I still remember early attempts at in game product placement and advertising in the game Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. In that game, you can read virtual AXE body spray billboards and see AXE products displayed in bathrooms throughout the game. The subsequent Splinter Cell: Double Agent game had Nivea for Men products.
I agree with what is said in this article, the key is to make advertising seamless and a part of the action:
“It has to be organic and seamless,” said Jeffrey Dickstein, digital advertising sales director for video game designer Ubisoft, which integrated a Dyson vacuum into a CSI game, targeting women over 35 who were avid fans of the TV show.
The prospect of in game advertising should get any marketer excited. Video games provide a key attribute rarely found in any other media; interactivity. Where else can someone drive a 3D rendered Ford Mustang? or power up on a can of Pepsi from a virtual vending machine?
Of course, certain genres such as sports or realistic locations such as a subway station are easier to integrate ads into than fantasy or sci-fi titles.
The possibilities are bound by the creativity of the agency and the game developer. Although games should not be centred around advertising, building sponsorship and product placement opportunities should be in the minds of both developers and marketers.