Video games have become more than simple forms of entertainment; they are now veritable sources of marketing, competing with television and films for consumer dollars.
The Financial Post reports that in 2007, video games generated $9.5 billion in revenues, just shy of the $9.6 billion that movies claimed at the box office. The scope extends beyond the traditional audiences of the past. Currently, players come from all types of demographic profiles, both genders, all age groups, most developed countries and even in various role-playing modes (single-player, family, etc).
Gaming has penetrated the car market for more than a decade. With games such as Gran Turismo, Project Gotham Racing and Need for Speed, enthusiasts and mainstream consumers alike are coming into contact with product placement and brands that influence their perceptions.
According to research from directors at Carleton College and the University of Alberta, gamers absorb brand recognition more readily than spectators. As told in an article posted by the researchers in Financial Post, the group designed a study to test the relationship between video game users and the content within the game.
Focusing attention on brands and vehicle recognition, two groups of people were recruited to participate in an experiment to discover how their interaction with components of the game influenced their identity to those items.
Based on the popular game Project Gotham Racing, the groups were assigned one of two tasks: play the game individually or watch someone else as they play. The level of engagement was hypothesized to affect the overall recognition of the brands and vehicles featured. The results proved to be significant. Between the two groups, those who played the game had a substantially higher level of association to the vehicles they drove.
Conversely, those who simply witnessed the game were passive observers and did not hold the same level of enthusiasm towards the products. The study indicated a high level of agreement between the virtual world and the real world.
SEMA Show - Gran Turismo “Best of Show” Award; Infiniti G37
For the past six years, Gran Turismo (published by Sony Computer Entertainment America) has given awards to SEMA Show exhibitors as selected by the game’s producer, Kazunori Yamauchi. Five divisional awards are given with an additional designation for Best of Show. Winners from the 2008 SEMA Show include:
- Best Domestic: '67 Chevrolet Camaro Rally Sport (James Shipka)
- Best Truck/SUV: '38 Chevy (John Wargo)
- Best Japanese Import: 2007 Infiniti G37 (JR Rocha)
- Best European Import: Volkswagen Concept Car (Robert Gal)
- Best Hot Rod: The Factory Five Racing '33 Hot Rod (Jason Lavigne)
SEMA’s 2008 Automotive Lifestyles Survey collected the thoughts of more than 3,000 enthusiasts, of which 1,100 had owned and played video games during the past year. Their demographic information indicates that the audience of video games does extend beyond teenagers.
For more original market research, visit www.sema.org/research.