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!