Designing and Applying Games Differently: Advertising

Posted: February 12, 2012 in INFR 2330

For a very long time, I personally always thought that games were simply games. Even if there was news about “video games” being applied in other ways, I kind of just looked away and continued with my narrow field of view that, simply, games were games. That’s it. Little pieces of entertainment.

Though, through a recent lecture, we took an approach at looking at games as art. After this lecture, it occurred to me that people a companies have been using games in so many different ways I never thought. I major way companies have been using video games is advertising, though I never really noticed. Now that I think about it, it is a growing place for advertisements to be placed in games.

Usually, in-game advertisements are small and not entirely noticeable. I never really considered these advertisements, such as the boards lining race tracks in Gran Turismo 5 or even the boards lining the soccer fields in the FIFA series. They just looked so natural to be a part of the scene, though I’m sure companies paid large amount of money to be placed into the games.

FIFA 10, advertisements for Toshiba and Fujifilm on boards

FIFA 11, where other companies did not want to advertise, EA advertised its own products and name. Need for Speed SHIFT billboard! 

Those these simple product placements never really changed the dynamics or mechanics of a game, they were simply a superficial layer of the aesthetics portion of the games. They took up room, and presented information unrelated to the game to players.

Now are there any games, where the game itself is an ad?

I thought for a while if there were any games where it was not just ads placed somewhere on the screen. Then I remembered several years back a company actually took an approach to create an entire video game as an advertisement for their company. Who was that company?

Burger King.

That’s right, Burger King was a video game publisher at one point. Back in 2006, Burger King released 3 games for the Xbox 360 to advertise their fast food.

  • Pocketbike Racer
  • Sneak King
  • Big Bumpin’
Some could say this is a shameless self promotion, but Burger King was actually pretty clever with these games. They hired the studio Blitz Games to create these games. Naturally, you would think the games would do terribly, as they were only around $4 to purchase from Burger King, but actually their score weren’t too bad!
  • Pocketbike Racer: 4.5 on IGN
  • Sneak King: 6.7 on IGN
  • Big Bumpin’: 7.0 on IGN
  • Average for all 3 games: 6.07
An average 6.07 rating for all 3 games is still pretty passable for a game that costs $4 and was made for a fast food franchise! These games show that games make a pretty effective medium to advertise through, a more interactive approach to target consumers.
For games that have the objective of shamelessly promoting Burger King, I think they did a pretty good job plastering Burger King everywhere while creating an advertisement that is actually enjoyable on a gaming platform.
Overall, I think Burger King did a pretty good job, straying from the typical advertisements and trying something new to get their brand out there. Games are finding more and more ways to be applied in today’s environments.
Check out the reviews on IGN:
Pocketbike Racers
Big Bumpin’
Sneak King

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