Now that we know Massive could be valued at up to $400M, I think it’s high time I launch my own startup to take advantage of the in-game advertising market. I’ll be calling it either “Gigantic” or “Enormous”, or maybe “Ginormous”. And I won’t actually have proprietary technology or an ad-sales team. I’m just going to think of neat ideas for in-game ads, then sell those ideas to the highest bidder. Given the current market conditions, “Edery Ginormous, Inc.” should be worth at least a mil, wouldn’t you say? :)
And, lest I be accused of empty posturing (or wasting your time, though it’s probably too late to avoid that), here are some of my ideas for in-game ads. The key to these ideas is: A) they all “fit naturally” within the game’s environment, B) they reinforce the advertiser’s brand message in some way, C) they do not distract the player from the fun; rather, they are part of the fun.
- When a SimCity town hits population 5,000 (or whatever), a Starbucks or McDonald’s should appear in the center of town. This fits the very common American perception that a town becomes a “real” town when it gets its first fast food restaurant. Even better: have a second Starbucks open across the street from the first one when the town hits 15,000. ;) I proposed this idea in an article I wrote a few months ago; it remains one of my favorites. It works even better if lots of brands are built into SimCity; after all, real cities are overflowing chain stores; featuring just McDonald’s or Starbucks would feel strange.
- In any FPS featuring giant insects (or insect-like aliens), one weapon could be a can of Raid, the spray of which is ignited by the player with a cigarette lighter or something. Not only would it be fun / amusing for the player to flamethrow bugs, but it reinforces Raid’s brand message perfectly. The Raid marketing team simply needs to resist the urge to demand ham-handed visuals; the mere presence of the can (and a clear label on it) would suffice.
- In Stubbs the Zombie, the main character could heal himself (i.e. close wounds or reattach limbs) with Scotch Tape. This only works because Stubbs is an intentionally humorous game, of course. The brand reinforcement: “gets you out of jam”, “reliably sticky”, etc.
- An FPS mod (as opposed to stand-alone game, or placement in-game) featuring armed Ford vehicles – Mustangs would move the fastest, F-150 pickup trucks could carry the greatest amount (and variety) of ordnance, etc. Bonus to Ford if it develops this by publicly releasing the necessary art assets and staging a competition; winner gets a free Mustang (and perhaps an entry-level design job working for the company that develops the FPS?)
- How about reverse-placement: World of Warcraft figurines in McDonald’s Happy Meals? Perhaps the winner(s) of a really important global WoW event could be rewarded by having their avatar(s) immortalized this way? I should admit that i don’t actually know how many children play WoW; this idea might need to wait for a future MMORPG that is incredibly popular with children age 10 and below.