from the this-is-gonna-suck dept
Advertising in the digital age is always something of a tricky subject. On the one hand, we have made the point for years that advertising is content and content is advertising. The point there is that the more useful and entertaining or engaging advertising tends to be, the more the public looks at it as just more content to consume, while really good content also serves as an advertisement of sorts for the content provider. Many folks simply believe that the public hates advertising full-stop, but that’s really not true. Were it true, one of the hallmark experiences of the Super Bowl wouldn’t be watching the ads. Instead, ads have to be engaging, fun, or useful. Unfortunately, the vast majority of advertising is otherwise, leading to the public tending to look for ways to not have to experience advertising generally.
The worst solution proposed in all of this is to find new and nefarious ways to force the public to view ads. The second worst solution is to coerce them into doing so. And the worst place to do any of this, it seems to me, is in the video game space, where the public has already often times dropped hundreds of dollars on gaming rigs and the games themselves. But that, it seems, is exactly what company PlayerWON is looking to roll out.
A first-of-its-kind in-game advertising platform called playerWON launches this week, allowing big-name marketers that are used to running splashy TV ads the ability to target younger demographics with similar types of spots that will run in video games.
-The platform, which is owned and operated by Simulmedia, a TV ad tech company, will let users determine whether they want to watch a 15 or 30-second video ad in exchange for being able to unlock exclusive gaming perks.
-Simulmedia has struck deals with some of the world’s biggest gaming studios, including Electronic Arts (EA) and Tencent’s Hi-Rez Studios, its EVP, Gaming and OTT Dave Madden told Axios.
If you’re anything like me, your initial reaction to all of this is likely to result in you having convulsions over just how repulsive this all is. But we should take a step back and acknowledge something: this could be done well. The idea of injecting optional advertising into gaming, especially free-to-play games, isn’t an inherently awful idea.
No, the real problem is that virtually nobody in the gaming public has, or should have, any faith that this will be done well. What does doing it well mean? Well, for starters:
- The “perks” involved had damned well better be nice-to-haves and/or cosmetic and not offer some kind of boost to being able to compete in or play the game itself. Otherwise, you’ve broken the balance and experience of the game.
- The ads had better stay short and not interrupt the gaming experience to the point of television, where gamers just leave the room while it plays.
- The ads, as noted in the opening of this post, must be engaging, useful content of some kind.
Missing on any of those three will cause an even larger revolt among the gaming public than will almost certainly already occur. If you need an example of how to absolutely not attempt any of this, 2K Sports has you covered.
Now, while this is largely being spurred on by younger members of the public also being cord-cutters, making them less likely to be reached by traditional advertising, Morgan Stanley seems to think that in-game ad programs like this could be a $2 billion industry. Though, importantly, that projection is based on nearly half of gamers opting into the ads.
I’m sorry, but there’s no fucking way that’s going to happen, even if this is done perfectly. Not if it’s opt-in. What is more likely is that this will only be opt-in for a while and then someone, or several someones, are going to try to first make it opt-out and eventually non-optional. And then you’re going to really see the consequences of advertising programs being done terribly, because nobody will buy those games.