When Advertising Goes Too Far

While product placement can be traced back to early movies and radio, the digital world we live in today gives companies ample opportunity to send us images of trucks we should buy, what computers we should use and even what movies to watch. While previous advertisements within movies and television could easily be ignored, it's now becoming more blatant, intrusive and becoming part of our gaming life.

Paramount Pictures and Massive Inc. recently launched the first in-game advertising campaign. This "game", which is included in Ubisoft's Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 from July 18th 2008 through August 25th 2008, is an advertisement for the upcoming movie Tropic Thunder. Gamers will get to see a series of nine clues in this scavenger hunt type game. Each clue will lead them to a new clue until they have completed the scavenger hunt.

Amy Powel, the senior vice president of Interactive Marketing for Paramount Pictures stated, "This innovative scavenger hunt enables us to reward our target audience and give them a direct call to action to go see 'Tropic Thunder'. We've had a track record of success working with Massive since the business started. This is taking our in-game advertising campaigns to the next level by making them interactive and actionable. Gamers are motivated to seek out the next ad, which is an amazing way for us to build awareness and excitement for our new release."

How far is too far though when it comes to advertising? With the release of this "game" within a game, we've reached that point. While the CEO of Massive, Cory Van Arsdale, believes this is "a new and highly innovative use of dynamic in-game advertising and really demonstrates the creativity and marketing power of this medium", the movie posters that appear throughout the game are simply an eye-sore, take away from what should be a great game and open the door for more direct advertising in our video games.

Do you feel product placement in video games is going too far? Does this open the door for game makers and marketers to create additional goals in future games to upgrade to the latest Reebok shoe or save Chester Cheetah to earn movie tickets? Let us hear your opinions!

Link: Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas 2

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*sigh* cant wait until its like the old DVD's where you spend $29.99 for a new release and are forced (by the hard-coding) to sit through 15 minutes of advertisements before you get to the menu. Yep, great times I tell you. Wont be playing any more tom clancy games thats for sure.

I understand how little things like billboards or ads on taxis driving by in a video game are typically okay. Creating a game in the game that is just an advertisement is insane. When I buy a game, I don't want to have to have my moving through the game depend on how I do in relation to a movie advertisement game. Make sense?

I am so totally against this and I think Ubisoft should be ashamed of themselves for letting Paramount and Massive do this.

nothing against product placement in games, it also get a little more of the "real world" touch... a tiny bit.
but this is not product placement, it's BS.
Go cheat sites, go!
that's for example when I'd say cheating is ok.

boycott such "missions" in games, or the whole game even!

Glassed Silver:mac

If I were to buy a game that had advertising in it, guaranteed that would be the last game from that company I ever bought!! Not to mention the nice, nasty letter I'd send them!

games like need for speed carbon or battlefield 24something, had real adverts. but they dont distract you much. they are fine a slong as they are intrusive where you have to spend time watching them.

I don't mind too much, but the next step is to force the user to play the ad based minigame in order to get something or even to finish the game. Either way it's a bad precident...

I don't think this is going too far at all. It's not like they're forcing you to do the scavenger hunt. So all that's left is billboards and posters that, if they weren't advertising something in real life, would probably still be there advertising something fake in-game. I like it better their way.

Not to mention most people probably won't notice the billboards if not looking for them. They're easier to block out than you might think.


If you hate the idea, don't buy the game!!!

You act as though the consumer has no power. Sooner or later developers get the clue: games with ads = low sales = bad while games with no ads = high sales = good.

Yet, most consumers will bypass this understanding and put up with the ads because the game is fun...which makes the developers say "see, people like ads in games - the sales are high."

People wont' ever boycott something in enough numbers to have any impact unless it has an effect on their day-to-day lives. Gaming isn't one of these things.

This sounds real annoying and will make the game seem dated when you go back and play it. Plus it must seem very tacky and unatmospheric to be doing this type of thing in a game. Would they be doing this in an RPG or platformer as well? Gah...

Are they turning to advertising movies in games because games based on movies are so horrible? I thought movie games did a good job of promoting movies in the first place... ah well... the whole thing seems annoying.

I don't know about others but for me, advertising is almost universally tuned out.
I use blocking addons in Firefox, don't pay attention/ignore billboards, turn my attention away from TV during commercials (or just laugh at them and don't remember what it's about later), and just don't care to notice in-game ads.

I don't have any issue with in-game "advertising" if they fit the setting. It's actually kinda cool when they add authenticity.

A scavenger hunt mini game to entice you to see a movie? BOOOOOOOO!!!!!

I, like many others, play games to escape reality, not to be reminded of it. In game advertising goes along the same lines as discussing politics or religion in game, simply not cool.

I'd much rather the game developers make up some silly parody billboards and posters to put in there game than having to stare at real life brand names. Hellgate London was smart and actually used the posters in the subway stations to display in game achievements by guilds and players, like which guild had the highest average level, biggest guild, most money, and whatnot.

has anyone got screenshots or something to see an an example? the only serious ads i can think of in an fps game so far is Bioshock, at one point you needed to know abit of info from one of the wall posters to know what to do next...

maybe the 'scavenger hunt' is more like achievements on steam and xbox live? like it ties into a movie being released soon, but otherwise its just as pointless... i mean, if you wanted to be unhappy and spoil the game for yourself you'd search on the internet how to get through the scavenger hunt and stuff

I have no problem with in-game advertising providing it is made to look like a part of the game. For example it can easily be done in sports games as there are loads of billboards anyway. I'm pretty sure Race Driver 3 did this as the billboards on a track seemed to be different occasionally. However from what I've heard, they are not designed to blend in at all in FPSs.

Meh. Let the gamers subsidize the software industry with adverts. They have all the money for the consoles and buying copies of the game. Pummel them with product placement ads, for all I care!

Just as long as Linux remains ad-free! :D

Oh wait... x)

I don't think so. This is all about increasing revenues. The cost benefits of doing something like this would never be passed onto the consumers!

It's awfully tacky because it's really never done subtly. The product placement always sticks out like a sore thumb. I think it could be done well, but we have yet to see that.

it depends. if "in game advertising" is like the old NetZero where you have some banner bar on your HUD; then yeah its too far. but using actual movie posters and billboards where there would have been fake movie posters and bill boards, is just good business. by adding this kind of additional revenue into the gaming market we can expect games to be given higher budgets with costs that are not passed to the customer.

personally, i dont have a problem with using real product placement in realistic locations. when they start going out of their way to add in copious amounts of bill boards and movie posters then we might have an issue.

Yeah, in Trackmania Nations Forever (A free F1 racer) you get billboards dotted around the place with real adverts. My mate only just pointed it out to me recently since I had no clue what the adverts were actually going on about and hardly noticed them anyway :laugh:.

But it's good that we can get these awesome free games due to the in-game advertisement and it's good that it's done in a non-intrusive way in this example.

This almost seems like a case of "too much," though. There's a mini-game that is built in that only tries to get you to go see a movie. What's next? Mario having to hunt down mushrooms and other pizza toppings from the missing Pizza Hut pizza? Sonic racing for Emeralds and the latest Nike Shoes?

A billboard or two is one thing, coding a mini-game just to advertise is another, imo.

Honestly, the worst part is that they're actively coding it in. It's not an afterthought, they know what they're doing as they do it. I hate blatant advertisements on TV and in movies, and invading games is just 100% suck.

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Since its a single server which serves Ads its easy to create a Vista firewall rule to block all requests to the server.