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The online gaming craze is showing no signs of cooling off. An advertising agency and a university get prepared for the long haul & big profits.

The gaming craze is showing no signs of cooling off. An advertising agency and a university get prepared for the long haul & the big profits. Remember our March article about in-game brand and product placements? As the gaming craze — offline and online — is showing no signs of cooling off, more and more established parties are jumping on the bandwagon. For example: McDonald’s and Intel are already spending more than USD 2 million on their virtual presence in the Sims community. And in a Disney game out this fall, players collect Nokia ringtones and deliver McDonald’s burgers. To put gaming into perspective: according to the Interactive Digital Software Association, 60% of all Americans play games. That’s 145 million consumers. They bought 221 million computer and video games in 2002, almost two per household. And the gaming industry is larger than the motion picture box office in terms of revenue, plus it’s growing at three times the pace. Two new business ideas that are looking to cash in on the numbers above: — Starcom Media Vest, a unit of Paris-based marketer Publicis Groupe, recently launched Play, the first advertising/placements agency that will focus specifically on the USD 10.3 billion gaming market. In their own words: “we are excited to capitalize on video game contents and formats to convey our clients’ branding messages to a massive and influential consumer audience.” Play comprises a team of ten marketing professionals who will operate from offices in Chicago and Los Angeles. — Meanwhile, universities are gearing up to provide the burgeoning gaming industry with qualified video-game designers. Latest addition to the roster of universities ‘getting into the game’: Southern Methodist University’s new Guildhall school of video game making. The Dallas-based eighteen month-program offers specializations in art creation, level design, and software development. Guildhall will have regular professors, but the school’s real selling point will be game luminaries such as members of id Software Inc., maker of the famed ‘Doom’ and ‘Quake’ games. The games industry employs about 30,000 in the United States, and demand is expected to grow by about 15 percent, or 5,000 jobs a year. (Sources: Business Week, ABQjournal.)

Opportunities

If you’re in marketing, developing your company’s in-game advertising strategy is time well spent: if your products and services are not popping up in the likes of Tomb Raider or Final Fantasy, something might be amiss. And if you’re in advertising and know *something* about gaming: open up your own in-game placement agency as fast as you can, it’s a big world out there (anyone mentioned South Korea yet?) and agencies like ‘Play’ are really just the beginning!

Website: www.thesimsonline.com/

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