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What is in-game marketing and product placement?

Question:

Discuss about the Production Placement in Video Games.

The term “In-game marketing” refers to a non-traditional advertising style that is pursued through digital gadgets and video games. On the other hand, product placement is indicative of a distinct marketing practice for a commercial purpose, in which a particular brand name, package or any kind of trademark merchandise are inserted as well as utilized in a motion picture or in television or in other form of media vehicle. However, several times it is considered that has been considered that the entire method of In-game marketing and product placement distracts from the mesmerizing experience related to playing video games (Dardis et al., 2015). It is not a worth admitting fact as In-game advertising and product placement provides a great sense of realism to the players, which indulge them more into the game.

In a video game like Grand Theft Auto IV that is completely fictional, the style of In-game advertising and product placement gives an ironic as well as humorous reflection on the real-world society (Dardis et al., 2016). Through depicting products and premises those have similarities with the real world, the aforementioned video game actively indulge the players into an exciting visual world. At the same time, allows the players to understand what such rock star games attempting to make about the real society. Therefore, the thesis statement of the following essay is In-game marketing and product placement does not distract from the immersive experience of the game play.

The Grand Theft Auto or GTA is officially known to be a video game that is based on action-adventure and is created by the combine effort of David Jones and Mike Dailly. Primarily developed by the DMA design or Rock star north and published by Rock star games, the video game is a series that are set in varied fictional locales (gta4.net, 2017). These fictional locales are Liberty city or San Andreas or vice city, which are ironical representations of real cities like New York City and Miami. It has been found out that there are presently sixteen games in the Grand Theft Auto along with two expansion packs for the original series. For the Grand Theft Auto IV, there have been made two expansions too. The most significant fact about the distinct gaming series is the video game series holds near about 10 world gaming records, which includes largest voice cast along with most guest stars in single video game series (nytimes.com, 2017). Moreover, the GTA has been ranked 5 in the best selling franchises of video game of all time. In this context, it is required to mention that each of the video games allows the players to have the freedom to select what to do and how to accomplish through varied procedures of transport and weapons.

The GTA IV, which is set in the Liberty city, is about a single player – a war veteran Niko Bellic who is struggling with the attempt to escape his past and at the same time is having pressure from the mob bosses as well as from the loan sharks (gta.wikia.com, 2017). The game is played in a single player mode and the world presented in the game is navigated by vehicle. The city depicted in the game is the Liberty city, which is based on the metropolis of the city of New York. Unlike the GTA3 that had vaguely represented its real world counterpart, in GTA IV, the Rock star production brings out a modified Liberty city that appropriately resembles the New York City (gta.wikia.com, 2017). It can be therefore said that the visual graphics of GTA IV is the mocking representation of the city of statue of liberty that helps the game series to attract more users who can indulge themselves in doing some exciting activities, which they could not accomplish in real life.

The impact of in-game marketing and product placement on Grand Theft Auto IV

The game employs some of the realistic resemblance to numerous well known buildings of New York like Astor Plaza, Bertelsmann building, Chrysler building, Brooklyn Bridge, Coney Island Cyclone, Doubletree Guest Suites, Erie Lackawanna Terminal and Manhattan Bridge (gta.wikia.com, 2017). By depicting the realistic representation of the aforementioned premises, it can be said that the game rightly possess all the potentials which are required to engage the players as well as mesmerize them into a game. A player or user gets immersive experience of a video game only when the person gets a taste of real life aspects in the game. The deliberate mocking presented by the aforementioned game of real life counter parts rightly provides a sense of realism to the users (Glass, 2007).

In this context, it is required to be mentioned that people can make argument about the fact that the GTA game series and specifically GTA IV does not depict every street of the New York City but most of the major landmarks are presented in the game, which are rendered in exciting and surprising details. It should be considered here that the virtual world of video games gives an alternate reality to the users and allow them to freely implement their selves without having the fear of undesired consequences. Moreover, the video games and the virtual world presented by the games attract the consumers as they can escape all the responsibilities of the real world as well as the mandatory routines of daily life (Greitemeyer & Mügge, 2014). On the other hand, the In-game marketing is the way of including products or brands in the virtual world through product placements. As per Jin and Phua (2015), it can is not a considerable fact that product placement in video games distracts from the hypnotic experience of video games as natural product replacement in the video games efficiently enhances the quality of the gaming experience. However, it also to consider in this case that incongruently placed products produce negative associations and absolutely distract the gamers (Hansson, 2017).

Therefore, it can be said In-game marketing and product placement can only distract the immersive gaming experience when the representation of the realistic counterparts are made incongruently. However, it is to regard in this context that In-game marketing and product placement have become famous for exciting gamers to immerse into the gaming experience as most of the time, the characters and the products shown in the games mocks the real life counterparts of them. As per Martí-Parreño et al. (2017), the phrase immersive game play experience means a practical contact with observation of facts or a person, event or an occurrence that imposes an impression on the players. More precisely, the immersive gaming experience is indicative of an experience that evoked a special kind of sensation in the participants. Most significantly, according to Walsh et al. (2014), a gaming experience occurs through five particular elements, which are visual scanning, motor responses, auditory discrimination, perceptual patterns of learning and concentration. Through the In-game marketing and product placement, the aforementioned elements like motor responses, visual scanning and auditory discrimination are infused in a game. On the other hand, it should be also considered that in terms of generating excitement or sensation among the players, video games like the GTA series and particularly GTA IV make inclusion of varied mock brands and places.

How Grand Theft Auto IV uses realistic counterparts to enhance the gaming experience

In this respect some of the in-game fictional brands, which have been perceived to be the real-life counterparts should be listed. Some of the brands and places, which have been mockingly represented in the GTA IV, can be classified into American, British, Australian, French, Italian, Japanese, Swedish and South Korean brands. The GTA Albany, Schyster, Bravado, Vapid, Invetero, Declasse and Mammoth are real world American brands – Cadillac, Chrysler, Old logo, Dodge, Ford, Chevrolet, Corvette, Coquette and Hummer respectively. On the other side, GTA Cheval is considered to be the real world Holden. Furthermore, British Brands, such as Jaguar, Aston Martin, Rolls Royce, Bentley, Mini and Land Rover are represented as GTA Ocelot, Dewbauchee, Enus, Weeny and Gallivanter respectively (reddit.com, 2017). The popular French brand Bugatti is represented as Truffade and the Italian brands Lamborghini, Ferrari and Maserati have been depicted as GTA Pegassi, Grotti and Lampadati (reddit.com, 2017). 

However, along with the aforementioned brands, the GTA series players enjoys some not so famous country brands like Fisker, Telsa, Mercury and Lincoln in the GTA name of HIjak, coil and Dundreary respectively. In this context, it is to keep in consideration in this respect that not only through depicting the aforementioned brands, GTA series and specifically GTA IV displays the radio stations, which plays real music and real voice over of actresses and models (gta4.net, 2017). Here, it should be mentioned that the utilization of the models is primarily pursued for the brand endorsements, which is the sole aim of In-game marketing and product placement. However, it could not be ignored that the real life music presentations and voice over creates a sense of excitement among the players as they feel like existing in a real world where they can do anything they chose (Walsh et al., 2014). Therefore, it could not be admitted that the In-game marketing distracts from the immersive gaming experiences.

Besides the above discourse, it is to consider also that the entire idea of In-game advertising and product placement has proven one of the effective marketing procedures in the contemporary time (Martí-Parreño et al., 2017). It is because the excitement brought by the product placement style or the real life depiction of the brands successfully drives the minds of the players towards the real world product. Consequently, the real world brands are generating sales for the record labels (Siemens et al., 2015). Henceforth, it should be considered with utmost priority that the In-game marketing and product placement is potential in accomplishing a huge number of customer acquisitions as well as indulging more gamers into the virtual world of video games. The reason behind the increasing persuasion of In-game marketing and product placement is that people nowadays are more connected to the digital world and to attract young customers, there is no better way but the In-game marketing that successfully lures them towards a particular brand (Terlutter & Capella, 2013).

In this context, one thing should be noted that product placement has an immense impact on the consumers. According to Lull et al. (2016), fruitful consumer recall is possible through varied kinds of product placement. It has been a proved fact that participants or the consumers can properly recall product in the audio and video placement as the audio-visual sensorial cues are efficient in producing greater recall among the participants. Specifically, in the video games, there are seen peripheral and highly integrated product placements (Greitemeyer & Mügge, 2014). Both of the aforementioned product placement styles are easy to include as well as efficient in establishing mock presentations of real world products and brands. However, relatively the highly integrated product placement is less in video games as they consume more time and effort (Hansson, 2017). However, the highly integrated product placement is proven most successful in creating acute depiction of the real world products and unlike the peripheral product placement; it cannot be integrated as well as improvised in the final stages (Jin & Phua, 2015). However, it should be considered that without the help of the highly integrated product placement, it was not possible for the Rock star games publishing could not have portrayed a virtual world that is potential in giving real experience.

Incongruent placements and negative associations

Specifically, the GTA IV’s product placements like the presentation of the Jazz channel through salsa, alt-rock, hip-hop stations is one of the most real world representation that is considered to have indulged gamers into the game and has given them the immersive gaming experience. However, it is to consider in this respect that instead of keeping real world similarities, the producers of the real world depicted game series like the GTA series prefers to has a legal disclaimer that indicates that each of the contents of the video games is fictional and does not intended to depict any real life event (greenmangaming.com, 2017). It can be perceived that such legal disclaimer is shown in order to avoid any legal and public offense and harassment.

Therefore, from the above essay it can be said that it is not a fact worth agreeable that In-game advertising as well as product placement creates distraction among the players and prohibit them from enjoying an immersive gaming experience.

References

Dardis, F. E., Schmierbach, M., Sherrick, B., Waddell, F., & Aviles, J. (2015, January). WHICH WAY TO GO?: THE RELATIVE EFFECTIVENESS OF BRANDED ADVERGAMES, BANNER ADS, AND PRE-ROLL ADS ON BRAND RECALL IN VIDEO GAMES. In American Academy of Advertising. Conference. Proceedings (Online) (p. 69). American Academy of Advertising.

Dardis, F. E., Schmierbach, M., Sherrick, B., Waddell, F., Aviles, J., Kumble, S., & Bailey, E. (2016). Adver-Where? Comparing the Effectiveness of Banner Ads and Video Ads in Online Video Games. Journal of Interactive Advertising, 16(2), 87-100.

Glass, Z. (2007). The effectiveness of product placement in video games. Journal of Interactive Advertising, 8(1), 23-32.

GRAND THEFT AUTO IV - Liberty City: Real-World Comparisons, New York, New Jersey. (2017). Gta4.net. Retrieved 14 May 2017, from https://www.gta4.net/setting/liberty-city-versus-real-world.php

Grand Theft Auto IV. (2017). Greenmangaming.com. Retrieved 14 May 2017, from https://www.greenmangaming.com/de/games/grand-theft-auto-iv/

Greitemeyer, T., & Mügge, D. O. (2014). Video games do affect social outcomes a meta-analytic review of the effects of violent and prosocial video game play. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 0146167213520459.

Hansson, L. (2017). Dynamic In-Game Advertising: How important is it that ads are dynamic and capable of changing?.

Jin, S. V., & Phua, J. (2015). The moderating effect of computer users’ autotelic need for touch on brand trust, perceived brand excitement, and brand placement awareness in haptic games and in-game advertising (IGA). Computers in Human Behavior, 43, 58-67.

Liberty City/New York Landmarks. (2017). GTA Wiki. Retrieved 14 May 2017, from https://gta.wikia.com/wiki/Liberty_City/New_York_Landmarks

Lull, R. B., Gibson, B., Cruz, C., & Bushman, B. J. (2016). Killing Characters in Video Games Kills Memory for In-Game Ads.

Martí-Parreño, J., Bermejo-Berros, J., & Aldás-Manzano, J. (2017). Product Placement in Video Games: The Effect of Brand Familiarity and Repetition on Consumers' Memory. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 38, 55-63.

Schiesel, S. (2017). Grand Theft Auto IV: Dystopian Liberty City. Nytimes.com. Retrieved 14 May 2017, from https://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/28/arts/28auto.html

Siemens, J. C., Smith, S., & Fisher, D. (2015). Investigating the Effects of Active Control on Brand Recall within In-Game Advertising. Journal of Interactive Advertising, 15(1), 43-53.

Terlutter, R., & Capella, M. L. (2013). The gamification of advertising: analysis and research directions of in-game advertising, advergames, and advertising in social network games. Journal of Advertising, 42(2-3), 95-112.

The car companies of GTA V and their real life counterparts • r/GrandTheftAutoV. (2017). reddit. Retrieved 14 May 2017, from https://www.reddit.com/r/GrandTheftAutoV/comments/39kzn4/the_car_companies_of_gta_v_and_their_real_life/

Walsh, P., Clavio, G., Mullane, S., & Whisenant, W. (2014). Brand Awareness and Attitudes Towards Political Advertisements in Sport Video Games. Public Organization Review, 14(2), 127-138.

Walsh, P., Zimmerman, M. H., Clavio, G., & Williams, A. S. (2014). Comparing brand awareness levels of in-game advertising in sport video games featuring visual and verbal communication cues. Communication & Sport, 2(4), 386-404.

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