Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Other, shadier dealers have been known to trick users into enrolling in
expensive cell-phone plans or installing types of application software that turn
out to be very difficult to uninstall. Facebook and Zynga both have drawn fire
(and several lawsuits in California) for allegedly being complicit in these sorts
of “Scamville” offers, but by 2011 these behaviors seem to have been curbed.
Still, there is a variety of controversy surrounding the specifics of using offer
walls, and developers should tread with caution.
Popup Ads
In addition to offer wall install ads, games can serve up other types of adver-
tising in an effort to monetize users. For example, when entering Digital
Chocolate's Zombie Lane , users occasionally are offered an ad for a “free” in-
game consumable if they agree to play a Flash advertisement (which is also
a game, of sorts) that is promised to last only 20 seconds. This practice has
raised some eyebrows, as it appears to act as a distraction, enticing users away
from playing the game itself. It is a bit like standing in the front entrance of a
McDonald's and offering customers a quarter off their Big Mac if they agree
to take a bite of a Taco Bell taco. Nonetheless, these sorts of pop-up adver-
tisements are ways to increase indirect monetization of users, though they may
also increase user frustration.
Ad Placement
Beyond ad hosting and the various types of offer walls that we discussed ear-
lier, there are other ways to sell your nonpaying users' eyeball time. Several devel-
opers have successfully integrated product placement into their games. This
is common in sports and racing console titles, but has recently begun appear-
ing in social games, as well. Zynga, for example, has integrated Farmer's
Insurance blimps into FarmVille and has partnered with convenience store
chain 7-Eleven for a variety of promotions centered around a campaign entitled
“Buy, Earn, Play!” Of course, this type of product placement in entertainment
isn't particularly new, but with the notable decline in television viewership (or
at least commercial viewership, thanks to the advent of the DVR) as well as
newspaper sales over the last several years, traditional advertisers for compa-
nies like Farmer's are taking a closer look at social media. Moreover, because
many traditional media brands are conservative with their brand image, the
more friendly, less violent, less “adult” themes of many social games make
them appealing to advertisers. Companies that would shy away from games
like Mortal Kombat or Call of Duty might jump at the chance to advertise in
FarmVille or Angry Birds .
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