Obama Campaign Ads Spotted In Video Game

Dennis Faas's picture

There's been plenty of talk about this being the first truly Internet-powered US Presidential election. But now it seems Barack Obama has found a new technology for getting his message across: video games.

Electronic Arts have confirmed that screenshots of the Xbox 360 game Burnout Paradise showing Obama campaign billboards are genuine. The firm told reporters "Like most television, radio and print outlets, we accept advertising from credible political candidates. Like political spots on the television networks, these ads do not reflect the political policies of EA or the opinions of its development teams." (Source: gigaom.com)

Burnout Paradise is a street racing game. Obama appears via a billboard on city streets, complete with his website address. It follows other technology-based Obama campaigning including an iPhone application for rallying supporters. Even the McCain campaign produced a 'Pork Invaders' game for Facebook.

Though apparently the first time a political ad has appeared in this way, it's not the first time organisations have paid for in-game advertising. The market is worth almost $200 million a year, a figure expected to rise to a billion dollars by 2011. That's because many games are now set in the real world (or at least a simulation of it), with TV and movie-style footage.

As well as reaching a younger audience, some advertisers believe game ads are more effective because gamers pay more attention to the screen than TV viewers. A study by media group Nielsen Games found 10% of gamers had bought brands they'd seen advertised in games. (Source: brandweek.com)

Sometimes advertisers do have limits on how their brand is portrayed: in the game Need for Speed, 'drivers' can crash through generic stores but can't do any damage to a Burger King. If the Obama campaign hasn't shown similar forethought, it may not be long till somebody uploads a screenshot of their virtual vehicle destroying one of his billboards.

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