There's a fine line between adding to realism with in-game advertising and blatantly selling out. One can actually improve the game's atmosphere, and the other is a quick road to riches. There is, however, another factor to consider. According to a new report, advertising in violent videogames can backfire and actually create a negative perception of the product being pitched, as well as lower brand recall.
Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin came up with that conclusion, and noted that women in particular are sensitive to ads in violent games.
"Although violent video games are very popular and can reach a young, highly engaged audience, their effectiveness as an advertising medium is questionable," said Jorge Peña, assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies and one of the study's authors. "Our study demonstrates that featured violence diminishes brand memory and primes more negative attitudes toward the brand."
Researchers carried out the study by dividing participants into two groups. One group played through a violet game with avaters brandishing guns and shooting it up in rooms covered in blood. The other group weaved their way through the same avatars, only they were weaponless and the rooms were soaked in water.
"Brand recall and recognition, and attitudes were significantly lower for participants who navigated violent videogames compared to those who navigated the non-violent videogames," according to the study. "Women that played the violent videogames developed even more negative brand attitudes than women exposed to the non-violent videogames (11.29 percent decrease in brand liking). This could be attributed to women typically having less experience playing violent videogames, or men -- who typically play more violent videogames -- being desensitized to the violence and not noticing it."
Does the study hold any merit? That's something advertisers would be wise to look into as spending on in-game advertising is expected to be a billion dollar industry next year.