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Since the beginning of gaming, companies have noticed that video games could be used as a way for advertising their products. Thus the advertisement game was born.

An advertisement game, or "advergame" as they're usually called, is a particular sort of licensed video game that is meant to advertise a product, such as a food snack or clothing company. Few are available for retail release, with most preferring to be pack-in, freeware, or online.

As gamers (and parents) are not keen to such blatant marketing, many advertisement games instead opt for the stealthy route. They don't make it noticeable from the title that it's a marketing ploy and don't include blatant Product Placement from the get go. Sometimes this works, however other times gamers can still notice and word of mouth will spread. Tropes Are Not Bad, however, as some advergames have become Cult Classics or have even reached popularity despite being created to market products.

Compare to Merchandise-Driven, Licensed Game, and Product Placement.


Examples:

First-Person Shooters

  • Duty Calls is a game that parodies military first-person shooter games such as Call of Duty and Medal of Honor. It was a covert advergame meant to advertise another game, Bulletstorm.
  • Chex Quest is a 1996 mod of DOOM that was given away in boxes of Chex Quest cereal.

Miscellaneous

  • Millsberry was an online game that was in service from 2004 to 2010. It advertised General Mills and their various food products. Millsberry is one of the most well-known example as, despite being a marketing tool, it was still a fun game where you could create your own house, interact with others, and play games similar to Neopets.
  • Pepsi Man is a Japanese-only Playstation game that advertises for Pepsi. It uses one of their mascots, PEPSIMAN, and is an Endless Running Game.
  • Chase the Chuck Wagon is a 1983 video game for the Atari 2600 meant to advertise Purina dog food. It was available through mail order by sending in proofs of purchase to Purina. It's a simple maze game.

Platformers

  • Doritos Crash Course is a Xbox Arcade game for the Xbox 360 meant to market Doritos chips.
  • McDonald's Treasure Land Adventure is a platformer for the Sega Genesis, released by Treasure in 1993, advertising McDonald's. Ronald McDonald finds a piece of a treasure map, leading to a treasure hunt, and his friends, including Hamburglar, Birdie, and Grimace all appear in the game to help him along his quest.
  • Cool Spot is a platformer starring an anthropomorphized version of the red spot from the logo of 7-Up soft drink, which was part of an advertising campaign in the 1990s.

Puzzle Games

  • Grow Clay is an advergame spinoff of the GROW series in partnership with a Japanese company called TECROSS.

Racing Games

  • 1989's Vette is an early example. It was a racing game that advertised the Chevrolet Corvette. In it, you raced around San Francisco in a 3D environment. It also came with a chance to win a trip to San Francisco.

Role-Playing Games

  • The RPG-style Darkened Skye is an advergame for Skittles candy. However, some sources say the dev team payed for the right to use the brand instead of the other way around. Nevertheless, it contains Skittles scattered around that give the protagonist abilities.

Simulation Games

Fictional examples:

Webcomics


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