What's Hot With Gamers

Violence -- and Not Many Advertisers -- Mark Most Popular Titles

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YORK, Pa. (AdAge.com) -- What video game will be in your stocking? Check the list below. Market researcher BrandIntel culled the web for discussions and chatter, and, using a proprietary formula, crafted a list predicting the hottest next-generation video games. We've added marketing and advertising to the mix because, well, that's what we do, but also because in-game advertising is garnering marketers' attention.

While in-game ads attracted only $56 million last year -- and there aren't many advertisers in the games listed here -- Yankee Group estimates that will shoot to $732 million by 2010. Especially likely to grow, analysts say, is dynamic advertising in which ads can be swapped in and out through a web connection.

Gears of War (Microsoft)
Marketing: The game got its own TV spot as part of this year's Xbox 360 holiday push. McCann Erickson created a stylized ad with dramatic music to draw in nongamers and gamers alike.
Marketers in the game: None. Chainsaws and ex-prisoners don't exactly make for a Coke and a smile.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Nintendo)
Marketing: This is the first time a Zelda game has launched alongside a new console, so faithful Nintendo gamers are buzzing about this fantasy-adventure game starring elf-hero Link.
Marketers in the game: None

Madden NFL 07 (Electronic Arts)
Marketing: The No. 1-selling sports title launched in August with a "Maddenoliday." Execs took over Madden, Miss., and handed out free games and Xbox 360s. Marketing included a TV/radio/online campaign and TV specials.
Marketers in the game: Snickers, Sprint, Motorola and the NFL

Halo 3 (Microsoft)
Marketing: Halo's on-again off-again movie -- to be produced by "Lord of the Rings" director Peter Jackson -- helped it top chatter charts even without a set launch date. Expect this game to garner lots of attention; "Halo 2" had sales of $125 million.
Marketers in the game: Unknown

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (Activision)
Marketing: The traditional ad campaign included a prime-time network-TV buy. Also, a buzz-marketing push let a limited number of people download extra features.
Marketers in the game: None. The game isn't a good fit for advertisers, an Activision spokesman said.

Fight Night Round 3 (Electronic Arts)
Marketing: The only -- and undisputed best -- boxing game on the market doesn't need a lot of pumping, but EA partnered with "man" brands such as Schick Quattro and Under Armour for promotions and giveaways.
Marketers in the game: Burger King (the King himself can appear as your trainer), Dodge and ESPN

Call of Duty 3 (Activision)
Marketing: Activision teamed up with Best Buy and Spike TV for a promotion called "Game Head: Call of Duty 3 Challenge," choosing 16 "recruits" for a reality show that aired in November on Spike TV.
Marketers in the game: None. A World War II shooter game isn't the best place for U.S. products.

Assassin's Creed (Ubisoft)
Marketing: Unknown, but web buzz and gamer chatter is already intense. This first-edition game has garnered award after award for realistic movement.
Marketers in the game: Unknown, but it's set in 1191 during the Third Crusade, so it's unlikely present-day marketers could find a logical connection.

Resistance: Fall of Man (Sony)
Marketing: Sony's exclusive PS3 game has been compared to Microsoft's exclusive "Gears of War" (see above), and its role as a launch title will become even more important when PS3s are in more plentiful supply.
Marketers in the game: None

Tony Hawk's Project 8 (Activision)
Marketing: Tony Hawk's real-life skateboarding tour, Boom Boom HuckJam 2006, is sponsored by the Activision game as well as in-game advertiser Jeep for a double-whammy promotion.
Marketers in the game: Jeep, Nokia, Powerade and Quiksilver
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