The market for ads embedded in video games is booming, setting the stage for a spat over whether they're intrusive, or a "creative element". A previous study -- albeit one sponsored by a game publisher -- found that in addition to in-game ads being highly persuasive, players say they make games more real. The BusinessWeek article raises a few examples: the first is a new Sims game where users run restaurants and other businesses, but EA eschewed using any real brands or products. The second mentions how an ad agency put some ads for Subway on some servers' versions of the online game Counter-Strike -- without the permission of the game's publisher. In the first instance, in-game ads and product placement could make it more realistic, even more interesting to some players, while the second seems like an odd intrusion into an online world. The key is context: in the context of the Sims game, product placement's appropriate; in Counter-Strike, the Subway ads stick out like a sore thumb. Sure, they'll get noticed, but their blatant appearance can cause a backlash that creates the exactly opposite reaction than advertisers want.
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