Posted October 24, 2005


What does Coke have to do with video games?

Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja [ Data East 1988, HRC, JAMMA, 2P ] Fight through seven levels of ninjas and bosses. Red ninjas drop weapons and Coke cans. There are cans of Coke all over the place in this game... even the ninjas carrying them are dressed in red. Those cans of soda are also the only way you can boost your bad dude's health. Pac-Man Plus (Klov) Manufacturer: Bally Midway Year: 1982 The programming is a lot like Pac-Man except that the maze is outlined in green instead of blue. The prizes that appear in the middle of the maze are cans of Coke, cocktails, green beans, cakes, gift-wrapped boxes, etc. THE REAL THING: Eight. The soda can geniunely looks like a Coke, even if the word "col" is written on the side. Pac-Man Plus Ninja Gaiden Manufacturer: Tecmo Year: 1988 PRODUCT PLACEMENT: Seven. The ninja in the title never drinks any Coke, but there are plenty of red signs with the familiar white ribbon in the first stage. On the down side, they all read "Ca-Ca", which doesn't make the beverage sound particularly appealing.

COCA-COLA CAMEOS: You'll also find Coke in a handful of other arcade games, including the Japanese sequel to Crazy Climber, Capcom's Final Fight, and Sly Spy, Data East's follow-up to Bad Dudes. Straying from the topic of arcade games, Coke was prominently featured in Pepsi Invaders for the Atari 2600, a Game Gear title called Coca-Cola Kid, and a super deformed baseball game for the Super NES starring furry characters. Each team was represented by both a different animal and a different Coca-Cola product.

Advertisements in today's games Advertisement placement in our video games seems to be a necessary evil. Games are trying to be sneaky about it, but put in Burnout 3 and you'll see that Axe Body Spray Ad board as you zip by. There are many examples of product placement in our current library of games but what're the ads really saying about the future of video games? Ads are inserted into games to drop that price tag or to help the bottom line of a video game company. It works for internet sites, television shows, and the radio. So it's not far fetched to see these same ads in video games. --- Advertising helps the bottom line in the cost of making games, however it seldom helps the gamer at the retail level. It's nothing but an extra source of income for the publishers at the expense of their most popular franchises. There are two major examples in todays games: Burnout 3 Splinter Cell. Both of these games were extremely profitable for their respective publishers, both had somewhat invasive in-game advertising, and both still cost $50. As of right now, publishers aren't looking at advertising as a way to help lower the cost of gaming; they're looking at it as easy money. The most profitable games in the business are also the most likely ones to have advertising put into them, since advertisers pay by the number of impressions an ad will get (i.e. the number of games sold). One might hope that a game with heavy advertising might have a lessor price at the retail level, but this never happens. You won't see advertisements in some games like Zelda, Halo, Final Fantasy, or Warcraft because it wouldn't fit in with those fantasy worlds. Game developers and publishers use ad money as insurance. If coca-cola offers a few million bucks to plaster their name all over your game, thats money up front. Even if the game only sells 1 copy, the game developer still has recouped some of it's losses. Games are now starting to cost about the same as a small blockbuster movie to create, ranging in the single and double-digit million dollar range. At 50 dollars, unless you're game is a *massive* seller like GTA you're going to lose money. From a business standpoint it's a stupid move. It's also why you're seeing publishers and game developers take fewer and fewer chances. Did you know that out of the 24 new titles EA is going to release in the coming months, 23 of them are sequels? Games have not seen a gradual increase in price to coincide with the sharply increasing costs of development. You think 50 dollars is outlandish, but just to break even on a 5 million dollar title AE has to sell 100,000 units. That number gets massively inflated when you understand that it gets split between a large number of investors. As a game studio, if you're lucky, you'll *maybe* only see a couple of bucks of that - most of the time it's cents. Now all of a sudden to make any kind of reasonable profit as a studio, there has to be a million+ seller game. It is hard to count the number of million+ sellers in 2005 on one hand. The publisher of Anarchy Online, Funcom, has used revenue from billboards in Anarchy Online to subsidize a basic version of the game for free over the Internet, said Terri Perkins, a Funcom product manager. It also has used the money to develop expansions to the Anarchy Online fantasy world that players can pay extra for. Other video game makers, however, are concerned that adding advertisements to their creations will alienate customers used to escaping into science-fictional and Tolkien-esque digital worlds far from the reach of Madison Avenue. "We're not going to paint a Nike swoosh on the side of the castle of Qeynos," said Chris Kramer, a spokesman for Sony Online Entertainment Inc., the publisher of EverQuest, an Internet-based game set in a swords-and-sorcery fantasy world. "That's the sort of thing that would really turn off the player." Executives at Ubisoft, publisher of the popular Splinter Cell action games based on the work of writer Tom Clancy, say they have poured ad revenue into developing titles rather than bolstering profit. Sony did partner with Pizza Hut on a promotion that allowed EverQuest players to type the command "/pizza" while playing the game to order a pizza over the Internet, Kramer said. The company also felt it was appropriate, he added, to sign up with Massive Inc., a New York-based ad agency, to run ads in its futuristic game PlanetSide. It's nothing personal or a plot to bombard the consumer with ads - it's just business. You don't have an unlimited amount of money to spend on a product, and know company gas an unlimited amount of money to make one. A company has to hedge its bets and insure the studios longevity against a title flop so you might see many well placed coke ads in many AE games, to keep the the companies doors open to produce more games in the future. The videogame industry is just that, an industry, which sole purpose is to make a profit and to stay in business and do well against it's competitors. If it takes ad placement to keep those doors open, then so be it. So far, ads in video games don't affect the personal gaming experience on a day to day basis. Game prices are rising due to skyrocketing development costs as gaming technology advances and consumers demand more immersive experiences, but...this is only going to hurt the industry. Instead of raising game prices, why can't development costs be brought down? It's basically supply and demand in action, which brings in the bottom line to the game developers. When it ad placment becomes to much to bear for the gamer, those games simply will not be purchased at the stores and the game will become a flop. It is a give and take between the gaming experience and the producers right to make money on their latest game. Only the future will tell how much product placement is enough. Coke, Blue Can Coke, 5 cents Halo and Coke Advertising together The venerable huge Coke sign at the top of William Street in Sydney, Australia is doing its part to help save the world. The marketing / PR guys working on the Halo 2 launch, have secured the rights with coke to use the second big billboard as a giant Halo 2 ad. Remember...just one of these billboards is about 30 to 40 feet in length. :) 2004: gaming shops around the world taking part in the festivities that will surround the world-wide launch of Halo 2 for the XBOX by Bungie Studios. Halo
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