In recent years, we have seen the growing prominence of product placements within narrative media with nostalgia hits like ‘Stranger Things’ and their team up with Coco-cola. Have we understated the presence, and cultural impact, of product placement within video games? NBA 2K and the FIFA series (to mention only two) have successfully connected with brands to create some of the best harmonised advertising without having to waiver authenticity or fight for attention with other advertisers.
The ‘real-life’ experience offered by sports franchise games is heightened by the real-life advertisement that takes place, from trainers to endorsement deals. NBA 2k in-game product placement includes: Gatorade energy drink and trainer brands Jordan, Nike and Adidas – with which you are given the ability to dress your avatar. As the player progresses in the game, they are given the choice to pick brands with which to associate, altering what you and your avatar sees during your gameplay. This works by subconsciously creating brand infinity with the gameplayer, in a relevant context, further inclining the person to, for instance pick Gatorade the next time they finish a workout or a basketball game in their real-life activities.
In addition, gaming allows brand an unprecedented exposure time. As infographic report released by EA Sports shows that in FIFA14 during a single quarter, users played an accumulated 18 billion minutes, compared to a total 11,430 minutes played in total in the Premier league over that same period. With the 260 million+ units FIFA games have sold during its inception in 1993, you are able to connect with a massive and committed audience. Sports brands have noticed this, The Drum reported that the Vanarama National League – fifth tier in English football – filed a petition to be included in the game as a reflection of the commercial value they would stand to gain, including: in-game dynamic advertising as well as digital and social exposure.
However, for Non-endemic brands, the challenge posed is much different and so to the solutions. Nintendo have found that with the experience between virtual gaming and the real world blending with tech advancements; an opportunity to position their brand in the virtual world and become more culturally connected to a younger audience. Birthing the release of their latest project the Ring Fit (a game where you become the physical character in your living room and use motion sensors to move your character around) – a lesson for non-endemic brands to take heed.
So the next time you hear someone say ‘gaming is the future’ don’t let it pass you by, rather ask yourself what is your brand’s future in gaming.