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Product Placement's Effectiveness in Video Games

Posted by Hayden Patrick Simpson on September 15, 2020 at 6:35 AM

The Advantage of Distraction

Video games have the ability to capture imagination, direct concentration and free us from reality. They offer us a moment to escape our mundane lives and step into an entirely new universe where we can be or do whatever we want. This freedom induces gamers to immerse so deeply into their games that it can feel like they are truly there. When this happens, properly placed adverts in video games can blend in so seamlessly with the virtual world that gamers more readily accept them.

It is due to this degree of immersion that gamers are more susceptible to persuasive ventures.  There are many captivating features of video games that make them more ideal for product placement but what is truly influential about video games is the art of distraction. In this blog, Hollywood Branded explains the persuasive power of product placement in video games - and why they work to create major brand sales.


Product Placement Effectiveness In Video Games


The Main Game Piece

As mentioned above video games are an optimal medium for product placement and that’s all thanks to the art of distraction. This assertion can be supported by multiple social science theories from the fields of communications and psychology. 

Most prominently, however, this statement is grounded in the Elaboration Likelihood Model composed by Dr. Petty and Dr. Cacioppo. In short, the theory explains two routes that people process information through, the first route being central and the second route being peripheral.  

A central route is one that is directly confronted with full cognitive consideration and is not important to this piece. On the other hand, and central to this article, is the peripheral route which processes information through mental shortcuts and avoids active thinking. This is key because product placements are processed peripherally and that’s where the persuasive power comes in.  

When gamers are focussed on gameplay, the product placements in the background stimulate their quick decision processes to subconsciously form a perception of the brand. Then later, gamers may quickly recall the brand in a positive light due to the amusing experience that is associated with the videogame. In other words, while gamers are distracted by the varying elements of their game they are prone to persuasion which can influence their perception of your brand. 

Because product placement excels when being processed peripherally video games are a top contender for this marketing tactic. This is due the many enthralling features of video games that distract audiences and instill desired brand images.


Energizer Video Game Product Placement

How Product Placement &  Co-Promotional Marketing Works


Captivating Campaigns  

Though everybody loves a thoughtless first-person-shooter or mindless racing game, the most memorable of video games are the ones with unforgettable campaigns and storylines. This is due to a campaign's ability to transport us into the shoes of our avatar and experience their triumphs and misfortunes as if they were our own. 

 The Narrative Transportation Theory, conceptualized by Dr. Richard Gerrid, suggests that stories have an overwhelming ability to influence people’s perceptions; which is excellent for brand marketing. This is because storytelling was one of the first benchmarks in human cognition (Yilmaz, Ciğerci), so narratives possess an intrinsic ability to captivate their audiences. This concept can be coupled with the Elaboration Likelihood Model to reveal that when people’s attention is captivated, in this case by a campaign’s storyline, they become more susceptible to covert persuasive elements. 

 Since stories organically encapsulate people into their true or fictitious realm, video games are the prime option for product placement. Though this doesn’t separate them from written or cinematic mediums the next set of traits most certainly will.Monster Video Game Product Placement Energy Drink


The Medium Is The Mesmerizer - What Separates Video Games 

The type of medium a story is shared through influences it’s persuasive power. This has to do with the degree of immersion it provokes since the more immersive a medium is, the better it is for product placement. The increased immersion that a video game’s experience has, as opposed to a written or cinematic one, is linked to its unique characteristics. 


The Diversion of Discovery

One feature of video games is that they engage every learning style, which makes them extremely enveloping. In contrast to written or cinematic mediums that may only engage one or two styles, video games engage visual, auditory, tactile and sometimes even kinesthetic learning. The interaction of all these learning styles working simultaneously is far more intriguing than just one or two of the styles combined. This is important since videogames are a platform for learning and when players are trying to discover something intently, like the key to a puzzle or where to find diamond armor, they’re distracted. This directs their focus towards learning the game, allowing persuasive endeavors to strike subconsciously. 

White Castle Video Game Product Placement Quick Serve Restaurant Examples


Perplexing Procedures

Something else that makes product placements in video games preferable is included in procedural rhetoric. Standard Rhetoric is typically about the elements within writing or speaking that are designed to have persuasive effects. Whereas procedural rhetoric focuses on the persuasive elements in video games specifically, labeling them as their own distinct form. These procedural rhetorical elements can be anything from game mechanics to the campaign process. 

Video games are considered to be their own unique sector because they, “embody processes and rely upon players to enact themmeaning that, as opposed to literature and cinema, they require interaction to receive the story. One must play and engage fully to earn the continuation of the game. In some cases, the outcome of a game is even completely dependent on the player’s choices so a predetermined conclusion isn’t even an option. Because of this, gamers actively choose their course of action inside their virtual environment and are absorbed even deeper due to its dynamic nature.

This dynamic procedure is powerful because, in comparison to movies and literature, the audience must actively make choices to continue forth. This, again, adds to the obstruction involved in identifying backdrop placements and critiquing them centrally. 

Gatorade Product Placement In Video Games Example


Interactive Interference

The final component that makes video games entrancing, and therefore excellent for product placement, is its multiplayer format. Games that are designed to be played with friends, either collaboratively or in contention, have been found to significantly enhance immersion and enjoyment

Since collaborative environments create higher levels of engagement, and other mediums are typically experienced solitarily, video game’s cooperative nature increases its engrossment and subsequently its effectiveness for product placement.Mercedes Product Placement In Video Games Example

product placement and promotion 101


Dynamic Distraction

Looking back at these components, and how they spawn great immersion, it is important to note that they work collectively to influence the comprehensive effectiveness of product placement. 

For instance, starting with the narrative transportation theory, the storytelling experience may be amplified by the procedural process and interactivity involved in influencing the course of a story. Simultaneously, the learning styles may be more effective and thereby more enthralling by virtue of multiplayer gaming since collaboration increases learning efficiency.

Therefore, with each component influencing the degree of immersion, it’s also critical to acknowledge that they influence one another interdependently. Acting like an interconnected web, the different immersive aspects function in concurrence. 

Marlboro Product Placement In Video Games Example


Game Over

It has been speculated that videogames are an extremely effective medium for product placement. This assertion is grounded in the Elaboration Likelihood Model which describes product placement as a peripheral cue. Since product placement is peripheral in nature its most effective when consumed without great mental consideration. One diversion from cognition is distraction which is a common feature in video games. This can be seen in it’s narratives, learning design, procedural interactivity, collaborative orientation or all of these pieces operating dynamically. In the end, it would be wise to consider video games as a go-to for future product placements.

If you're interested in expanding your brand awareness, reaching new audiences and generating more sales, be sure to reach out so we can help connect you with opportunities for product placement. In the meantime, check out some of the blogs our team has written on similar topics.

Want to learn more? Check out our e-book on product placement and learn everything you need to know to get started!

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Topics: Product Placement & Branded Content, Business Advice, esports