SBD/5/Sponsorships Advertising Marketing

PRODUCT-PLACING IN VIDEO GAMES, THE NEXT FRONTIER

     Product-placement advertising has come to the video-game
business, "just in time for Christmas" -- and it is being
"embraced by game makers as a possible cash cow."  Some examples
include little Adidas billboards in the video game FIFA Int'l
Soccer and 7-Up ads on a scoreboard of a Formula One Grand Prix
video game.  "While new technology has made video games more
believable, it has also made them vastly more expensive to
produce.  Proponents say product ads help keep the expensive
games from costing even more, while adding a dash of realism."
Opponents of video-game product placement say the "arrival of
advertising on computer games is wiping out one of the last
havens children have against commercial messages."  What bothers
consumer groups is that the ads in many of the games are "subtle
-- often, products are woven into the action itself.  In
addition, children play games over and over, unlike, say, movies,
where viewers are usually exposed to product deals only once or
twice."  Another worry:  "Unlike movies, which are rated by
industry review boards, video games are unregulated."  There is
nothing to prevent video game makers from accepting alcohol and
cigarette advertising (Kyle Pope, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/5).
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