Saturday, May 3, 2008

They're everywhere! Part 3

(please read parts 1 and 2 below before reading this)

Speaking of product placement, with the rise of video/computer games as a viable entertainment and storytelling medium, there's no surprise that third party companies are wanting to use them to hawk their products. Video games are especially appealing to those companies because they can easily target specific demographics.

However, product placement in games is not a new thing. Back as far as the days of the Nintendo Entertainment System, we had an entire game that's one big freaking advertisement. It's called Mc Kids, and it features none other than Ronald McDonald and his "friends" like the Hamburglar, that big furry purple thing, the weird duck-like demi-human girl, and I don't remember who else. It was a platformer in the vein of the Mario Bros. series, and it kind of really, really sucked.

Later on, we were treated to another big $50 cartridge of an advertisement, Cool Spot for the Super Nintendo. Yup, 7-up wanted to cash in on this newfangled video game thing and placed its contrived mascot, that red dot in the 7-up logo, into his own game. He was basically a small red disc with arms and legs who wore really cool shades. Yeah, he was cool. So cool that "cool" was in his name! Anyway, that game was actually not bad. But like Mc Kids, it was just one giant advertisement for a food franchise.

If you know of any others, please let me know.

More subtly, we have signs, labels, billboards, decals, and actual objects placed in games to make the player aware of a certain thing. Sometimes painfully aware, literally. In the highly acclaimed NES game Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, there parts of the game where Foot Soldiers hid behind large Pizza Hut signs and pushed them down onto the turtles as they walked by. The game itself even came with a coupon for Pizza Hut pizza. Wow.

Many sports games nowadays have ads from sponsors of the actual organization. For example, all the companies that sponsor NFL football, whose ads you normally see when you watch a pro game, appear in the latest Madden games for XBox 360 and Playstation 2 and 3.

I don't know where it goes from here, but product placement in games is catching up to (and may be surpassing, for all I know) product placement in movies and TV. But you know what? That doesn't really bother me. We'll see what happens in the near future.

My view on this is that product placement doesn't bother me, but unskippable commercials or ads that appear in front of what I'm reading or watching, forcing me to click to remove them, are unacceptable.

By the way, the title of this post is based on what these little guys from Halo scream when you attack them. Halo, to my knowledge, has no in-game product placement, but I could be wrong.