PlayStation 3 Getting In-Game Ads Two Years After Xbox 360

Sony has some big news coming out today: The company will allow “dynamic” ads to be placed in PlayStation 3 games. The Wall Street Journal is calling it “a boost for what could become a significant new revenue source for games companies” while Forbes thinks Sony is “set to ignite the world of advertising in videogames…”

Interesting, since the Xbox 360 has been doing this for nearly two years now. At the time (back in 2006), the gaming industry seemed pretty excited at what looked like a new source of revenue. But not much followed in terms of details of how this was to be a game changer for advertising (lame pun intended).

Now we have Sony joining the party late (sound familiar?) and everyone appears to be excited again about the prospects of in-game advertising. Not surprisingly, Electronic Arts will be the first publisher to feature dynamic ads inside its PS3 games. Upcoming version of Madden NFL, Need for Speed, and NBA Live will be among the first to have changing billboards and specific soda cans used.

But some questions are still unanswered this time around. Just how much advertising will gamers tolerate after paying $50-$60 for the game in the first place? And some games, such as fantasy or role playing games, might not work well with Diet Coke and Mitsubishi. Ads in such games might seem a little weird and out of place.

Not much has been done in terms of market research on in-game ad tolerance levels. But then again, not much complaining has been done on the amount that has existed for the last two years. Whatever the case, here’s hoping ad agencies and publishers don’t abuse this new way of reaching their target audience. Of course, “abuse” is going to mean different things to different gamers.

*Update* Microsoft has a press release out which discusses positive results (both from the advertiser and consumer perspective) of market research on in-game advertising. Lots of good discussion here and here.

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  • http://www.techconsumer.com Paul Ellis

    Ads may not work in all games, but there are quite a few that they can work in (sports games, GTA, Playstation HOME, car racing games). Basically any game that takes place in a semi-modern day environment in a semi-developed country. You won’t ever see them in Metal Gear, Halo, or Final Fantasy though.

  • http://www.techconsumer.com Bob Caswell

    I guess what I wonder more than just “can it work” is the “how” and “when it is too much.” Are we going to start seeing the same kind of product placement we see in movies? You know, where all the good guys and bad guys use the exact same brand computer? That’s a pretty mild example, but it can get tackier and more annoying…

  • http://www.techconsumer.com Paul Ellis

    Honestly, I’m betting it will be just like TV and movies, where it will be fine most of the time, but there will be no shortage of ridiculous examples of in-game advertising. Dynamic product placement will actually be pretty complicated to do, and probably won’t happen much if at all. How could a game have the hero drive a Chevy one day and a Toyota the next?

    BTW, the good guys and the bad guys never use the same brand of computer. The good guys use Macs, the bad guys use really really bland looking PCs. Didn’t you get the memo? :)