New advertising venue found by companies in online gamesIf it sells more riceballs, then it must be effective: Companies are now branching out into online computer games as a new venue for advertisements, teaming with convenience stores to double-up on product promotion.
Similar to product placement in television dramas or films, companies are paying to incorporate their products inside the game graphics and creating promotional offline events that correspond to online games.
Family Mart, a convenience store chain, recently held a promotional event with Nexon, the developer of the popular online racing game “Kart Rider.”
It created a “Kart Riceball Set” which contained coupons with codes for special tools that can be used in the Kart Rider game.
Family Mart officials said that sales of the special set were five times higher than that of other seasoned riceballs. Sales of all riceballs were up by 30 percent as a result.
Nexon receives about $5 million in revenue from selling cyber accessories for use during “Kart Rider” games per month. That figure also includes product placement ads sold by Nexon and seen by gamers while they play “Kart Rider.”
“Game players start from teens to people in their 30s; in the case of Kart Rider, up to 220,000 players are logged in at the same time, so we can get a lot of coverage,” a Family Mart official said. “It is also cheaper than television or print ads.”
Mobile phone operator KTF also held a recent “Kart Rider” event offering items to people who signed up for its Biggie mobile service plan. On the first day, its Web site was overloaded because of excess traffic, and more than 100,000 people signed up on the site within a few days.
Hyundai Oilbank paid to feature its Oilbank gas stations in CTRacer, an online racing game that takes place on the streets of Seoul. About 20 other companies also have “indirect” ads in the game: in-car navigation service provider Pontus has its navigators installed in every car; Sega has billboards on the street.
On the game portal site Pmang run by the company Neowiz, promoters for the Korean movie “Marathon” asked to have scenes from the movie used as images for a game in which one hunts for differences in two similar pictures.
One of the more original ads was one for BBQ, a fried chicken delivery chain. In a closed test session for the fantasy role-playing game Shaiya, which will officially launch later this month, users can hunt chickens in the game.
Implanted in some of the chickens were “coupons” that had a serial number. Gamers can receive free chicken by using the coupons. Companies say that advertising through games is effective, especially since Korea’s online gaming population is rapidly growing.
“In other countries, young men are primary game players, but in Korea, a lot of young women and even elderly people play online games, because of the huge online arcade and card game market,” a Neowiz official said.
by Wohn Dong-hee
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