In a world that has long endured lengthy YouTube advertisements and embraces free, ad-supported streaming services, it was only a matter of time before companies would turn their marketing gaze upon the video game industry in a big way. And according to a recent scoop at Axios, a new advertising platform known as playerWON seeks to transform all sorts of games — but especially F2P fare — into a bold new marketing venue.
The service, which kicks into high gear beginning this week, is owned and operated by a company called Simulmedia. Historically, Simulmedia has operated within the traditional TV ad space. But now, after striking deals with gaming industry giants like Electronic Arts and Tencent, the opportunity has arisen for developers to attach full-scale commercials into their games in a multitude of fashions. One such pitch involves providing people with the option to watch these ads in exchange for unique loot — a perfect fit for games like Fortnite.
Free-to-play gaming has taken up a tremendous portion of industry real estate, with Fortnite creator Epic Games valued at nearly $30 billion as of April. To be sure, plenty of that is thanks to the Epic Games Store. But plenty more comes directly from hardcore fans who purchase all those snazzy paid guns and skins with cold hard cash.
It All Comes Down to Percentages
Yet Simulmedia’s Executive Vice President of Gaming and OTT services, Dave Madden, is quick to point out that the number of players actively engaging with these in-game cash shops is actually rather slim. “The acceleration of free-to-play games across console and PC, like Fortnite, Apex Legends, Call of Duty: Warzone and Roblox,” Madden tells Axios, “means that audiences and play time have seen explosive growth, yet the vast majority of players, over 90%, never spend money in free-to-play games.”
Needless to say, that 90% majority is viewed as an incredible missed opportunity among publishers. Just imagine how much Epic Games would be worth if there was a financial uptick of just 20% more players giving them their money, one way or another. This ties in superbly well with what playerWON is designed to do: offer in-game advertisements to lure in a highly lucrative market. Not just any market, either — the youngest advertising demographic — 18-to-34-year-olds — is largely comprised of cord-cutters whom companies like Simulmedia have a tough time reaching otherwise.
You Can Still Say No… For Now, At Least
Since ad revenue is substantially greater when viewers watch the full videos rather than skipping ahead, playerWON plans to stream the advertisements into games directly through their servers. What this means is the further assurance to publishers that they’ll earn every prospective penny of your time.
Thankfully, it seems the plan is to allow players to opt-in of their own accord. This is to say that, hypothetically, should Electronic Arts decide to incorporate advertisements into a game like Apex Legends, you won’t be forced to deal with commercials before and between play sessions. But if you’re the sort who sees other players rocking exclusive gear and needs to do the same, you may soon be watching a lot of ads purporting to save you 10% on your car insurance by switching to a certain insurance company with a lizard for a spokesman.