The Opportunities in New Gaming Consoles

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After a hard day’s work, many people find it therapeutic to focus on something completely different for a while. Some people choose a book, other people opt for a movie, and still others prefer the total immersion of a video game. Over the last three decades, gaming has advanced from Space Invaders on the Atari 2600 into the virtual reality era of today. From a marketing viewpoint, the latest consoles also present an exciting opportunity to make use of cutting-edge advertising techniques.

The results are in: next-generation gaming consoles make it even easier for consumers to retreat into a virtual world. After all, they’re designed to offer the most realistic gaming experience possible to as many people as possible. Modern gaming consoles also connect gamers to one another via an Internet-based network, making the gaming experience even more engrossing.

The newest gaming consoles include the Microsoft Xbox One and the Sony PlayStation 4, which were officially released a week apart in November 2013. Both consoles are equipped with exciting new features and draw on the legacy of their successful predecessors. Microsoft describes its Xbox One as “the ultimate all-in-one entertainment system.” The second generation of the software company's renowned motion-sensing device, Kinect, is built into each console.

Not to be outdone, Sony’s PlayStation 4 comes with its own set of bells and whistles. The device’s new look isn’t just chassis deep: its internal technology has also changed. In addition, players can stream games to the PlayStation Vita, access online apps like Netflix, and explore a host of other additional features at no extra cost.

Given their strategically engineered console release dates, Microsoft and Sony are bound to face off over the holiday season. Marketing tactics at both companies have been elevated to Super Bowl proportions as the Xbox One and the PS4 prepare to battle for the media spotlight in November and December. Microsoft’s television advertising campaign bundles almost every conceivable entertainment figure into a series of ads designed to target consumers’ digital taste buds. Meanwhile, Sony's tactical approach is a blow-by-blow trip through PlayStation history, meant to stir its audience in a nostalgic manner.

Because of the realistic environments inherent in next-generation gaming consoles, marketing shops can put some pretty innovative advertising schemes into play. Consoles like the Xbox One and the PS4 represent the next incarnation of devices made to operate in an alternative universe—a universe made entirely out of data. In a way, manufacturers like Microsoft and Sony have created something a bit like The Matrix.

Branded advertising has a new holiday home in the virtual gaming environment—and it’s an exciting prospect. Advertising doesn’t even have to look like advertising any more: it can be as simple as a strategically placed cola can in a two-minute branded ad skit. Instead of popup ads or flashy banners, you or your clients can build entertaining scenes that fit into the game-based universe beautifully. Because they’re being entertained, gamers are much more likely to assimilate the information included in branded marketing campaigns.

Gaming consoles have offered fans a way to unwind and escape stress for decades. As the gaming industry moves further away from Pac-Man and closer to the holodeck, it has also opened up a whole new media-based world. Integrated advertising has been a part of the social networking scene for years, and now, it's found an even better outlet in the gaming console.


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