I am still stuck in the days of the original Xbox but one thing that I have noticed over time is that in-game advertising has been increasing. I have never really paid attention to these ads because that is not where my focus is supposed to be. For example, when playing a baseball game there might be advertisements on the homerun wall or behind the catcher, but if I’m engaged in the game I won’t have time to look at them. So how effective can these be?

A recent post by Joystiq talks about a consulting company who studied the results of advertising in sports games:

120 game players participated in the study, all aged 18 or above. Each person was selected with specific regard to their gaming preference and experience. Players are then assigned to a particular title spread across eight sports. Titles included Gran Turismo 3, NBA Live and Project Gotham Racing 3. The consultancy then used its measurement tool, the SFI, to monitor player behaviour and matched engagement and receptiveness levels with game events and game play dynamics.

Results showed an astonishing variation in consumer engagement. Overall, SFI scores were comparatively low, especially when contrasted with the prevalence of brand placements. Highest SFI scores were found with NBA Live and Smackdown Vs Raw; however, recall and recognition figures were surprisingly low; a pattern evident across all titles. Moreover, PGR3 elicited no consumer engagement at all, resulting in 0% on all scores.

These results demonstrate a significantly poor level of engagement with consumers and exposed an apparent weakness within games to efficiently capture consumer attention.

I’m not sure if advertisers are looking to subconsciously attract the attention of the users, but this just doesn’t seem to be effective. A better type of advertising that I think will really take off is in things like Microsoft Virtual Earth. Microsoft is currently placing advertising billboards on top of buildings that will attract the attention of someone who is browsing a city in 3D. In this situation the user is probably more likely to see and process the information presented on the billboard.

Do any of you notice these in-game advertisements?