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The Boy Who Cried 'Advergame'
by Kim Pallister on 12/14/10 07:40:00 pm   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


[Ad-supported games may provide a way to lighten costs for gamers and developers alike, but has the market so soured on them that they are refusing to even look?]

Back in 2006, Microsoft did a deal with Burger King to do 3 BK-branded titles and distribute them with value meals at a nominal fee ($3.99). The fee aside, these were essentially free advertising-subsidized game titles for the console.

The three titles were met with lukewarm acceptance (Sneak King got a 54 on Metacritic, Big Bumpin a 63, Pocket Bike Racers a 54), with a nod of the head to the $3.99 price point.

Then the Toyota-sponosred Yaris came out, and was deservedly panned. A 17 on MC, which, well, you have to really try to score that low don't you?

Later, another ad-supported title, Doritos Dash of Destruction, came out and scored a 53, and yes, wasn't a very good game.

Then in the past week, two more Doritos-sponsored games were released on Xbox Live Arcade. "Harms Way", and "Doritos Crash Course". How did they do on Metacritic?

Well, no one has rated either one! Really? Not ONE critic review? Not one user review? [UPDATE: a single user review since I posted this] Really?

Is it possible that people have become so soured on sponsored titles that they just assume they are crap?

And here's the thing: I played Crash Course a while last night... and it's pretty good. Kind of a 'Trials-HD meets Ninja Warrior' using player avatars. Definitely better than a lot of games I've paid $10 for. Proof that the ad-supported model can work on console.

But only if people don't assume that they get what they pay for.

[Cross-posted from my personal blog with small edits.]

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Simon Carless
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Hmm. I was also impressed with Crash Course, esp. for the price! For what it's worth, I think a good job wasn't done in getting the game in front of reviewers - which is increasingly difficult for Metacritic-style reviewers, because they are super busy with the rash of retail games at Xmas.

I also suspect that there are definitely some games that are critic-proof, even on XBLA - like Deadliest Warrior the game has sold perfectly well, despite being Metacritic-ed badly.

But I do agree that people often look online for hints as to what to download on console, and if the market is either toasted on advergames, or Dorito's/Microsoft have done a poor job of promoting them (I didn't get any PR on either of them, although I'm not on all lists nowadays) then that would be a problem.

Matthew Ribkoff
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Given that people are subjected to advertising throughout the day, why would they ever seek it out?

Maurício Gomes
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Yet if you mention Cool Spot (7 up official game) lots of people go nostalgia crazy (maybe because they don't remember it was a advergame).

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No I don't want shovelware titles backed by the vast aimless power of corporate advertising clogging up the casual and indie market. This seems like an odd thing to argue for.

Kim Pallister
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>I don't want shovelware titles backed by

Neither do I. I'm just arguing that it seems like people are assuming that this is the case (that the games are shovelware) before even giving them the benefit of the doubt. In the case of Crash Course, the game is pretty good, and the advertising is very subtle. Certainly less intrusive than reaching into my wallet for $10.