as early on as possible. Otherwise you do end up with something incredibly jarring because you were forced to throw in a giant billboard at the last minute. If you know you need to feature a particular brand within the game to a certain extent, you can design for that from the very beginning, build it into things etc such that it's prominent but not out of place.

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EDI    3679
As far as I am concerned in-game advertizement is okay if the game is free,

once somone is paying for somthing there is no longer an 'excuse' to use ads.

on the whole though, if the new trend in games starts to be branding *i think it just might* then I for one will not be happy, it is one of the main reasons that I dont watch TV.


Because, and correct me if i am wrong, making games is not about making Gajillions of dollars.

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JohnBSmall    881
Quote:
Original post by EDI
Because, and correct me if i am wrong, making games is not about making Gajillions of dollars.

It can be. Certainly, some people make games because they think of it as an art form and want to express their ideas, or because they like playing games and want to make games that they'd like to play, or for some other non-monetary reason that you might think of. But there's nothing wrong with making games to make money, any more than there's anything wrong with making anything else to make money.

And if none of the funding comes from putting a few billboards in your game environment, or texturing your health pickups to look like coke cans, then that money just has to come from somewhere else (for example, from the consumer).

I'm against intrusive advertising - I generally don't like adverts on TV, because they're intrusive - but I'm (personally) not going to care if you stick a few logos in your game textures. Just don't shove it in my face and force me to think consciously about it, and I couldn't really care less. (having said that, as per my previous post, if it doesn't fit the setting of the game at all, then putting it in at all will make me think about it, and so I might get annoyed at it)

John B

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Telastyn    3777
Argh, I hate that stuff. Hell, I think that the government should prohibit sale of naming rights for publically funded structures [or require they be named after a person, not a company] which is much more reasonable than game product placement.

Still. If the amount of income would allow me to make a game that otherwise wouldn't be made [either that game, or a future game] I'd probably go for it. I wouldn't expect my customers to like it though, and generally think that sort of propoganda is offensive.

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Adraeus    306
Quote:
Original post by EDI
Because, and correct me if i am wrong, making games is not about making Gajillions of dollars.
Like many ventures, the primary purpose for game development (read: product development) may not solely be to turn a profit; however, there are issues of time and money. Do you want to work in another industry on unrelated products to secure your livelihood? Or do you want to secure your livelihood while doing something you love?

"The man who does not work for the love of work but only for money is not likely to make money nor find much fun in life." -- Charles M. Schwab

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Coz    169
I would as long as it doesn't hurts the experience or adds some. But how much would I tie it to the gameplay is highly dependant on the product and the game; I don't want to brainwash addicted gamers into thinking that coke is almost necesary for survival but if it's an adult sexual game I would probably promote condoms as such :p

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Benjamin Heath    925
Personally, I'd rather like to see a GTA-like game that involves blowing up McDonald's and Taco Bell, where you actually see the products, logos, and slogans of all these real companies. The bosses could be Bill Gates (of course), Warren Buffett (with his Geico gecko as a sidekick), and maybe the resurrected zombie of Dave Thomas (with his army of Hot 'n' Spicy Chicken Fillet minions and his Chocolate-Frosty-spewing shotgun). The final boss, of course, would be Ronald McDonald and his cult of hamburger-loving cretons.

Maybe I'm just a goof. [rolleyes]

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Garmichael    115
ive put some thought in including product placement for MMORPGs as a means to cut the price down for the players per month. Suppose an online GTA game where you have to eat. The only resturaunts in town would be Subway and you were forced to eat sub sandwiches and chips to stay alive. If one million people played, thats a pretty decent market group. subway would pay X amount of dollars and that money would be taken off of the pay-per-month, wich would attract new players to the game, and subject them to the marketing. It'd also increase the odds of a player resubscribing each month to play. If the cost was only $4.99/mo and was a game that was just as fun/addicting as MMORPGs that cost $14.99/mo, then that $10 per player would influence alot of people.
Sure, some people would complain about the product placement, but if they're playing a game thats only $5 a month and they enjoy it, I doubt they could really say much about how its a bad thing.

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If nobody has suggested it before, then I am going to suggest a hollywoodism. You many not be able to avoid product placement in your game. There will be exceptions, realistically, like a coke billboard in a medieval rpg and other clear cut cases of working against each other, but there are a lot of smart producers, and in the game business as well, smart publishers, who in fact, know that product placement and detraction from the gameplay experience are not always going to bump heads.

And, publishers, always with an eye on revenue enhancement, and designers, more often than not with the exception of the few superdesigners celebrities out there, may simply have more clout than you in the argument against your opposition to product placement.

Usually, some fair and balanced bias is found, and if a reasonable product placement, in the time, place and circumstance relevant to the setting, activity and motif of the level in which the gamestate currently is running, you are going to have a hard time arguing against it. But, I was raised by a purist artist, rather famous for her artistic masterpieces and seminal innovation, so I am sensitive to where you purists are coming from. I personally think that it can be worked out so both design and commerce can be satisfied, and I think a lot of budding designers ought to glean from this suggestion of mine that this is how the business world often can work.

Adventuredesign

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Adraeus    306
Garmichael, an advertising-supported (do not read: ads everywhere, spam, popups, etc.) MMOG would require no fee since the attraction to promoted items gained would be well-worth the advertisers' investments. There are many examples of products which are fairly profitable at zero expense to users.

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Ravyne    14300
I think there are a few key things to pulling this off with some integrity.

1- Ads should be unobtrusive and optional:
a. Most importanly- Do ads make sense within the creative context of the game?
b. Players have the right, if they so choose, to not view the adds if they payed for your product. Players who do not view adds, are not entitled to the direct benefits below.
c. In addition to "look and feel" in-game ads should be no more intrusive than real-world equivilants.

2- Ads must be benefitial to the player, either directly or indirectly.
a. Direct benefits: Players given in-game currency for exposure to ads, Lower purchase price / subscription fees, etc.
b. Indirect benefits: Funding of additional (FREE) content, etc.

3- Ads must not go against the "look and feel" of the game:
a. Maybe set up an "ad agency" responsible for working directly with the client's agency to develop ads which suit both parties.


I think that if a game were to follow these few things no one would really mind. Theres always going to be the extreme few that won't accept it under any condition, but making it optional will reduce the size of this group... Now you have to be carefull not to punish non-ad players, eg - if an add viewing monthly fee is $4.99, the non-add version shouldn't be $14.99, $9.99 might be reasonable. Even if the ads are pulling in $10.00 per player per month it should be spread a little more evenly... If the majority of players view adds it won't even make that much difference in cost to ad-viewing players. Say $6.99 with ads and $9.99 without. As with a lot of things it boils down to ethics and treating the players fairly.

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