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Game Advertising Taken Too Far?


senior SEO engineer

We all know that game developers do not actually get much profit for the games that they create, in fact it is estimated a mere 5-6 dollars are made per copy. When you think that on average a game in the US sells for around $60 then the developers are getting nothing for the two to three years they spend making the game.


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Advertising is a way to increase this profit by up to $3 per game sold which is almost a 50% increase in profit per unit. So with this in mind you can see why they do it but on some games you just think, why are you doing this, it doesn’t belong here, GO AWAY!

One of the first examples of in game advertising occurred way back in 1992 in the game Zool. Chupa Chups can be seen in the background of the game but this was fine because it looked like it was part of the world and didn’t interfere with the experience or the way you saw the game.

Now you will find almost every game that could possibly fit an advertisement in it, has one. Here are some examples of well placed advertisements and ones that have angered people so much there are angry forum threads on it.

Sports Games

The FIFA football games have the best advantage when it comes to advertisement because it is a sport that is rich in advertisements already. It makes perfect sense to include all of the sponsors on the player’s shirts as well as on the electronic boards on the outskirts of the pitch. Other sporting games do this also and it works because you expect to see the advertisements there.

However I was shocked to find that when switching on Fight Night Round 4 the other day that in the middle of one of my fights an advertisement popped up to the new Predators movie! This was not something that was in the game previously which means that EA purposely updated the game so advertisements would pop up at the worse possible moments.


Although not right in the middle of the fight it occurs in the breaks boxers have between rounds in which in the game you are still trying to do things. This really got on my nerves and eventually I gave up on the game because it was ruining the experience for me. THANKS A LOT EA!

Other games that have done this include Splinter Cell Double Agent (where you had to climb over the advertisement), Battlefield 2142 (see first picture) and of course the shape shifting game Prototype where you will find updated banners and adverts dotted all over the place.

The one that really annoyed me recently was Energizer, sorry, Alan Wake. This was because everything in the game was pretty much sponsored by Energizer. The whole point of the game was to use your torch to vanquish the light within the townsfolk and you won’t be surprised to hear the only battery available in the town was of the Energizer variety. They even had billboards advertising the brand despite you already picking it up at every corner. I wouldn’t be surprised if a large part of the next game you spent fighting a gigantic version of the Energizer battery guy within an Energizer factory!! It totally ruined the whole experience of a survival horror/ mystery game for me.

All in all I would say that in game advertisement is good when used in the right way. When using it like EA did in Fight Night and games like Battlefield where you just wouldn’t see a film billboard in the middle a desert it just gets stupid.

It isn’t just limited to gaming nowadays, YouTube have started to add irritating advertisements at the beginning of a lot of their videos and even social networks like Twitter are doing it through sponsored TT. When will it all end!?

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