Ad-Subsidized Goods Come To Online Games

WildTangent has a new ad platform for sponsoring in-game virtual goods transactions in online games.  Adweek reports that the casual game maker has launched BrandBoost, an ad platform for online games that enables advertisers to sponsor, and in turn subsidize virtual items acquired by players.  The news outlet says BrandBoost is already in use by Sony Online’s Free Realms games as well as on casual game sites and  The system lets players shopping for virtual in-game items choose between paying for it or getting it for free by engaging with a sponsor message, such as a video ad.  WildTangent’s Dave Madden called the platform the most effective in-game ad model.   He said that the company will announce a BrandBoost deal with a major social gaming company in the coming weeks.  Read more at Adweek {link no longer active}.

How Game Households Spend Their Money

Nielsen research on how U.S. households spend their money on entertainment shows purchase habits differ for those classified as game consumers.  Industry Gamers reports on the findings.  Nielsen data shows that for all U.S. households about five percent of entertainment spending goes towards videogames.  The figure nearly doubles to 9.3 percent for households classified as game consumers, which Nielsen estimates as making up 24 percent of all U.S. homes.  For other types of entertainment, Nielsen found purchase habits for gamer households are similar to all households for activities such as dining out, spending in non-media hobbies, going to the movies, or spending on mobile entertainment.  But habits diverged when it came to buying entertainment media.  The firm found game households spent significantly less on cable and satellite TV packages as well as print.  In turn, game consumers open up their wallets more readily for buying or renting movies, buying music, spending on sports activities, and purchasing entertainment through the internet or on-demand services.  Industry Gamers says Nielsen s report cited game households as valuable, tech-savvy entertainment consumers.”  The news outlet has a chart of hard data from the report.  Read more at Industry Gamers {link no longer active}.

‘Kick Ass’ Film To Get Casual Game Tie-Ins

Lionsgate s Kick-Ass is getting licensed games for PlayStation Network and iPhone, reports  The games are based on the film featuring a trio of young teens, plus Nicolas Cage, who decide to take on the persona of superheroes to fight crime.  They are being developed by Frozen Codebase and released by WHA Entertainment.  The game makers described them as 3D action fighting games.  They also said the PSN version integrates Facebook and Twitter, letting friends pass along information on in-game missions through the social nets.  Release for the “Kick-Ass” based games are being timed with the film s April 2010 opening.  Read more at {link no longer active}.

Doritos Joins Pro Gaming League

Doritos has partnered with game competition organizer Major League Gaming to launch a nationwide search for up-and-coming gaming talent.  The pair has organized the Pro Gaming Combine, a game skills competition launching in late March in Nashville, Tennessee, then touring Chicago, Denver and Washington D.C. through fall 2010.  Each city will get a three-day competition evaluating thousands of game players as they vie for prizes, and ultimately the chance to earn an all-expenses paid trip to compete at MLG s Pro Circuit Event.  Rudy Wilson, vice president of marketing at Doritos maker Frito-Lay, said the concept is based on the NFL combine for prospective pro football players, in this case making professional gaming dreams a reality for many. Read more in the press release.

Still Stoking The Inferno

For anyone who thought EA’s TV push for Dante’s Inferno peaked with its Super Bowl ad, or whether it could get any more out and away from the box than fake religious protesters, a mock Bible-themed game, or the ASCII art guerrilla campaign, check out Hawk Panther.  AdFreak says EA launched the campaign yesterday with this TV spot leading viewers online, where a visit to the Hawk Panther site eventually bumps them to a micro-site for the game.

Watch it at AdFreak.

Is Anyone Home?

Writing for Mediaweek, Mike Shields talks to advertisers about Sony s game network efforts with PlayStation Network and its avatar-populated social space, Home.  He finds that while PSN is being seen as finally making strides to catch up with rival Xbox Live, Home is considered a nonstarter that has disappointed both users and advertisers.

Read it at Mediaweek {link no longer active}.

Face-Snatching Billboards Can Target Ads

NEC is testing digital billboard technology that can recognize age and gender of passersby in order to serve up targeted ads, reports ABC News.  The company has rolled out the billboards as part of field tests at shopping malls in Japan, and it expects to begin similar tests in the US in two to three months.  ABC says the technology uses a still camera with facial recognition software and can identify a subject’s age to within ten years.  NEC told the news outlet that it expects to run into privacy concerns in the U.S.  Talking to the issue, NEC’s Takeshi Yamamoto said that the technology is designed to be anonymous in that it doesn’t collect information relevant to a person’s individual ID.  Read more at ABC News.

‘Dante’s Inferno’ Gets Animated Film

An animated film based on EA s just-released videogame Dante’s Inferno is hitting stores on DVD and Blu-ray next month, reports LA Times.  The publisher paired with Film Roman Inc. to produce the film, titled Dante s Inferno: An Animated Epic, as a parallel project while developer Visceral Games was making the game.  LA Times says the work draws directly from EA’s game and not the classic source material, describing it as something closer to a multimedia bundling than a traditional adaptation.  The animation uses various art styles for depicting the circles of hell, with EA going as far as enlisting a different studio for each segment.  LA Times points out that the IP EA’s, not Dante Alighieri’s has now branched into animation, a comic book published by DC Comics-owned Wildstrom, and a film adaptation optioned by Universal Pictures.  Read more at LA Times.

Retailers Speak Up On EA Used Game Initiative

UK retailers are speaking out on EA’s Project Ten Dollar, an initiative to cut down on used game sales by offering exclusive downloadable content worth $10-15 to new product purchasers.  Executives from UK-based used game stores SwapGame and Chipsworld voiced their opinions to  SwapGame CEO Marc Day said that the move could ultimately hurt EA and other game publishers, citing that the majority of customers in his stores use game trades as a means to purchase new games they can’t otherwise afford.  Chipsworld’s Don McCabe took a different approach, saying that EA asks game buyers to register to receive their free content, which means they are collecting consumer data for direct marketing.  McCabe said he wonders why his chain would hand over customers to someone who plans to compete with it, adding that it would make them less likely to want to promote that game.   Kotaku reports on the story that first appeared on, which now requires registration for access.  You can read more, and jump to the story, at Kotaku.