In another sign that in-game advertising has come of age, the Obama campaign has placed ads urging early voting inside the video game Burnout Paradise. The game, a popular racing title for the XBox 360, has been featuring billboards for the Democratic nominee while players race each other online.
While the story has bounced around the blogosphere for the past week, the possibility of the image to the right being a Photoshop fakery has made me leery of writing about it. But now, Wagner James Au over GigaOm has confirmed the campaign is attempting to reach out to gamers:
“I can confirm that the Obama campaign has paid for in-game advertising in Burnout,” Holly Rockwood, director of corporate communications at Electronic Arts, the game’s publisher, told me via email, noting that EA regularly allows ad placements in their online games. “Like most television, radio and print outlets, we accept advertising from credible political candidates,” she continued. “Like political spots on the television networks, these ads do not reflect the political policies of EA or the opinions of its development teams.”
According to BrandWeek, 11 percent of gamers say that they sought out a brand after seeing it in a game. With the Obama campaign relying on young voter turnout the XBox community seems a wise place to invest. Thought, does the campaign even need to spend dollars there? A recent poll of XBox users found Obama winning 43 percent of the vote, while McCain garnered the support of 31 percent of gamers.
With nearly a third of US households owning a Xbox 360, Sony PS3 or Nintendo Wii, this will not be the last time politicians pitch towards denizens of online worlds. It will be interesting to see what brands follow them into virtual spaces.