“In-Game Advertising is a an art and when done properly can have amazing impact “
At the Singapore leg of X Media Lab Animation Xpress.com‘s Esha Birnur interviewed Gaming Stalwart Chris Deering (Currently Non Executive Chairman at Codemasters, UK) between mentoring sessions.
It would take multiple sessions of multiple hours if one had to Get all the Gaming Gyan that the stalwart could offer. However In the >60 mins time that Esha had the previlege of spending for the Inerview with Chris, the focus was on In Game Advertising, The European Gaming Market as well as some other emerging trends in gaming globally….
...we hope to get you more from the stalwart in the near future
Meanwhile here are excerpts from the first interview session.
(We also acknowledge the involvement of X Media Lab‘s Brendan Harkin and Megan Elliot in organising the interview meeting)
Please share with us, some of the characteristics that are unique to the European games market?
The game business is widely spread across various platforms, among the traditional platforms like consoles and television and hand held devices like Game Boy and PSP. The European market is sort of in between the Japanese market and the US market. The driving games are more important part of the market in Europe and the rest of the world. Even in Europe there are variations in games like role playing games are quite popular in Germany and family games are more popular in Spain where there are a lot of children. The big games in the US usually do very well in Europe and vice versa. Games like Tomb Raider and Grand Theft Auto were big in both areas. It would not be wise for a game development team to specifically target a game in Europe unless of course it‘s a soccer game or something that is unique to Europe. Europeans pay more attention to graphics than the US and are certainly more demanding in terms of game play. These variations though are not huge because it‘s a global market.
What should developers/ publishers targeting Europe keep in mind?
Games go through stages and one of the stages that they go through is the game review stage. All smart developers and publishers start to understand the typical way in which the games are reviewed by different publications on websites, blogs and so on and by being observant of these publications can avoid perhaps making mistakes in procedure and the way it‘s going to be written and the way it‘s going to be released. Clearly you are going to be thinking about how the game is going to be reviewed at all times, at all times when you‘re creating it, all that goes into announcing it and ultimately making it available. Reviews are quite important in not only guiding the consumers in what to buy but also the retailers in what to buy. The smartest game developers know the best is on the game review community and how they go about doing that.
What new possibilities does ‘wireless‘ bring to gaming?
It brings possibilities for real time massively multiplayer games on the go. Features would provide part of the game on a portable device. It also makes it possible to download things whenever you need them or whenever they become available. Some publishing business models may want to sell their initial game at a competitive price and then trade with people getting more characters, power or venues like the racing track, they can have a better chance of selling that downloaded stuff if it‘s available on the wireless, desktop or the TV connected to broadband. Wireless could also apply to mobile handset gaming which has now become a serious sector of the overall game market. So there are more ways for people to play games and there are more ways for people to make money by creating games.
The challenge of making ‘micro-payments‘ is as ubiquitous as the mobile phone?
Mobile operators because of the way they charge for phone calls make it easy to add small as well as big purchases to your phone bill. Therefore, they remove the blockages to sales online. Generally they take quite a high percentage but the percentage is worth it because without this access to the users, the sales would be much lower. For people who play games on the small screens, they may also think about wi-fi application and delivering to portable pocket PC platforms or even ipod games which may one day become one of the factors. On the internet the micropayment process is less defined but it‘s possible to deal with. In that environment the operators don‘t take the same percentage. If you are selling linear video for example then there many ways to mark a high on the video on demand basis, subscription basis and the like.
Some examples that you could share about ‘bad‘ and ‘good‘ in-game advertising?
There are three kinds of ads in games. One is Product Placement, for example on a table there would be a can of Redbull or as you drive by a building there might be a poster with a picture of Redbull. In the case of an MMOG when you pass by a there might be a poster with a picture of Redbull but when you pass by it again then there might be a picture of a Volkswagen. The first type is called ‘Product Placement‘, the second type is called static advertising and the third is dynamic advertising which is server based, delivered to individual homes. If they know that there is a woman playing a game then there would be a different ad and if it was a man then there would be a different ad. If the ad doesn‘t go with the theme and atmosphere of the game then it‘s really stupid. Also it has to be done in the sense that it increases the enjoyment of the game to make life seem real. It is an art and not just a mechanical thing putting ads in games. They can enhance games and there has been a research among players in games where there are ads where they count on ads to enhance the experience. Alternatively you can think of situations where people have had experiences that are distracting or annoying or upsetting unrelated to the game itself and that would be bad for the game, the advertiser and the whole category of advertising in games.
How do studios and companies wanting to advertise work their partnership out?
There are advertising and sponsorship agencies that put these things together just like the way they do it for movies. In the last two or three years, there have been companies who specialize in advertising in games. What I‘m associated with on the board is called in-game advertising. Anyone who wants to put their ad in the game, we discuss how that can be done. It‘s a product placement which is a one time contract and the product is written into the basic setting of the game. If it‘s static then there are tools given to the developer to enable them to put the static inside the engine for the game which is always the same as when the game is played. When its dynamic advertising, the developer is given additional tools to the developers to make it possible for the server to know what the player is playing, which IP address it is and match up the address and get it approved by the game publisher and then match up with the advertisers and then get it approved by them and each situation with many players over a period of time. For that there is a commission generally of 30 %.
Please share some information about the Edinburgh Interactive Entertainment Festival?
The festival has been around for fifty years or more. It started as a music festival and as it grew rapidly it started to include theatre and harmony performances and it runs for three to four weeks in the summer. Over the years, other forms of entertainment have been celebrated at the same time which includes the film festival, the book festival and we felt that some people along with the Scottish development authority that it would be interesting to include interactive games along with other performing arts and creativity.
So, we run through the three days of presentation that highlight from a global perspective the new developments in multimedia and technologies that are applied to the games to make them more immersive and have screenings and demonstrations of things that are going to be released by game creators, along with workshops and of course networking just like X Media Lab and a little bit of celebration too because it‘s a street fair and celebrating the art and creativity of games rather than the business side of it. By and large it‘s a conference environment celebrating each year, anything that has come along which could make things more involving and exciting and possibly looking out at other media.
So, we have cross conference sessions with the film guys as entertainment seems to be crossing over with games and movies going hand in hand. The consumer sees entertainment as a broad landscape which includes interactivity sometimes and non-interactivity sometimes and characters like Lara Croft, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings seem to be in both movies and games and so we look at how to make that a more consumer enjoyable experience.
“I‘ve retired from Sony but am very anxious to see and quite positive in my view that Play Station will become a very big part of life in India and there will be big opportunities for Indian creators and consumers to enjoy the fact that Play Station is around.”