Video game experiences could be the future of marketing, say experts

The virtual worlds of video games are becoming an important way to reach people to sell them products, according to a senior figure at car giant Ford.

Speaking on the first day of video games convention Gamescom in Germany, Ford marketing vice president in Europe Roelant de Waard said a good virtual experience in one of the company's cars could help draw gamers to the brand in reality.

The car firm was at the event to unveil its new Ranger Raptor pick-up truck - the first time a car has been debuted at the gaming show - while also confirming it will appear in an upcoming racing game.

(Martyn Landi/PA)
(Martyn Landi/PA)

"Gamescom is a great place to show our coolest and most special stuff," he said.

"This is a hugely popular show, and now with more than two billion gamers in the world, there shouldn't be any doubt that this is a very relevant audience."

The convention opens to the public on Wednesday, when more than 350,000 people are expected to attend to try out the current and upcoming titles and technologies on display.

Fifa 19, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and battle royale game Fortnite are all among the well-known games appearing at the event.

As part of its announcement, Ford's new car will also appear in upcoming Xbox racing game Forza Horizon 4.

The gaming giant's marketing manager Aaron Greenberg said the game was a "great way to drive a car you've always dreamed of driving", and that the ever-improving realism of video games meant they were increasingly becoming comparable to real experiences.

Gaming expert and senior editor at Pocket-lint, Rik Henderson, said the blurring divide between games and reality - particularly in racing games - meant virtual experiences could be used to sell vehicles and teach key skills.

"Cars and games have always been intrinsically linked - older gamers will fondly remember the Ferrari Testarossa from 80s classic Out Run, for example," he said.

"However, as games have become more simulation in nature and driving physics have greatly improved, the opportunities for car manufacturers to attract the next generation of drivers through virtual versions of their vehicles are greater.

"Indeed, driving games are becoming so accurate that even driving schools could adopt simulators in the near future. Teach a learner in a virtual car where they can develop the skills without the danger before taking to the actual road for the first time."

Gamescom is open to visitors until August 25.

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