TV-style ads are coming to a video game console near you



Simulmedia is launching a new platform that connects marketers with game developers to offer gamers rewards in return for viewing video ads.

While there is no shortage of controversies surrounding financial manipulation tactics in games, with many scandals surrounding microtransactions springing to mind, there is a cog in the capitalist machine that you can be sure to avoid while playing. to console video games – commercials. Maybe not for long though.

Axios has announced that a new platform is about to launch, with the intention of bringing TV-style ads to console games. That’s a no on my part (and I can probably assume literally any other player).

Image: Simulmeida

The platform, dubiously named playerWON, has been described as “A unique in-game advertising platform”, which will allow marketers to serve video ads in console and PC games. Owned and operated by data-based TV advertising company Simulmedia, the platform is expected to launch this week.

The new venture aims to help marketers who traditionally go for big TV commercials to target young people instead through video games, supposedly without compromising user engagement. Simulmedia praises its ability to “Connect your brand to committed players without sponsorship packages or deep integrations”, instead emphasizing their player-centric ad formats, full transparency and cross-media integration.

Fortunately, unlike their TV counterparts, these commercials will at least have some benefits for viewers. Users will be able to choose whether they want to watch a 15- or 30-second video ad in exchange for unlocking exclusive in-game perks – think of it as a microtransaction, but you pay with your attention instead of money. It’s unclear if no video will be an option.

Simulmedia research concluded that a majority of gamers “Like receiving free rewards and content”, but it is misleading to perceive these benefits as completely free. Herbert A. Simon’s famous “attention economy” model locates human attention as a scarce commodity of which we have only limited quantities, so it has great value that can essentially be used for trade like any other resource.

This framework has been used by many modern researchers to examine platforms such as Facebook, which are touted as “free” even though users pay for their access with attention and personal data that can be used as leverage to sell ad space. . Of course, many players might actually enjoy receiving rewards for a low-effort task like watching a video, but to claim that these perks are free for the player is manipulation.

Mobile game advertising
Image: Kongregate

Simulmedia’s research was conducted for over a year and found that 76% of console and PC gamers “Want the ability to watch advertisements in exchange for in-game rewards” and 86% of players “Confirmed that watching award-winning video ads kept them playing the game longer”. They also found that players would, on average, be willing to watch six or more ads each day in exchange for in-game rewards.

They then created a platform that collects and verifies commercials from major brands that would typically be shown on TV, allowing developers to code those commercials into their games and decide what reward players would get for agreeing to watch them. . The company is then able to see if the ad has been seen in its entirety, before sending a notification to the game allowing the release of the reward to the player (which can vary from in-game currency to new skins).

This process may sound familiar to fans of mobile games, but it’s completely new territory for console gaming. With the proliferation of free games like Fortnite, Apex Legends and Roblox, it is very possible that we will see advertisements emerging as a more desirable alternative than spending real money on these games. Hopefully, this is where the ads will stay in these kinds of games, rather than expanding to paid games.

This new form of advertising has the potential to be huge. Simulmedia has already made deals with some major game studios, including EA (known microtransaction demons) and Tencent’s Hi-Rez studios, and they are working to expand their network of advertisers and developers who can be connected to advertising opportunities in the console.

Apparently they plan to launch ads in at least a dozen games by the end of the year, so start preparing for this new form of advertising to become a reality. Warning, Black mirror – it looks like we’ve beaten you in the fist before.


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