Obama Ads Appearing In Games

Obama Ads Appearing In Games

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Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is breaking new ground as the first candidate ever to buy ad space in a videogame.

The Obama campaign has taken out ads in nine EA games for the Xbox 360 that will feature on virtual billboards and other in-game signage. "It reaches an audience that is typically very hard to reach - young males, roughly 18 to 34," said EA rep Holly Rockwood, who declined to say how much was paid for the advertisements. "That's very appealing to our advertisers."

Representatives for both Obama and Republican candidate John McCain were approached by the Microsoft-owned online advertising agency Massive, according to the Seattle Times. While McCain's people declined the offer, Obama's "highly targeted" ads first appeared on October 6 and will continue until November 3, with actual run times varying between states. The ads are only running in ten states where voting could swing either way - Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Montana, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin - nine of which, Gamespot says, voted Republican in 2004.

The Obama ads are appearing in the following games:

  • Burnout Paradise
  • Madden 09
  • Nascar 09
  • NBA Live 08
  • Need for Speed Carbon
  • Need for Speed Prostreet
  • NFL on Tour
  • NHL 09
  • Skate


Naturally, EA's Rockwood said the ads "do not reflect the political policies of EA or the opinions of its development teams," but the truth of the matter is that in many ways they do. A recent look at the political leanings of various industry figures found that 13 executives or developers, including EA CEO John Riccitiello, had donated to the Democratic campaign, while only three had coughed up cash for the Republicans. A poll of 100,000 Xbox Live found a similar, although somewhat less skewed, split between respondents, with Obama drawing 43 percent of the vote while McCain earned 31 percent.

It may be news, but it shouldn't be surprising. The videogame demographic is undeniably huge, and will only continue to grow. Neither campaign has gone out of its way to appeal to gamers - Obama claims the last videogame he played was Pong, while McCain aide Michael Goldfarb famously dismissed "the pro-Obama Dungeons & Dragons crowd... [living in] the comfort of mom's basement" - but Obama at least seems to recognize the potential of non-traditional means of advertising. Whether he's come to view gamers as an important and untapped voting block, or it's just a politically expedient way to burn some excess cash, is another question entirely, but you can bet that by the time the next election rolls around, this kind of virtual campaigning will be commonplace.

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Great, just great....

Meaning what?

Well, I've never been a big fan of in-game advertisement to begin with, as I see enough of it everywhere else (see Idiocracy). I like the thought of a relatively sterile (game developers aside) game environment.

Now they have to bring politics into it? Geez...

Wait...so if game developers are getting political, does that mean Spore is going to have a McCain/Palin banner appearing soon?

I don't really know what to think about it. Is it an act of desperation? I mean, I could have sworn that Obama was against gaming :

http://gamepolitics.livejournal.com/268653.html

But, I guess considering that a major portion of the new voters demographic are gamers, he'd have to bite his tongue and try something new instead of the normal smear campaign.

I just hope that one of the in-game ads has nothing to do with McCain, because this mud-slinging B.S. is really starting to irk me.

This is either the single most stupid thing I've ever seen...or the single most genius thing I've ever seen.

I suppose we'll find out in the long run.

(And for the record, I hate ingame ads, but like so many things of late, I think we're not going to get away from them now that they're here.)

L.B. Jeffries:
Wait...so if game developers are getting political, does that mean Spore is going to have a McCain/Palin banner appearing soon?

I think I've seen Palin and Mccain in Spore already...
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I do not support this. On the one side, seeing ads breaks immersion. On the other side, I don't like the idea of intertwining our fantasy escapes with politics.

Imitation Saccharin :
I do not support this. On the one side, seeing ads breaks immersion. On the other side, I don't like the idea of intertwining our fantasy escapes with politics.

It's only in racing and sports, I doubt anyone will take notice.

Let's not forget it's putting money in the games industry, even if it is EA. I think that alone is enough to put up with the occasional billboard for Obama.

Wait, so if gamers traditionally lean left, isn't this just preaching to the choir? I mean, I know the joking motto for advertising is "Half the advertising budget is wasted, we just don't know which half," but shouldn't he not be wasting money advertising to people who already support him? Or is this to appeal to as a candidate for the younger crowd?

I'd like to see a political billboard in a post-apocalyptic video game, half-buried in the sand. Not five or twenty. Just one.

HobbesMkii:
Wait, so if gamers traditionally lean left, isn't this just preaching to the choir? I mean, I know the joking motto for advertising is "Half the advertising budget is wasted, we just don't know which half," but shouldn't he not be wasting money advertising to people who already support him? Or is this to appeal to as a candidate for the younger crowd?

Rule 1 in PR/Marketing: Aim for those who are already supporting you, are almost supporting you, or are completely undecided because it's near impossible to convince someone to drastically change their opinion.

While most gamers do lean left, there are plenty that are simply undecided, and this is the crowd politicians will always target. Not to mention some of the ads may convince the occasional gamer that supports Obama to actually go vote for him.

It's an interesting idea, especially if it's limited to sports, racing, etc. I don't want to be wandering thought The Elder Scrolls 5 and see some random politician grinning at me from their in-game billboard.

JaKhajiit:
It's an interesting idea, especially if it's limited to sports, racing, etc. I don't want to be wandering thought The Elder Scrolls 5 and see some random politician grinning at me from their in-game billboard.

A.) Fucking awesome avatar

B.) I agree with you

Did anyone bitch when there was a voter registration campaign through the Xbox 360? I don't see the problem with the man using the ad space if it's available to him.

Bluerahjah: How is saying kids should watch tv and play videogames less anti-videogame?

Barack Obama: Because The Government Knows What To Do with Your Money Better Than You Do

JaKhajiit:
It's an interesting idea, especially if it's limited to sports, racing, etc. I don't want to be wandering thought The Elder Scrolls 5 and see some random politician grinning at me from their in-game billboard.

I find Massive to be a generally despicable company and in-game advertising to be a major annoyance. I can live with it in sports and racing because it doesn't break immersion to see ads for real companies where they would appear on a sports or race broadcast on TV. But indeed, if I saw Obama (or McCain, or anyone else from the real world) on a billboard in the Elder Scrolls universe, the first thing I'd think is "I wonder if they programmed fire magic into a destructible-environments model" or "I wonder how far away I can hit that from with my Bosmer archer."

Certainly what Xbox Live was really missing was encouragement for the rampant racist diatribes and political "debates" we love so much.

I highly doubt advertising in games was what got Obama in office in the first place. There are too many other factors to consider to even think that.
This is one more reason for me to feel good to not buy EA games. I am sick and tired of political crap in the real world, I don't need it in my fake world. Hell I change the station when the political ads in GTA4 come up.

I think it is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. After all, when I play games where I go past billboards or see signage, why not sell that ad space? Something's got to go there and you might as well make money.

Now, if you force me to look at these things or worse force me to watch a commercial, then I have an issue.

 

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