On average, U.S. gamers play between three to four hours over a week, and heavy gamers devote 11 hour. The hours spent on gaming demonstrate how passionate gamers are about this pursuit, but that doesn’t mean they are averse to ads.
“We were pleasantly surprised by the acceptance of advertising if it’s done in the right, subtle way and helps to increase the gaming experience,” said Fran Kennish, director-strategic planning for MediaEdge:cia.
In fact, gamers say that advertisements even enhance the game experience when they help to create the alternate reality.
Advertising placements that mimic real-world ads, such as billboards in sports or racing games, are accepted by gamers because they are perceived to add to the reality of the game, according to the study.
“I’ve played many baseball games and have been a little upset every time Fenway Park is played; there is usually no Citgo sign. That Citgo sign has practically become synonymous with Fenway Park and the Boston Red Sox,” said one unnamed respondent quoted in the study.
Heavy gamers have the most positive experiences with advertising. Male gamers in particular claim ads make the game more realistic, especially if they help the player reach a certain objective.
“In ‘Metal Gear Solid 2,’ when you opened up the enemy’s lockers, you could see FHM posters inside [featuring] beautiful girls in swimsuits,” said a respondent, talking about ads enhancing reality.
But, the study cautions, “There is a delicate balance between enhancing realism and obstructing escapism.” In theory, all games are possible venues for placements, though sports and racing games lend themselves to the medium better. It is nearly impossible to place a modern brand in a sword-and-sorcery epic or a futuristic sci-fi game. “I’d hate to be playing some shooter set in 2275 and see an ad for a 2004 Jeep Cherokee,” said a respondent.
Another respondent pointed out that if the main character in, say, “Grand Theft Auto” remarks that he’d “‘never go out and kill someone without my Red Bull energy drink.’ That could ruin a game because it disrupts game flow.”
The bottom line? “If it’s subtle and fits in, it’s perfect,” Ms. Kennish said. “Anything else would not fly.”
The study was conducted through surveys on blogs and polled more than 250 gamers in nine countries.