Saturday, August 25, 2007

Advertising in Video Games Hit a Speed Bump

The publishers of the popular video game “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” are feeling the heat from the Federal Trade Commission as of late. A probe has been launched into the popular video game and this comes on the heels of New York Senator Hilary Clinton and Michigan Congressman Fred Upton urging the US House of Representatives to investigate whether video game publisher “Take Two Interactive Software” intentionally deceived the ratings board to avoid an “Adult Only” rating.

According to reports sex scenes were buried in the video game and this was not told to the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, who have raised the rating from Mature to Adults Only.

As of now retailers such as Circuit City, Best Buy and even Wal-Mart have since ceased selling the video game and removed it from their shelves.

Will the latest scandal be the end of “Advergaming”?

It’s doubtful, the video game industry is an $11 billion dollar industry that reaches one of the most evasive demographics, males between the ages of 17 to 35.

“Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” is a very popular video game but it’s one of hundreds that hit the shelves every year. It just so happens that due to their actions they will bring stricter laws to the table and make it more difficult to get a PG rating for action games.

Though marketers may have been scared off, and for good reason, they should not discount the potential value of embedding their brand within video games. Instead of abandoning the medium, marketers may want to be more selective in what video games they associate their brand with. No brand wants to be involved in controversy especially when it relates to pornographic material being embedded in a video game.

Marketers may want to do more research into the video game before jumping in headfirst. They need to perform their due diligence which includes looking at past video games published by a particular company and previewing the game itself.

In short, “Advergaming” is only in the beginning stages and will more than likely grow in popularity in the near future. This is a hurdle that the video game industry needs to overcome, but as with anything you can’t judge an industry by the actions of one company.

Louis Victor
New Age Media Concepts

Louis Victor is the Executive VP of New Age Media Concepts, an advertising, marketing and public relations firm.