by: Alain Thys

Alex Eperjessy on our own (slowly decloaking and still finding it's feet) business & games blog has conducted an online mini-focus group/survey on where a few of his friends/gamers think advertising could and definitely couldn't work in their favourite virtual environments.

The responses he got from the gamers which participated (aged 16-25) do give some food for thought.  Especially interesting are the questions on advertising in role-playing games (RPG's) with a fantasy theme. Or better, the lack of desirability of it. Click here for the full article, or have a look at the highlights below. 
Oh yes, to save you the trip I needed to make to to wikipedia, the abbreviations are:
  • RTS = Real Time Strategy Game
  • TBS = Turn Based Strategy Game
  • RPG = Role Playing Game
  • FPS = First Person Shooter
The Participants
  • Galip - 23 years old. Loves: RTS, TBS, RPG and SP FPS (for the story line's sake only), City/Business Simulators. Can't stand: Sport Games, Multiplayer FPS, Real life simulators (Read: The Sims).
  • Bogdan - 24, avid RPG player.
  • Ana - 26, loves RPGs and TBS games, currently addicted to EVE Online.
  • Ionut -  16. Likes RPGs, sims(space, plane, mech etc.) and mostly any game which has alot of class/race/chassis/faction combinations and lots of freelancing.
  • Richard - 25 , "Games that I have played include but are not limited to: Utopia, Final Fantasy 8-12, Warcraft, Starcraft, Halo, Gran Turismo 2-4, Civilization 1-4, Age of Empires 2 or 3 titles, Tekken 1-5, and various EA Sports games."
The Questions
1. Where would advertising content go best in a Sidescroller platform game?
Galip: In case of a 2d game, not many options here besides the walls.
Bogdan: On the game-over screen.
Ana: Background, items, loading screens, storyline, character lines, NPC's.
Ionut: Prolly in urban-themed levels, as regular ads.
Richard: On walls or other objects in background.
2. Where would advertising content work least in a sidescroller platform game?
Galip:No idea.
Bogdan: When you're going for the level's max bonus and the last brick/coin pop-ups an ad.
Ana: Pop-ups.
Ionut: Boss levels or anywhere it'd be out of theme, like in a forest level or similar.
Richard: No ads should be present on the main object.
3. What type of product would you advertise in a sidescroller platform game?
Galip: Candy?
Bogdan: Psychiatrical assistance.
Ana: Soft drinks, sportswear, fast food.
Ionut: Something related to the theme, or at least made to look like it. For instance, samurai swords and apparel in a samurai themed game..
Richard: Depends on the type of game.
4. Where would advertising content go best in an RPG with a fantasy theme?
Galip: Nowhere.
Bogdan: nowhere, it would ruin the atmosphere.
Ana: Background, items, dialogue, storyline.
Ionut: It'd only work for fantasy stuff with real-life application, like replica armor and other creative anachronisms, so blacksmiths, stables or alchemist shops(where modern beverages could be inserted as "potions").
Richard: Nowhere.
5. Where would advertising content work least in an RPG with a fantasy theme?
Galip: Anywhere where it would be too obvious (IE: road signs etc...)
Bogdan: Anywhere, especially on the end boss' armor.
Ana: Anywhere where it wouldn't be too obvious.
Ionut: Anywhere outside cities. Like, a dragon's cave. Honestly...
Richard: Anywhere.
6. What type of product would you advertise in an RPG with a fantasy theme?
Galip: Nothing seems appropriate.
Bogdan: Shampoo - every character has perfect hair.
Ana: Theme-related books, comics, games (through easter egg references maybe), clothing, music. movies.
Ionut: Like I said, swords, armor, "potions", books maybe.
Richard:  A website dedicated to rpg news or linking the games for multiplayer online.
7. Where would advertising content go best in modern setting FPS?
Galip: Billboards, Vending machines, items within the game branded by company with their logo etc...
Bogdan: pretty much anywhere it would work in the real world.
Ana: Background, items, NPC's - it needs to be easy to spot and to have an easily distinguishable image.
Ionut: Pretty much everywhere it would be expected in urban areas. As long as it isn't ostentatious, it fits with the view and it can be destroyed.
Richard: Anywhere you would normally see advertising.
8. Where would advertising content work least in modern setting FPS?
Galip: Dark lit rooms.
Bogdan: On my badass weapon, don't want to see any ads on my shotgun.
Ana: Anywhere it is not either of the above.
Ionut: In sewers or places relevant to the plot.
Richard: Unrealistic places. Most ads dont float in the air.
9. What type of product would you advertise in a modern setting FPS?
Galip: Soft drinks, movies, other games, fast food...chainsaws, crowbars, other heavy duty equipment etc...
Bogdan: Steel or generally metal products.
Ana: Theme-related movies, games, clothing, soft drinks, IT components.
Ionut: Anything except woman's hygiene products and diapers.
Richard: Weapons companies would be ironic. But any type of ad would work as long as it is not overly colorful for the environment.
10. Where would advertising content go best in a future/sci-fi-themed RTS?
Galip: Dunno.
Bogdan: On my favourite tank.
Ana: Storyline, background, items.
Ionut:There should be a significant zoom possibility, and, again, urban areas are the way to go. Maybe even places with strategic value in the game, though that would be a bit cruel towards the gamers.
Richard: On a flat screen or a glass plate with the ad projected on it.
11. Where would advertising content work least in a future/sci-fi-themed RTS?
Galip: On the units the player commands.
Bogdan: On the walls, nobody pays any attention to those.
Ana: Cutscenes.
Ionut: The middle of nowhere, map corners.
Richard: Anywhere it prohibits or interferes with gameplay.
12. What type of product would you advertise in a future/sci-fi-themed RTS?
Galip: Nothing seems appropriate.
Bogdan: Oil-based products.
Ana: IT components, theme-related movies, books, games, clothing, soft drinks.
Ionut: Anything but woman's hygiene products, diapers and electronics, which would seem outdated related to the future world.
Richard:Futuristic items that fit in with the sci-fi setting. Some modern day products could be stretched to fit by using the names of the products with a sci-fi version of the product.
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