It appears that in game advertising is here to stay. I’m not sure how I feel about this.
There are some definate benefits for game developers (or more usually/accurately publishers).
1. Alternative sources of revenue.
2. Potentially lower brand licensing fees (it’s advertising not licensing, etc).
3. Increased “realisim” in real world/near future themed games. The Splinter Cell’s series’ product placement for Sony Ericsson and Airwaves chewing gum for example.
Of course this new marketing avenue could very well be abused by publishers looking for more cash. Anyone remember Zool in the old 16bit console days. That game was an entirely unashamed advertising vehicle for Chupa Chups. Was it the first game with embedded advertising? It is certainly the first I remember, but no doubt there was a prior precedent.