Microsoft patents playable advertising with ‘Advertars’

Oh Microsoft, you and your wacky patents! Hot off the heels of discovering that Microsoft has patented squad-based dynamic co-op, the Internet has also found out that Microsoft has reserved the right to produce advertising spaces that allow customers to play with mascots and characters in a sinister interactive advertisement plot. Allow Microsoft to explain …

In one example, to advertise the movie TRANSFORMERS, an advertiser may provide the robot BUMBLEBEE, which is a popular character in the movie, as the advertiser-generated avatar. The BUMBLEBEE avatar may include functionality to “transform” between the robot and the CHEVROLET CAMARO depicted in the movie. In another example, to advertise the cereal TRIX, an advertiser may provide the TRIX RABBIT as the advertiser-generated avatar. The TRIX RABBIT avatar may include functionality to say the popular catchphrase “SILLY RABBIT, TRIX ARE FOR KIDS.” In yet another example, to advertiser the ZUNE digital media player from MICROSOFT CORPORATION, an advertiser may provide an image of the ZUNE digital media player as the advertiser-generated avatar. The ZUNE digital media player avatar may include functionality to change colors, change models, and play various digital media.

Think of it as something similar to PlayStation Home, but with all the pretense of a social networking tool completely stripped out and the focus on marketing put squarely in the spotlight. These playable avatars are being dubbed “Advertars,” and Microsoft suggests that players who interact with them could recieve “compensation,” such as money, points or virtual pets. 

Just think … all these years of videogame development, platform research and corporate showboating, all in the name of giving us a playable rabbit that tells us Trix is for kids. Kind of sad when you think about it.

Jim Sterling