IGA Scores More In-Game Advertising for Sims 3

Last Updated Oct 7, 2008 6:57 PM EDT

sims-3.jpgSelling virtual space in video games has been a dream for years now, even if sometimes the reaction from gamers themselves is less than stellar. But agency IGA seems to have cracked the code, scoring two deals within the last two weeks during a time when many agencies are worried about accounts going out the door.

The shop announced on at the end of September it had landed a deal to provide in-game ads for gaming powerhouse Activision on the Playstation 3. Activision puts out some major games, including a little title called Guitar Hero, which has sold 22 million units worldwide.

A piece in Ad Age today looks at the shop's efforts to bring in-game billboards and ads to The Sims 3, another game that promises to be huge. The Sims 2 is sold nearly 16.5 million copies. IGA plans to create dynamic ads inside the game:

"Advertising is very organic to the 'Sims 3' experience," said Steve Seabolt, VP-global brand development for the Sims label. Movie-theater posters and billboards will host ads, and EA will continue to integrate brands into the gameplay.

Mr. Seabolt cited an example involving an over-the-counter pain remedy. "Suppose your Sim had a tough day, or the Sim kids are out of control, maybe the Sim worked out -- that could be a moment for that particular pain relief," he said. "And they take that pain relief and feel restored, better rested ... less on edge."

There are still problems with in-game advertising -- namely, it only works for very certain genres and games. Ads can show up in The Sims, which is set in a world pretty much exactly like our own, and nobody minds. Slam a billboard for Burger King into some of the more fantastical environs of Halo 3, and people will cry foul. Also, much like advertising in social networks, reaching gamers can be difficult since they're usually not in mood to buy. Still, with news out today that young men would rather give up their television than the Internet, firms like IGA, which are following where those highly valuable eyeballs are turning, stand to do quite well.