In my last blog I elaborated on the two distinct types of gamers. I mentioned how gamers have different motivations for playing video games and how this affects companies to develop games for different types of gamers.
This blog will add to last weeks blog by addressing a certain technique that has plagued the video game universe for a substantial amount of time. Personally, I cannot decide whether I am for this technique or against it. This questionable technique is known as product placement. Russel and Belch (2005) defines product placement as simply entertainment media that has products placed within it.
Product placement in video games can come in any form; from billboards advertising the product in racing games or the product itself being used by the main character in the game. A superb example is the video game Alan Wake. If anyone has ever played the it they will already know what I mean. Alan Wake is a horror game. You walk around at night with a torch. This torch can run out of energy and to refill the energy you need to collect batteries which have fortunately been scattered around the game. Sounds fine at the moment right? Where could the product placement be I wonder?
How about everywhere in the game!
All of the batteries you collect are Energizer batteries. That’s right Energizer batteries. The to
rch you use is even an Energizer torch! Energizer must of struck a deal with the developers to enable all the batteries in the game to be Energizer batteries. Even though Alan Wake is a great game, this over use of product placement in video games can get slightly frustrating.
All this product placement got me wondering. Does product placement actually have a substantial affect on gamers/consumers? If there is an effect, why is there one?
Glass (2007) discovered that when participants played a video game that featured branded products the participants were more likely to rate the product as ‘good’ over products that were not in the video game.Nelson (2002) concluded that this influence of product placement in video games could be related to the cognitive involvement users have with the games. Video games elicit a high amount of immersion and cognitive stimulation (Glass, 2007). The users are so heavily involved in the game that they let their guard down in terms advertisement. The users are so focused on the game they barely have any capacity to evaluate their preference of the advert/brand. The users just accept that the product is there.
Additionally, Escalas (2004) states that the interaction players, whilst playing video games, causes an imagined interaction with the placed brand. This imagined interaction produces more positive attitudes towards the brand. For exa
mple, If the game you play elicits positive feelings, like pleasure or joy, then you are more likely to associate the brand with positive feelings. The feelings for the game extends itself to the placed product (Glass, 2007). Winkler and Buckner (2006) suggest that the feelings from video games can be utilized to change the perceived image of a brand. Furthermore, Garretson and Niedrich (2004) found that if there is a built up trust with a character, in this case the main character in a video game, then the individual is more likely to associate this trust with the brand. This can be seen when players take on the role of the main character in a game. the player follows the character through the game and grows to associate positive feelings towards the character. These positive feelings then get extended towards the brand in the video game. Thus, it is not just the emotions elicited from the atmosphere of the game it is the emotions elicited from the character that influence brand preference.
From this blog we can sum up that game developers attempt to establish certain feelings and moods in their games. All companies have to do is subtly insert their product into the game. Then the players will associate the feelings they get from the game with the product. The game developers do all the work and the brand companies reap the benefits!
What do you guys think? Does product placement irritate you? Does it influence your preference for a brand?