Microsoft has cut a deal with a company called Suunto, Inc. for integrated product placement in Xbox-exclusive golf title Links 2004, according to JAM International Partners, who brokered the deal.
When Links 2004 launches later this year (sources close to Microsoft are suggesting December 5th), the game will contain Suunto's brand mark and prominently feature the Suunto G9 golf wristop computer throughout.
According to MS Game Studios COO Shane Kim, this is just the start. "Our goal in working with JAM International Partners is to maximise new revenue streams through paid product placements in games," he said yesterday.
"We are aggressively working with JAM International Partners to secure deals with numerous other brand companies for games currently in development at Microsoft Game Studios," he added.
The deal is Suunto's first in the world of videogame product placement, according to Michael Oxman, Managing Director of JAM International Partners' Chicago Office. "Like many companies looking for ways to increase brand visibility and demonstrate their product features and benefits, Suunto recognised that associating the Suunto G9 with Links 2004 would provide a new, interactive, and non-traditional form of brand communication targeted specifically to golf enthusiasts," he said.
However product placement in games is nothing new. Games like Crazy Taxi, with its numerous fast food restaurants, Tower Record stores and other forms of branding, have been flying off the shelves for years. Even Sega's peculiar Super Monkey Ball was decked out with Dole Food Company logos - curious though it was to those of us skiving off work to play Japanese import copies.
On the Xbox itself, last Christmas' top-selling stealth title Splinter Cell featured a Palm-based PDA device, and by the sound of it, Microsoft is planning to get in on the act in a big way very soon.