Saturday, December 17, 2005

Russian Experience in In-Game Brand Integration

Russian in-game ad agency Enter Media (rus) worked with Nival Interactive, creators of the game "Night Watch" to integrate the Alfa Bank Express (rus) brand. The RPG tactic game, released in August 2005, is based on the namesake sci-fi book trilogy and a blockbuster movie about the struggle between the vampires (the baddies) and the Others (humans with supernatural abilities) and set in the modern-day Moscow. The movie was widely criticized as being a sell-out because of the amount of what the viewing public recognized as blatant product placement, although the author claimed on his blog (rus) that he had received no payment for the brand mentions in the books.

Besides billboards, Enter Media created an innovative format they call "office space", a branded functional environment seamlessly interrogated into the general game space. The format seems to be a fairly standard offering, with a price tag of $0.05 per office per game. Enter Media's price list example calculates the cost of $25,000 for creating 20 Alfa Bank offices throughout the game that is expected to sell 50,000 copies.

Enter Media's formats are split into three price tiers based on the level of interaction between the ad units and the players. The "surface" tier is the cheapest at $0.02 per contact (ad occurrence/physical game unit). The most expensive, at $0.10 is "integration", which apparently means integrating the brand into a story line or making interaction with the brand a winning condition, although the details are not spelled out. Alfa Bank's office space is categorized as a mid-tier format that the agency calls "immersion".

The ATMs located in the bank offices function as automated merchants. The one above offers "health kits" (magic apples and candies), a sword and a power-up.

Keywords: Lukianenko, Alfa Bank Express, Enter Media, Nival Interactive, Night Watch, interactive brand integration, in-game billboards, vending machines.

  • Enter Media presentation (powerpoint slides, in Russian, accessed online on Dec. 16, 2005).
  • Enter Media presentation by Vladimir Vainer (conference transcript, in Russian, accessed online on Dec. 16, 2005).
  • Alfa Bank Express's website, accessed online on Dec. 16, 2005
  • A blog post made on Nov.29, 2005 by Sergey Lukianenko, author of the Night Watch properties, blogging online as Doctor Livsy, accessed online on Dec 16, 2005.
  • Nival Interactive's website for the Night Watch game, accessed online on Dec.16, 2005

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