How do you feel about an advertiser, in essence, paying for you to play a game that revolves around an advertised subject? As Gareth van Zyl has found out, adver-gaming is not only prevalent amongst big global companies such as BMW

Tags: Bayerische Motoren Werke (www.bmw.com)Economic crisisGamesUnited Arab Emirates
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By  Gareth Van Zyl Published  August 17, 2009

An example of an adver-game is the BMW M3 challenge game that came out last year, and many of us have at one stage or another played other adver-games. An adver-game, therefore, is a game in which the advertisement becomes the main subject of the game play.

If done well and if it has good gameplay, then adver-gaming can really help in terms of creating a stronger brand presence. On the flipside, like a free lunch, it’s a free game and the verdict is out about whether anyone cares if it’s an effective form of advertising or not.

Adver-games development exists in the Middle East as well however. I was recently sent some information about adver-gaming in the Middle East by a company called Hyzonia. What Hyzonia do is that they develop ‘adver-games’ through which the company says advertisers can reach and engage specific target audiences based on their intersest, location, age and gender; and then monitor these results in real time.

Hyzonia develops virtual worlds that offer light weight games that could be played from anywhere with an internet connection; and the company has got a lot of attention in so far as it received the ‘Microsoft Technology’ and ‘Best Strategic Entertainment Online Portal’ awards at the recent 2009 ‘Pan Arab Web Awards’.

This, in particular got me thinking about what all this means for the advertising industry as whole. With publications closing down all over the world, video games are proving to be the one resilient medium that could reel in advertisers, especially free video games.

The fact is that gaming is growing and not just appealing to the lonely teenager in his bedroom anymore. When I was at a press event recently that unveiled this year’s GAMES 09 Trade Show in Dubai; it was quite clear that even the organisers of this event are targeting a wider audience to include families as well.

And with a recession that is clearly not going to be shaken off easily, the reality is that people are still going to be staying at home a lot more and looking to find alternative means of entertainment. Now is clearly the time to be in the Games industry, even adver-gaming.

Gareth Van Zyl is the deputy editor of Windows Middle East English.

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