Tobold's Blog
Sunday, June 19, 2016
Video game advertising

The recent trend of mobile games to give you in-game resources in exchange for watching an advert and a recent spree of mine of trying out lots of mobile games has resulted in me watching quite a lot of video game advertising videos. And I can make out several different categories there:

Most appreciated by me are adverts that show the actual game. There are a number of adverts where after 30 seconds I know exactly what the game is about and how it plays, which is obviously a great help to me to decide whether I want to really play this. However some games just have bad graphics, and then the advert doesn't look very appealing either.

A number of video game ads use real people. Basically three categories: Either people who look like the advertisers think an idealized version of the target audience looks, or cute girls, or Arnold Schwarzenegger. You'd think the state of California would give a better pension to their governors. You see those real people sometimes with a smartphone or tablet in hand, but more often with idealized game graphics appearing in front of them on the coffee table. You don't learn much about gameplay other than what genre the setting is in. Most games that use that sort of advertising are multiplayer PvP games, and you see the cute girl launching missiles at the base of the attractive young man while smiling at him. Not very believable!

A lot of ads use computer generated graphics that are visibly not game graphics. You get a general idea what the game is about, e.g. clashing armies or destroying bases, but there is a huge gap between the CGI-rendered graphics and the actual in-game graphics. The worst offender I've noticed was a game which went out of its way to create highly attractive graphics that *looked* as if they were in-game graphics, and were displayed in the video as coming from a tablet or phone, but didn't even remotely resemble the actual in-game graphics. In fact if you ran the video advert and a gameplay video from YouTube side by side, you wouldn't know the two were about the same game.

I don't think overly deceptive marketing really works. Yeah, you might get me to download and try a Free2Play game with a very promising video advertisement. But it'll take me just a few minutes to realize that the ad was fake and I'll uninstall the game before ever having spent a cent on it.

I guess it's all about bulk numbers.

Games need big download numbers and to get that they show ridiculous ads. At least the games are free and you lose only the time it takes to realize if you got crap or gold.
I think it's very interesting how new generations (kids) approach these kind of aggressive/invasive ad campaigns. My two children, now 6 and 9 years old, completely ignore the contents and just use the videos to gain the free bonuses. They really don't care at all and never asked me to install a single game to test it (I still have some power to decide what they can do or do not ;-)). When I asked them "do you actually find them interesting" they answered me "nope, we need them for the occasional bonus, daddy".
@Rugus same thing happens with my son. He does not see "ads" at all...he sees a thing he has to let play to get more points or whatever.
The purpose of the ad is to download and test the game. Even if 99% of the testers say "the ad was misleading and I don't play the game", they still grabbed 1%
Arnie has to pay child support for his kid (the one who resulted from an affair that wrecked his marriage) as well as alimony to his ex-wife. I can see where he'd need the money.
As Gevlon says, it's depressing to think that such a bait and switch might actually still prove to be cost effective.
I don't see how the devs make any money from somebody downloading the game. Misleading customers is not a strategy which will lead to the holy grail of "conversion" of freeloaders into paying customers.
> I don't see how the devs make any money from somebody downloading the game.

Some players download it and actually find it fun. And maybe they will spend some cash too. That's how ads work, right?
Well, if your first thought after downloading is "they fooled me with deceptive advertising", I'm not sure that many people will end up spending any cash.
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