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On Running Feuds
Gizmondo Proves to be Advertiser Friendly
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on May 22, 2005   |   Episode 56 (Show Archive)  


If Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols were dead, he would be rolling over in his grave right now!
Going into E3 there were a lot of questions surrounding the Gizmondo. Is it a game player? A media device? Camera and GPS unit? Yes, it's all those things, but there's also another side to the newest handheld on the block; a side that most gamers know nothing about and could potentially diminish their interest in this brand new portable. But your friends at Defunct Games aren't going to keep you in the dark; now that we have their 2005 Media packet and product guide we can safely state a few facts about the system, and just why you should be worried about the enhancements made to the Gizmondo.

While the 70 page product guide does explain the games and the systems cool features, it also manages to spend 12 full pages explaining a feature called "Smart Adds". Ignoring the fact that the abbreviation of

I'm sure they meant Smart Ads ... right?
the word "advertisement" is actually "ads", these adverts are a major focus for Gizmondo, and something that few gamers probably know much about.

I'll let Gizmondo explain just what these Smart Adds are and why you should be familiar with their little plan. "Most Gizmondo device buyers are aged between their late teens, [sic] and early thirties. They tend to be advertising literate, discerning individuals - and they expect to be treated that way by advertisers."

Okay, let's stop there for a moment. Just who are these advertising literate, discerning Gizmondo owners? The system hasn't been released yet so how can Gizmondo claim anything about their audience? Oh sure, they have

What's that you say, you don't think these girls know what the Gizmondo is? Didn't stop us from asking!
a target audience, but there's no way they can be so sure of who will actually buy their system. But I digress; it's actually the next line that presumes a little more than most people are comfortable with, see for yourself ...

"They [the Gizmondo owner] wants to receive advertising for products they are genuinely interested in. They respond to stylish ads and attractive offers."

They do? Do people really like advertising THAT much? When I'm watching TV I tend to want to skip the commercial breaks, regardless of whether or not I am interested in the product. Heck, I even complain to the movie theater when I have to sit through non-movie advertising before getting to the feature presentation. I am no fan of adverts and suspect that others feel very similar. So why would you want to watch commercials on your handheld gaming device? Why does this feature deserve so much attention?

Eventually we'll just have advertising pumped into our dreams so there will be no more need for TV!
"Smart Adds [sic] brings the best of TV advertising, delivered with accuracy of direct mail, to which the Gizmondo customer can respond to instantly (if they choose)." That's right, the Gizmondo is not only interested in playing games and music, it also wants you to watch the newest TV commercials and hottest promotions. The Gizmondo wants you to be connected to those huge corporations, and with their handheld there is never an excuse to miss a mind-numbingly stupid commercial for whatever it is you might be interested in.

But in the perfect world the Gizmondo would be more than just a TV commercial player, as explained in this hypothetical situation taken directly from their product guide: "A movie studio sends a 30 second clip of its new film to people that they know are interested in that type of movie. There might be an

Here is an example of what you would see if you were to buy a Gizmondo!
incentive to go and see the movie - perhaps a voucher for popcorn or drinks redeemable by simply presenting the Gizmondo to [the] cinema staff."

On the very next page they show a commercial for Sprite that gives Gizmondo owners a chance to buy one and get one free at their local 7-Eleven. The screen offers a map, a bar code, and a picture of what it is you should be looking for ... just in case you aren't as literate and discerning as they think you are. And don't worry, if you can't get enough advertising you can always request a longer preview to be sent to you for no extra charge.

Is it just me or does this Starbucks advert remind you of something?
So who are these advertising literate and discerning buyers anyway? According to the literature given to Defunct Games by Gizmondo, a full 83% of people ages 15 - 34 approve of relevant advertising. If that figure sounds fishy it might be because they only interviewed 1,017 people and conducted it in the UK. It also doesn't show what question they asked those 1,017 people ... chances are it was only about relevant advertising and the idea of having them on a handheld was never broached. I have a sneaking suspicion that if they had mentioned that you would be watching these adverts on your portable gaming device fewer people would have been into the idea, and they would never have been able to get away with such a bold statement.

But this is not the only bold statement found in the Gizmondo product book. Right at the end of their Smart Adds section they make a comment that would be extremely funny if it weren't for that fact that they were being deadly serious. According to Gizmondo, these adverts are not annoying events you get to put up with, but

rather "infectious, fun, high-quality ads - the type you save and show your friends." I can't even remember the last commercial I wanted to save to show my friends ... not that they would want to watch them anyway.

The bad news is that unless you plan on buying the most expensive model (which could run you over $400) you will simply have to put up with these Smart Adds. It's hard to believe, but the Gizmondo is going to be the first portable gaming device that actually requires you to download and watch advertising, all on the device you spend your hard earned money on. It's one thing to have advertising in billboard in video games, but when you start making people download and watch them on your game system that's going way too far. There are a lot of people that are genuinely curious about the Gizmondo, and I have a hunch once they learn that they need to watch TV commercials to make it run, their curiosity will move to something better ... like worrying about the economy and trying to run other peoples lives.


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