Sunday, October 12, 2008

Presidential Ads Embedded in Video Games?

This definitely qualifies as "unconfirmed," but it's highly intriguing nonetheless. According to this post on (Where politics and video games collide) (via a tweet by Andy Blanco):
We've only gotten one report of this, which seems a bit odd, but an Xbox Live gamer who goes by Dragunov765 has posted photos of what appear to be in-game ads for Barack Obama.

Dragunov (we know his real name, too) says he came across the ads while playing Burnout Paradise earlier this week . . .

Very interesting. As GigaOM asks:
Its veracity aside, the virtual billboard raises an interesting question: Are political ads in video games a good idea? In terms of eyeballs, I’d have to say yes. Roughly one-third of American households own an Xbox 360, Sony PS3 or Nintendo Wii. In terms of effectiveness, Brandweek recently detailed a survey undertaken by its fellow Nielsen Games division in which 11 percent of gamers said they bought a brand after seeing it advertised in a game.
Some folks will ask how effective this is when so many gamers can't even vote yet. While there are many gamers that aren't yet 18, the average age of gamers is 30, and 37-year-olds buy the most games (as of February 2006 according to David Perry in this TED talk, statistics at about the four minute mark).

When the historians write the history of this election, how big of a feature role will technology have? Internet fundraising and recruiting. YouTube (Obama Girl, clinging to guns and religion, Reverend Wright, a more perfect union, Tina Fey, . . .). Email organizing, energizing, pushing the current campaign message, and rapid response. Social networking and community building. Voter registration. To name just a few aspects.

Meanwhile, back here in K-12 Land . . .

Update 10-14-08: Thanks to BenH in the comments, this story is now confirmed.


  1. While I think that some advertisements on video games could be a bad thing, I think presedential campaigning is actually a good thing. It is just one way to spread the word about politics as well as the importance of voting. As long as the advertisements aren't mean or hateful towards another candidate, I agree that they are good for video gamers

  2. To be honest I think this is more annoying then anything else. I for one am quite fed up with seeing presidential ads everywhere I go. I wouldn't want them in my video games too. I am also wondering if only Obama ads are present in the game...if so then I agree with it even less. Both sides should be represented in a video game if they are going to be represented at all.

  3. @laurenc - As far as only one side being respresented, it's advertising. Just like radio ads, TV ads, web ads, etc., any candidate can choose what to buy and where to place the ad.

    As far as being sick of ads, well, yeah, there's definitely that.

  4. Mr. Fisch is right about the purchasing. The way these in game ads are modeled is just like a bus stop ad or billboard. If John McCain wanted to he could purchase even more than Obama. McCain was even approached by the company about the same sort of advertising.

    Another interesting tidbit: The Obama camp is only running these ads in 10 battleground states, and only on the 360 version.

    And in a poll among users of XBox Live, the online gaming service for Microsoft's XBox and the service that delivers these ads, Obama led McCain by 12%.