We discovered, not so long ago, that adding a few billboards to a racing game
, or having a character break open a Coke machine to snag a few hit points, represented some big money for game companies. But what may well represent even bigger money is the converse: we've seen ads in games, and now Sony has just issued a patent to take advertising and turn it into a big game.
The basic concept goes like this: Sony has developed technology to use its hardware--the PS Eye, the Move, the Durashock, and the microphone--to interact with advertisements
in such a way that the ads present what amount to mini-games. While the ad is running, users can play a game within the ad itself. One such example provided in the patent itself was using a Move controller to select a large button labeled "Buy" to order a pizza, and a second required a user to say the word "McDonalds
" to end a McDonald's commercial.
For those trained in marketing, as I once was, opportunities start popping up in this particular concept like weeds after rain. One, a welcome treat for users would be the ability to zip through commercials by speaking the name of the advertiser. Imagine a commercial break that lasts as long as it takes to say "Ford! McDonalds! Florida Orange Juice! Dave and Busters!". Users would enjoy the ability to move through commercials that quickly, but at the same time, advertisers may well find it welcome it themselves as it increases the amount of engagement in the advertising. While under normal circumstances, ads just slip on by, part of the background clutter people have come to accept from life, such advertising would require users to interact with them in order to dismiss and get back to their desired show. Additionally, advertising games can incorporate discounts for products upon completion. For instance, shooting a hundred pizzas in Pizza Hut Pepperoni Madness or the like could result in a 10 percent discount on the next order. Just to make it complete, the discount could be redeemed immediately, in the commercial itself, for an order placed that minute.
Of course, the fullest realization of this technology will require universal broadband with a high or nonexistent cap, so seeing this kind of thing may take a while to get to us. Still though, putting advertising in games was a pretty sharp idea. Putting games in advertising, meanwhile, may prove to be even sharper.