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Business - Written by on Wednesday, October 15, 2008 10:45 - 0 Comments

Campaigning on XBox 360?!

First noticed by a Xbox 360 live gamer on his RoosterTeeth (JeffSon) forum page, and subsequently reported by GamePolitics and GigaOm.  It has now been confirmed (by GigaOm) that the Obama campaign has purchased advertising in the XBox 360 game – Burnout Paradise. So now, when gamers decide to make a visit to Paradise City, they may see some billboard advertisements informing them that early voting has begun, directing them to visit Obama’s webiste: voteforchange.com

EA games’ director of corporate communications, Holly Rockwood told GigaOm by e-mail: “I can confirm that the Obama campaign has paid for in-game advertising in Burnout.”

This story has also appeared in The New York Times (written by Wagner Jame Au of GigaOm) and Advertising Age and has taken a life of its own and developed a viral quality – with good reason, it’s a pretty good story.

With 20 days left until the Presidential election this is a great way for politicians to reach the 18-34 demographic (although, of course, ther are many people outside of that demographic who game). According to NPD group there are 174 million gamers (in the US) who personally play games on PC/Mac or video game systems, 17 percent (or 29.58 million) of those are Console Gamers. XBox 360 alone has reached 10 million console sales in the US. When you take the time to look, those are some pretty compelling numbers.

So, is advertising in video games a good idea? Well, if companies like Coca Cola, Harveys, Nike and Burger King can advertise through these mediums, why can’t a political campaign? Clearly the placement in games is important since a political campaign may not want to be associated with, say… GTA IV. But I’d say that this ad has generated a good buzz, at least within the blogosphere and gaming community. (On a slightly separate but related note, GigaOm points to a Brandweek study conducted by Neilson Games that showed of those surved a full 11% said they’d purchased a brand advertised in a game.)

Some blogs like GamePolitics have pointed out that Obama refers to gaming in a negative light, but, to be fair (at least for kids) there’s a time to play video games (which has its set of associated benefits) and there’s a time to do homework (which, I would argue, also has its set of associated benefits).

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