There seems to be alot of controversy at the moment about various companies buying space in games to advertise their products. Considering that in 2005 roughly $56 Million was spent on advertising in video games, this subject is not one to be ignored easily. In this post I will explore the argument for and against in-game advertising and, at the end, deliver my personal opinion on the matter.
In-game advertising comes in various forms, from sports games such as the Fifa and Tony Hawk series advertising relevant sportswear to deodorant companies buying space in Splinter Cell. More recently, of course, is the appearance of Barack Obama in Burnout Paradise (pictured below) and seventeen other games.
Many gamers argue that the placement of products from the 'real world' breaks the illusion of a 'virtual world' that many games try so hard to create and therefore destroys the immersive aspect of gaming. For instance when playing SWAT 4 many gamers rightfully became annoyed when, lost in the moment and completely absorbed into the game's atmosphere, they were confronted with adverts for up and coming US television shows.
What's so good about in-game advertising then? Well surely the advertising companies are paying the game developers to place their products in the games, in theory that would mean that more money was being spent on the game meaning that the game would be better. These days it is also very difficult to get funding for anything, especially games so can you really blame developers and publishers for wanting extra money?
Furthermore, surely the more money invested on a game from outside influences the more pressure the developer has to make the game great? For example, if I knew that I had large advertising companies relying on my game to sell well then I would sure as hell make sure to make an amazing game. The more outside criticism and influence on a games' creation the better, right? It stops developers creating self-indulgent pieces that only they will enjoy.
Also, everyone else is doing it so it must be cool! Take films for example, when was the last time you saw a film that didn't contain product placement of some kind? Take every Bond film for example, nearly every scene has some kind of advert for Aston Martin, Rolex, BMW or (perhaps more obviously) MI6. Other films may not have even been possible had it not been for product placement, let's not forget the more than obvious placement of Red Bull in Snakes on a Plane and has everyone forgotten that 143 minute long FedEx advert?
Finally, we are surrounded by adverts nearly every waking hour of our day. Be it labels on clothes, pages in magazines/papers and even on websites like our very own Destructoid. Surely then, for certain games to fulfill their criteria of being 'realistic' they should contain as many adverts as possible. I believe that the screen below showing Times Square and it's virtual counterpart in GTA IV highlights this point clearly. Admittedly the adverts in GTA IV are all either spoofs of real ads or creations of the game developers, but if they were real adverts would it not highten the realism even more so?
My personal opinion is that in-game advertising is only annoying when it is abused or gets in the way of the game itself. Yes, if a can of Coke or a pair of Nike trainers appeared in Mass Effect or The Force Unleashed then I would, quite rightfully, be annoyed. But if whilst playing Burnout I stumble upon a billboard with Obama's face on is it really going to cause me to turn off the game and never play it again? I don't believe so.
Furthermore, what's wrong with the odd billboard in the background or logo on a shirt if it means that the game publishers and developers can keep making games? With internet piracy being at an all time high, game publishers must be finding it harder and harder to make money. Can we really blame them for finding it somewhere else?
This post was sponsored by Tesco. Every little helps
I was flicking through the latest edition of the UK satirical magazine Private Eye when I stumbled across this small cartoon that I thought I would share with you guys!
(Taken from Private Eye No.1209, 2nd May - 15 May 2008)
It appears to me that only the two-bit tabloids in the UK are against video games seeing as one of the country's leading political commentary magazines has recently highlighted just how ridiculous this argument really is.
Incidentaly I think this cartoon pretty much sums up our argument rather nicely. The gaming industry is not responsible for the violence on our streets; it is the fault of the thugs who are violent anyway, some people are just dicks.
I'm on tour playing bass for an up and coming female singer songwriter and have sprained my ankle because I'm a douche. I'm pretty much sofa-bound but "surely thats a good thing because you can just sit with a laptop and play games all day?" Therein lies the terrible, terrible problem...
...everyone on tour has MacBooks.
Normally I'd load up Steam and be set for the week but NO, I'm stuck with online flash games which are entertaining for a while but do lack the depth and immersive distraction of PC games. Roll on Saturday when the girlfriend comes and sees me and I am reunited with my laptop.
I'm currently playing N Online and the World's Hardest Game, any other suggestions?
Also, if you're into acoustic singer/songwriter music I really recommend checking Hollie (who I'm touring with) out:
First off, I have no experience in modding or even how to create a proposal so this post will no doubt be full of flaws that you can pick up on, I just thought that it was a kind of neat idea that might be quite cool if it was made. Thats the hater-covering spiel out of the way, here's the concept:
The basic idea of this game revolves around clashes between the public and the police in riots.
(Taken from http://www.thescore.ca/sixpack/Riot-cops-with-guns-Reuters2.jpg)
The concept of the game is a realistic fps, team-based game using control points on the map that have to be defended by the occupier and attacked by their enemy. The capture points would be very similar to the capture points in DoD:S and the Insurgency mod (units have to be on that turf for a certain amount of time which decreases if more units are on it and is blocked if an enemy is on the same point)
The damage would be realistic, for instance a few hits from a riot baton would render a rioter unconcious (or 'dead' for the sake of respawning purposes)
The game would focus on intense melee combat between the Police force and the Riot force.
Riot Force Objectives
The objectives of the Riot Force team would be to push the Police back to their end of the map by securing control points along the way. As each control point is secured, the Police's spawn point moves back further until they reach the Police station which can be heavily defended to create an exciting ending to each map.
Police Force Objectives
The objectives of the Police Force team would be to stop the rioters gaining ground and, if they did capture any control points, the objectives could be changed by the captain to regain the lost points.
Weapons would mostly be melee, with the exception of a few gun-type weapons. Projectile weapons would be iron-sighted.
Riot Force Weapons
Anything that the Riot Force could find on the ground or in nearby shops could be picked up and thrown at Police. There would be select pieces of piping, bricks, wood etc that could be used as a melee weapon (much like Condemned: Criminal Origins). However, if a rioter took out a cop, they could steal their riot baton etc.
Each rioter would start off with the weakest melee weapon and one bottle to throw.
Police Force Weapons
The Police force would be able to customise their weapons in the start up screen. The most common weapon would be the stun baton and shield which would be used together with a 'right click for shield left click for attack' concept.
The projectile weapons would be a couple of rubber bullet firing snipers or shotguns and 1 tear-gas grenade launcher per team.
Each police character would start off with a baton.
When a player joined a game they would be confronted with a team selection screen, enabling them to choose Police, Rioters, Spectator and Auto-assign.
When the player selected their team they would then be asked which Unit (for Police or Gang for Rioters) they would like to join. Much like in Insurgency, each Unit would have different weapons to select depending on the level. For instance, one Police Unit may be exclusively melee.
Once the player had selected which unit they wished to be in they could customise their character.
The rioters customisation would be mostly aesthetic.
When playing as the Police, you would be able to select what armour you wished to wear (altering the speed at which your character could move) and what combination of weapons you wished to carry. For instance, you would not be able to carry a riot shotgun and shield with baton together, if it came to melee fighting you would have to rely on fellow officers to defend you.
Using the unit command concept similar to Insurgency, one player per unit could issue orders to the rest of their unit.
Maps would consist of heavily built up urban environments such as city streets, shopping centers and housing estates.
There would be more than one linear way to reach each control point, such as back alleys, sewers or straight down the main route!
The Rioters would start at one end and the police would start at the nearest control point to them, immediately placing players into combat. This would also allow the Police to be pushed back by the Rioters. (Something would need to be done to account for spawning camping etc but this is just a preliminary idea!)
The final Police location would typically be the Police station which would be the final stand of the Police. It could also be any well defendable area of the map. This would allow for exciting final stands and skirmishes.
How are Rioters better than Police?
Could be more of them
Move faster due to less armour
How are the Police better than the Rioters?
Initially better weapons
Only the Police can issue orders to their units, the Rioters are too much of a rabble to allow this.
Further Ideas to Consider
Rioter versus rioter: The Police have to stop two rioting groups from attacking eachother in a three way large scale clash. Will the police join forces with one riot group or will they be raped by both riot gangs.
Recreating Historical Riots: Using accurate maps and perhaps changing the character skins, you could create re-enactments of existing riots. What about the Rage Against the Machine riot after they played outside the Democratic Convention 2000 Or riots in Ireland with IRA etc? Have to be careful here about pissing people off though!
Rioter Guns: It might be cool in integrate guns for the rioters such as haphazardly crudely made rifles, illegal handguns, sawn-off shotguns etc.
Anyway thats my idea, just thought it would be kind of cool to see made and if I had ANY 'mad 1337 skillz' at doing so I would probably give it a try.
Just read Anne Diamond's "chilling" review on videogame violence, a couple of things bugged me...
firstly WHAT IS UP WITH THIS PICTURE?!
(taken from http://img.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2008/03_04/diamondDM2703_228x378.jpg)
If you look at them closely, you can see that Dead Rising is actually floating through her right shoulder and the games in her left hand are floating THROUGH HER CHEST.
The only logical explanation is that she has been sent by Jack Thompsonbot 2000X in the year 2100 when games have been the cause of the destruction of society to eradicate all games today. But she's a ghost aswell...
Also, there is a picture of some kids playing video games as (presumably) an example of videogame violence since that is what the article is about.
Anyone recognise this game:
(taken from http://img.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2008/03_03/spoiltkidDM2203_468x326.jpg)
Yes, its MARIO KART 64, which is of course the epitomy of violence is video games. HAVE YOU NOT SEEN IT?! YOU DRIVE RECKLESSLY IN A CAR AND SHOOT HARD PROJECTILES AT AN INNOCENT PLUMBER.
It was so violent I puked.
EDIT: I just realised that the course being played in the above photo is in fact Toad's Turnpike and therefore promotes reckless driving on roads. Mario Kart is more fucked up than I first thought.