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Looking to do in-game advertising? Don’t follow the example of these brands

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Uncharted 3

Sony and Subway teamed up in 2011 for the release of Uncharted 3, a game about the thrill of hunting for treasure in the farthest reaches of the natural world. That might not seem like an ideal fit for a fast food restaurant tie-in, but the two companies went ahead and did it anyway.

Not only did the deal result in the cringe-worthy commercial below, but it also put Subway-branded items in the multiplayer mode of the game. There’s just nothing else to say…

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker designer Hideo Kojima, on a self-proclaimed mission to “surprise players”, littered the world of Solid Snake with the most blatant product placement this side of a grocery store shelf.

From Axe body spray and Mountain Dew to Doritos chips, not only can you find these products floating in mid-air in the game itself, but you can also dress your character in t-shirts featuring all of the brands’ logos.

The game’s designers wanted to make sure you associated these endorsements with peak health. As such, it turned chips and soda into power-ups that could restore your health and psyche. And should you actually die with Doritos or fizzy drinks in your inventory, they will bring you back to life. Needless to say, however, many weren’t happy about the blatant product placement.

Phantasy Star Portable 2

Out of all the in-game advertising, however, nothing stands out quite as much as having the option to equip your character with… Pizza Hut weapons of all things.

While Ninja Turtles or Crazy Taxi teaming with Pizza Hut makes sense, few would’ve predicted that the Japanese version of PSP title Phantasy Star Portable 2 would team with the chain. Even fewer would guess it’d result in wearable pizza box armour and weapons!

You could outfit them with a pizza box shield and hand them a pizza pan weapon. Imagine fighting via sticking a pizza in your enemy’s face, and good luck blocking an attack with a discarded square of cardboard.

The game publisher also did a deal with KFC at the same time, so developers decided to incorporate Colonel Sanders into the game

Dead Rising 2

Dead Rising 2 is an open-world zombie survival game. Due to the intended adult-centric tone and the vast amount of virtual advertising real estate available in Fortune City, the developers thought that some outside-the-box thinking was needed to really sell the place. As such, it decided to partner with Playboy.

Players couldn’t wander around Fortune City without noticing the numerous Playboy posters, ads, and billboards that were scattered throughout the place. But Playboy’s involvement doesn’t stop there. 

As part of the game’s “magazine system”, magazines could be picked up for stat and gameplay bonuses. Having an in-game Playboy in your hand when you rescue a female survivor grants you an experience bonus. You can even save a woman survivor who is dressed up as a Playboy Bunny.

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