Gamers Don’t Like Ads During Breaks in Mobile Game Play

The mobile gaming ad model can turn product placement in free-to-play games into pay-to-win scams.

mobile game

mobile game

Mobile advertising is often handicapped by the very devices that it hopes to appear on. Mobile screens tend to be small, mobile ad units have little flexibility, and the ad has to interrupt something else to make its presence known. These problems persist within social apps — and gaming apps in particular.

Mobile advertising agency Mediaspike teamed up with data analysis company Interpret, and surveyed 200 mobile and tablet video game users between 18- and 49-years-old to find out how popular or unpopular mobile game advertising is among consumers.

The survey asked about four categories of advertising:

  1. Integration of brand into gameplay
  2. Banners visible during gameplay
  3. Ads show at breaks in gameplay
  4. Ads using in-game notifications

Product placement — or integration of brands into gameplay — was preferred by almost 40 percent of survey participants, and more than 35 percent said they were most likely to interact with that type of advertising. The second most preferred type of advertising was visible banners, which almost 30 percent preferred, but only 20 percent of respondents said they would interact with them.

The least-preferred method of advertising was ads shown during breaks in play. Thirty-five percent of respondents ranked this as least preferred, and more than 35 percent said they would not interact with it.

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While this data may sound interesting, these methods of advertising highlight some of the more egregious problems with the current free-to-play gaming market. Integrating advertising into a game, especially when it seems like an afterthought, can really damage the game’s reputation. When monetization is the goal of a mobile game, free-to-play becomes pay-to-win, or there isn’t much of a “game” involved at all.

The survey participants probably didn’t actually preferred brand integration and product placement — they simply disliked these methods the least. It isn’t much of a stretch to imagine that if the McDonalds’ car or the Pizza Hut gun are the best item in the game, it would require real-world money to purchase. Gaming, and mobile gaming specifically, is probably the only medium in the world that does things like this.

Granted, product placement within media properties isn’t new. But no other medium would consider the product placement core to the plot (unless maybe it’s Transformers). No other medium makes product placement a metric for winning. I mean, we’ve never seen Bruce Willis fail to beat the bad guy until he bought a bottle of Coke.