A Case of InGame Advertising Rockstar Games

Many advertising experts believe that these days it can be difficult to reach the coveted market of 18-34 year olds. Not only are many members of this demographic inherently skeptic of companies trying to sell to them, they do not partake in traditional media such as television, radio, and newspapers as much as their baby boomer predecessors. Today, many people of this age spend much of their time using other media types such as the web. TV commercials and newspaper ads just aren’t as affective as before with this group, so with this in mind, companies are increasingly turning to other, more creative forms of advertising.

One avenue that several companies are beginning to explore as an alternative is advertising in video games. With many games now being designed in a first-person format with a three dimensional simulated world, opportunities are plenty for things such as billboards, ads on the sides of trucks, and other virtual versions of real-life advertising outlets. Indeed, many ad agencies are seeing a move away from experimental budgets and toward real budgets stretching into the hundreds of thousands of dollars allocated to this new avenue.

At present, no company has been more willing to blaze this trail than Rockstar Games. With titles such as the Grand Theft Auto series, Max Payne, and Manhunt, this division of Take Two Interactive has been no stranger to controversy as it routinely pushes the envelope with its sometimes violent in-game imagery. But it is through in-game advertising that the company has helped revolutionize the advertising world with an additional avenue through which members of the younger generation can be reached.

One example of this is with the Rockstar’s “Midnight Club: Los Angeles,” released in 2008 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. A first-person racing game, this edition of Midnight Club provides the user the ability to drive around Los Angeles in a choice of several different cars and motorcycles. The game is ultra-realistic, with a day to night cycle, different weather patterns, and traffic patterns that mimic those in the real world. One of the companies that chose to advertise in this game is T-Mobile, as its Sidekick device is depicted as the in-car communication device. Players can use the device to get information about challenges in the game, or to communicate with other gamers currently playing in the multi-player version. As the sales figures of Rockstar’s games are routinely through the roof, T-Mobile can bet that this non-traditional media buy will pay off in a major way, as the company will undoubtedly reach many, many members of the coveted 18-34 demographic this way.

With more and more companies seeing this new advertising outlet as a viable alternative to more traditional media buys such as television commercials and newspaper ads, it is a sure bet that this form of advertising will only grow in size. Today’s younger generation is technologically savvy and an overall tough sell, and it takes creative solutions such as this one to reach this target market.


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