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 Tools, however, as some advergames have become Cult Classics or have even reached popularity despite being created to market products.
- UFO Kamen Yakisoban, a series of commercials based around a ramen-themed superhero, got a tie-in beat-em-up game on SNES. It was originally a lottery prize, but Nissin received so many entries it got a full retail release.
- Super Smash Bros. may not have started this way, but later installments in the series definitely lean into this trope; a slightly unusual example, as it advertises other video games rather than food and the like. This direction reached its zenith when Steve and Alex of Minecraft, the best-selling video game of all time, were included as downloadable characters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. (According to series creator Masahiro Sakurai, an admitted fan of the game, he was initially opposed to the idea due to the astronomical amount of programming work that would be required to make them play like, well, Minecraft, but the executives had dollar signs in their eyes.) To its credit, the series' Dream Match Game nature meant this shift went over fairly well, and many in the fan base have embraced this idea and vocally support their favorite characters joining the Smash roster.
- 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.
- Pepsiman is a Japanese-only PlayStation game that advertises for Pepsi. It uses one of their mascots, Pepsiman, and is an Endless Running Game.
- Nexgame, a Flash-made spiritual sequel made to advertise Pepsi Nex (the Japanese only equivalent to Coca-Cola Zero).
- 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.
- The Walt Disney World Explorer is not even a game, but a computer application with slideshows and videos released in 1996 with an Updated Re-release in 1998 that was ultimately made to promote the Walt Disney World Resort. The "advertising" part worn away over the years.
- The ''Wonka'' division of Nestle had a website and a couple dozen games to advertise its products. For example, "Gobstopper Gobbler" was Pac-Man with an Everlasting Gobstopper and Shock Tarts, Bottle Caps, and Runts taking the place of the energizers, dots, and fruits, and "Nerds Rope" was a "snake" game with puzzle elements.
- Doritos Crash Course is a downloadable game for the Xbox 360 meant to market Doritos chips. This one actually received a short-lived sequel.
- 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.
- World Gone Sour is a 2011 platformer based off of Sour Patch Kids candy. It was published by Capcom and released on the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 4.
- Daymare Cat is a platformer set in Daymare Town that features the music of Canadian singer-songwriter Cat Jahnke, and ends with a link to buy an album.
- Grow Island and Grow Valley are advertissment games for the Shibaura Institute of Technology.
- Grow Clay is an advergame for the Japanese company "TECROSS".
- Submachine: FLF is a side-story Submachine game advertising the UK group Future Loop Foundation. (The HD download version removes the advertising, since you're already paying for the game.)
- 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.
- Christmas Shopper Simulator is a highly successful stealth example. It came off of the bandwagon of similar "goofy and intentionally broken simulation games" such as Goat Simulator, and it was a freeware title, so many people didn't think much of it. It was in fact a marketing tool for GAME, a UK retail store.
- Homestuck: Dave briefly plays a game titled either Grand Snacks Fuckyeah or Mad Snacks Yo, a skateboarding game where you have to "get this way rude hunger under control" by collecting brand-name snack foods. The 3D environments are poorly modeled and prone to trapping the player, forcing them to reset.