In game advertising also known as IGA is a marketing practice that places advertising inside of video games Must be something recent, you might think, but it actually has been around for a long time. The first known application was in 1978 where Adventureland included an advertising promotion for its next game Pirate adventure.
Since that time a lot has changed: improvements in technology have brought more devices with gaming capabilities such as smartphones and tablets. This has also grown the general audience of people who play games, growing with a steady 5 to 6% year on year.
With the growth of gaming, in game advertising has grown consequently alongside and is expected to continue expanding. The industry was valued at 6,71 billion in 2021 and it is estimated to grow to 12,32 billion in 2028.
The methods of in game advertising vary tremendously, many options are available. For example, branded items, billboards, character skins, pop-up videos or large scale events. Each option has its pros and cons, but the great thing is that it provides a choice to select the best option for a specific scenario.
The campaign and game were so successful that the product sold out halfway through the planned runtime and had to be cut short. Find the full success story here.
These limited time events were very unique and described by some people as ‘gaming history’. The most well known example is when the famous rapper Travis Scott held live events in Fortnite, which were attended by 12 million players. Everyone talked about it, leading to millions of views on YouTube and streaming platforms, countless news articles and social media interactions.
Product placements were also well received. For example, players had the chance to unlock an exclusive pair of Nike Jordan sneakers which their player model could wear and show off to others. When the new John Wick movie came out, the main character was playable.
Thanos the Villain of the Marvel Avengers movies was also playable, NFL team outfits were available so you could represent your favorite football team in the game. All these promotions were very successful and the beautiful thing is, all of these product placements fit in with the diverse world of Fortnite.
This level of in game advertising was never seen before and made waves with how well incorporated it was with the game. However, executing this level of advertising is very expensive and time consuming, something only recommended for sizable brands that have sufficient resources and budget.
2. Flop: Battlefield 2042
This triple A game was released last year and featured static display ads from Logitech which did not go well with the players. The original reception of the game wasn’t good, consumers expected a lot better from such a renowned franchise. By finding these in game advertising banners, people felt that more effort was put into making ads than producing a good game. As a brand, this negativity around your promotion is something you probably want to avoid.
Logitech is a brand that’s very popular with PC gamers for their peripherals such as gaming mice, keyboards and headsets. Likewise, the Battlefield franchise is also beloved among PC gamers, so Logitech did manage to target their audience with this game.
However, the banners in itself were not very creative and didn’t fit with the overall theme of the game. The game is set in the future year 2042, so why would there be a display ad about a gaming mouse that came out in 2014?
Could this have been implemented in a better way? Well, if the banner showed off a futuristic and imaginary mouse from Logitech in the year 2042, it would fit in with the overall context and actually intrigue players, a missed opportunity sadly. It was reflected by the public opinion, some online comments that were massively upvoted stated: “please tell me this is a photoshop” and “this makes me want to get rid of my Logitech G502 with it being advertised in such a broken game”.
3. Top: Rocket League
The very popular multiplayer game Rocket league is about playing football with a bunch of cars, so the creators had the genius idea of merging the worlds of Hot Wheels and Rocket League together to bring fans of one franchise to the other and vice versa.
Hot Wheels is a beloved toy car brand and the Hot Wheels cars perfectly fit with the world and style of Rocket League, the deal was described as a match made in heaven. Fans of both franchises were really excited and had a positive reception to Hot Wheel cars becoming part of the Rocket League game.
A year later Hot Wheels released a real life playset of the rocket league game via RC cars in a miniature stadium. This method of in game advertising and collaborating has proved to work very effectively, Rocket League has continued to draw other big brands to their game, most recently it announced a partnership with one of the most famous and legendary car brands in the world, Bugatti.
Another example is when Nike released a new football boot last summer, it went all out with promotion and part of that was a collaboration with Rocket League. It provided in game Nike branded items and hosted an invitational tournament with the best pro players and teams of Rocket League.
Side note: the campaign also utilized 3d billboards in London’s Piccadilly Circus to promote the collaboration, check our previous blog on 3D billboards to find out why they are so effective at grabbing attention.