The next generation of video game advertising

With Microsoft Xbox Series X/S and the Sony Playstation 5 set to release in early November – we’re about to enter the next generation of console gaming.

Boasting impressive hardware including SSD storage, with a greater focus on downloadable content and virtual reality technology, the latest offerings look to add further fuel to the digital revolution – one that has been intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lockdown measures and social distancing have caused video game spending to reach new heights. Digital bank Starling revealed that its customers spent almost 300 per cent more on Playstation and Nintendo in the week ending 5 April compared to the week to 15 March, before the lockdown was announced.

Overall, global gaming revenues are set to hit £125bn this year, overtaking books, music or movies. Companies are realising, and approaching in-game advertising at greater scale to take advantage of the fact that gaming is now displacing other traditional forms of entertainment. The worldwide gaming audience today includes 2.4 billion people, who spend more than 50 million hours a day playing video games, making it a natural target for big brand advertisers looking to connect with broader audiences.

In game advertising

From the Red Bull ‘power up’ in 2003’s Worms 3D to Burnout Paradise’s controversial inclusion of billboards promoting the 2008 Obama campaign – advertising and product placement in video games is hardly new. Since 1993, Fifa has been replicating the aggressive commercialisation of football within the virtual realm. To include the overabundance of leagues, teams, stadiums and thousands of players – EA Sports has to augment every official partner and sponsor to offset the cost of what is one of the world’s most expensive licensed entertainment products.

In recent years, dozens of advertisers and video game companies have invested heavily on advergaming campaigns. Fortnite included the Marvel super-villain ‘Thanos’ in their video game as a playable character in the Battle Royale mode – in response, the Disney-owned company promoted Fortnite in their box-office blockbuster, Avengers: End Game. Another example would be 2014’s Mario Kart 8, in which, Nintendo partnered with Mercedes-Benz to include their new GLA SUV as a playable kart.

Integrated advertisements

Blended in-game advertising platform Anzu and military-grade cybersecurity company CHEQ have announced a partnership to deliver the first-ever ad-verification solution for console gaming. This move enables, for the first time, the dynamic serving of programmatic ads integrated directly into game play, within a viewable, brand-safe and fraud-free environment. This provides brands access to premium games that have never displayed ads before.

With e-Sports overtaking traditional sports, it’s clear that gaming is becoming the most engaging medium for Gen Z. It’s clear to many big advertisers that the time to turn their attention to gaming is now, otherwise there is a big chance to lose out on an entire generation of consumers.

If the advertiser is looking for pure brand awareness, then in-game advertisements will deliver the objectives within computer or console games. Although in-game advertising in AAA titles will be unattainable for most advertisers, there are dozens of smaller, free-to-play titles which offer the possibility of in-game advertising.

The Future

With such innovations made, it’s clear to see that video game advertisements could one day become as commonplace as those in television, radio and print. We are already seeing many examples of how commercials can be integrated into gaming in a manner which enhances the gameplay experience.

At Cordis, we understand that innovation is integral to success. The pandemic has caused an unprecedented shift to the status quo, therefore it is important to embrace popular new platforms and use contemporary technology to engage the consumer. By employing augmented reality via Snapchat, we have been able to create unique gaming experiences – melding advanced CGI animation with a physical environment. This amalgamation has thrilled audiences and consequently boosted footfall for our retail clients.