In-game ads on console: How advertisers and gamers can live in harmony.
I am a console gamer. I have been since I first picked up a Nintendo Entertainment system controller in the late 80s, and then graduated to Covenant squashing Master Chief in my late teens and 20s. Today in my thirties, I am still a console gamer but do it at home and on the go with my Nintendo switch. In the 30 years plus that I’ve been gaming on console, I’ve seen ads and never complained once. Why? Because the advertising was done right.
What I mean by this is that throughout my years playing sports games, fighting games, and even certain racing and adventure games -ads were seen throughout the gaming environments. Things like billboards, signs, product placements. All sprinkled throughout the game play without ever interrupting my gamer experience. This is seamless integrated advertising in gaming done right.
When the Wall Street Journal ran a piece in 2020 that EA was testing in-game ads on consoles the entire gamer community exploded in rage. Angry, disgusted and annoyed at the fact that their console gaming experience will now have to endure the same thing that they endure when watching TV: interruptions through advertising.
Now as a console gamer, I can’t help but agree with the gaming community. If I’m already paying $79 plus for a premium title, then why do I have to put up with an interruption to my game play? The answer is that you don’t.
For premium titles, in-game advertising is opt-in. Just like it is on mobile, if you don’t want to watch an ad just skip it and move on. If you do watch an ad, then sit back and watch and then earn your reward for the time it took to watch the ad spot. On top of this, the ad spots are never positioned to gamers at moments that are critical to game play, making the ad experience a non-invasive one.
When done right, in-game ads on console works
The other way to advertise on premium game titles is as mentioned before. Integrate the ads and product placements into the gaming environments. Believe me it works as this form of advertising is 100% visible, 100% brand safe and not affected by things like ad-blocking and fraud bots and always served in real-time. I’ve personally seen this on game titles like FIFA, Animal Crossing, and even as far back on the Nintendo Entertainment System when playing Ninja Turtles II the arcade game.
Today, there is a rise of free to play console games and like all things free, they need to be supported with some form of income. This naturally falls in the hands of ad-supported content. This type of advertising is already something that midcore to casual gamers are used to and it is slowly becoming a part of the hardcore gamers expectation. With newer and better free to play titles coming out on console, gamers are already expecting that there will be some form of exchange for the free service, and many already expect to exchange their time watching or engaging with an ad for in-game items and for continued play.
Gamers are a hard bunch, they don’t necessarily like change and will naturally push back at anything that changes the way they enjoy the games they love. The key here is to create an ad experience that they will want to accept in exchange for value and most importantly, do it in a way that continues to NEVER interrupt the core gaming experience. If this blueprint of in-game advertising is followed, then advertisers and gamers can live in harmony.
Learn more about dynamic in-game advertising on console and other forms of advertising that is targeted to console gamers today on the APEX Gaming Network site.
Carlos Guevara is the Marketing Manager at APEX Mobile Media and was the host of the podcast "In Search of Good Data." He has also helped various organizations in the private and non-profit sector to become more customer-centric with the use of enriched data and modern marketing and advertising strategies.