Worldwide, gaming has ceased to be just a tool of entertainment. Given the big bucks involved and the increasing gaming population in India, exchange4media takes a look at the opportunities for advertising provided by the gaming industry.
Today, as advertisers grow increasingly unhappy with the value delivered by traditional media, they turn to alternative communication channels. Marketers, who had called computer games as an activity reserved for teenage boys with little purchasing power are strategising on getting into games in a bid to promote their wares.
According to a recent Nielsen Entertainment report, young men devoted 12.5 hours to videogames a week as against 9.8 hours of watching TV. Advertisers globally have woken up to this new medium of advertising where the numbers are growing with each passing day. With revenue expected to break the $10 billion mark this year and garner over $300 million in advertising investment, the gaming industry represents a strong marketing opportunity.
In contrast, India has not seen any major burst of development in this field till recently. However, in the past few weeks, there have been major announcements in the gaming sector, coming from both new entrants like Zapak as well as from old players like India Games and Jump Games (formerly Paradox Studios), principally targeting the casual games segment.
Speaking on the growth of gaming in India, Neeraj Roy, MD and CEO, Hungama, said, “In my belief, the gaming community in the country by 2010 could be 50 million. They may not be dedicated geeks, but they will be playing games in some form or the other. They will be playing their games either on consoles, PCs, casual, MMOG or mobiles.”
With the increase of consoles and broadband facilities, Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG) could well be the next big hit area for advertisers. While the actual cost of putting an ad in online games might appear insignificant (when compared to TV and print), the return on investment could be huge.
According to Rohit Sharma, COO, Zapak Digital Entertainment, “The Internet is the most interactive and targeted way of communication to reach the young audience. With gaming added to it, the reach for advertisers is huge among this target group.”
Advertising could be incorporated in games in multiple ways. Sometimes, games are created revolving around the brands, which are usually Flash based games falling under the casual games segment. Casual games usually have a short span of life as gamers usually look out for newer challenges constantly.
PC and console games have also seen a lot of advertising. PC and console game titles in football and cricket have product placements on the billboards, while in racing games, there are billboards and also the branded cars to be driven. In MMOG, products are virtually placed inside the game or there are banners or billboards integrated into the game play.
Venkat Mallik, MD, Level Up! India, said, “There are no in-game advertisements in the Indian market as of now. There are instances of computer brands associating with games, as in the case of HCL with us for the MMOGs provided by us in the country.”
Zapak has tied up with brands to promote them through games. Divulging more on these, Arun Mehra, Chief Marketing Officer, Zapak Digital Entertainment, said, “We have several alliances lined up – including ZOD!, Domino’s and Big FM. Reebok is also very keen on this venture. Overall, many brands are very keen on getting into in-game advertising.”
“Putting advertisements in a logical and seamless manner into the game play is essential, otherwise the gamer would get frustrated and move on to the next game, therefore defeating the whole purpose of in-game advertising,” pointed out Navneet Prakash, Game Reviewer, Techtree.com. Agreeing with him, Frazeer Barretto, an avid gamer, said, “As long as ads don’t spoil game play, it is fine.”
With the increasing infrastructure and purchasing power of the youth, gaming in India is poised for a huge growth. Advertisers and marketers are slowly realising the potential of this medium. Only time will tell the impact and success of this medium. Until then, let’s begin the watching game!