Sport Video Game Sponsorships and In-Game Advertising

Sport Video Game Sponsorships and In-Game Advertising

Beth A. Cianfrone (Georgia State University, USA) and James J. Zhang (University of Florida, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-406-4.ch017
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Abstract

This chapter introduces the new and unique sport promotional format of sport video game sponsorships and in-game advertising. Information on the growth of sport video games, unique features of this segment of the sport industry, and financial and technical value of in-game advertising and sponsorships are first introduced. Extensive discussions are made on the advantage of sport video games as a marketing tool and the importance of assessing the effectiveness of in-game advertising and sponsorships. The need to systematically understand consumer motivation and market demand for sport video games is highlighted. This chapter concludes with recognizing contemporary issues and recommended solutions.
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Introduction

Sport video games are consistently a popular genre of video games. A part of their popularity is attributed to the visual likeness and authenticity of the games with traditional televised sports. In a merging of the classic business relationship between sports and advertising, corporations are advertising within sport video games as an avenue to reach sport fans, while the advertisements contribute to the realism of the game. This chapter introduces the new and unique sport promotional format of sport video game sponsorships and in-game advertising. The characteristics of sport video games (e.g., interactive, fantasy based, realistic and repetitive nature); the dynamics between the stakeholders (e.g., gaming publishers, the sport organizations, and in-game advertising firms); and the demographics of the target market (e.g., 18-34 year old males who have shifted their media consumption from television to video games) are discussed in relation to their impact on sport video game sponsorships. Various types of sponsorships and in-game advertising in sport video games, and their integration, are also explored. Contemporary research on the marketing effectiveness of sport video game sponsorships and in-game advertising, as well as consumer motivations associated with the demand of playing sport video games, is reviewed.

Specifically, the objectives of this chapter are to provide readers with information in the following areas:

  • 1.

    The growing trend of sport video games.

  • 2.

    The uniqueness of sport video game products.

  • 3.

    The financial and functional values of in-game advertising and sponsorships.

  • 4.

    Congruence of target markets between sport video games and sponsors.

  • 5.

    Advantages associated with in-game advertising and sponsorships.

  • 6.

    Measurement issues associated with studying the effectiveness of in-game advertising and sponsorships.

  • 7.

    Basic concepts of motivational factors associated with the consumption of sport video games.

  • 8.

    Contemporary issues, problems, and recommended solutions.

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Sport Video Games Background

Sport video games have become a popular form of entertainment and a growing segment of the $24.5 billion worldwide gaming industry [Entertainment Software Association (ESA), 2007]. The sport video game genre is among the top video game sales in total business transactions each year and represented 17% of the total console video game units sold in 2006 (ESA, 2007). In the United States (U.S.), the best selling console video game in 2006 was an American football game, Electronic Arts (EA) Sports Madden NFL 07 on the PlayStation2 format, with 1.8 million units sold. Another 825,000 units were sold in the Xbox 360 format (“Top Ten”, 2007). In fact, during its first week of sales, Madden NFL 07 grossed $100 million in retail sales (“First-Week”, 2006). Generally speaking, sport video games are a growing segment of both the sport and entertainment industries.

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