Can Virtual Test Drives Produce Real World Sales?

2012 Shelby GT500 Super Snake Need For Speed Edition

2012 Shelby GT500 Super Snake Need For Speed Edition

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Ford began promoting its vehicles in video games with the 1995 release of Sega Rally, and since then the automaker has included its wares in over 250 million distributed racing and driving games.

The latest of these is the upcoming Need For Speed: The Run, which is set to hit the market on November 15. Ford will have four of its products in this game, including the Shelby Super Snake and the Taurus SHO-based Ford Police Interceptor.

It isn’t only Ford who’s betting that virtual performance can lead to real-world sales, either. Porsche has an exclusive arrangement with Electronic Arts (EA), the publisher of the Need For Speed franchise, to feature it’s cars in EA games.

Honda and Nissan fare well in the latest driving simulation games, too, and their products are often aimed squarely at the 15-35 year old male demographic that buys driving simulators.

Newer games, such as Gran Turismo 5 and Forza Motorsports 4 feature relatively accurate physics, so players get a good feel for how a virtual car will accelerate, corner and brake in real life.

The New York Times cites Ford’s success with video game product marketing, attributing a 36-percent increase in brand rating and a 28-percent increase in purchase consideration to that automaker’s presence in EA games.

GM also calls video game product marketing effective, although it lacks the hard numbers reported by Ford.

Those hard numbers are exceedingly difficult to translate into showroom sales, but anything that increases brand awareness and brand image has to help. Besides, it’s hard to beat the convenience of a virtual test drive from the comfort of your own living room.
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Comments (5)
  1. the games are soo much fun and shoudl be kept as a digital medium. i say ths because the driving styles used to take a corner in a game are completely different to real word sceanrios as the dynamics of the car are different. You wouldnt thrash a million dollar car in real life around a street with a foot of clearance from high imposing walls. what im trying to say is that so many young drivers now take corners like they do in games, coming out wide to turn in. This is cognicent of those people who are clearly taking the corner to fast and is what they believe is the right thing to do. and before i get hounded im no fuddy duddy, just a concerned driver as i have nearly been swiped by these reckless corner takers with their faux driving styl

  2. @WizardsLore, I agree that being fast on a virtual track doesn't translate to being fast on a real track. Unfortunately, a lot of new drivers don't understand this.

  3. @ Kurt i think the issue is the street driving that these influenced gamers partake in makes them think they can control a car at speed around a tight corner. When the dynamics (for all the revolutionary work in the big games like forza and GT5) is completely different. The stringency placed on driver tests has been lessened it seems to allow these actions to continue. This isnt all drivers, nor all young drivers, merely a samll percentage that as always causes issues for many. and to reaffirm what i say, jsut yesterday a car taking a corner too fast swiped a car as it turned and it caused 3 cars to havea n accident. No injuries thank god but it could have been so much worse.

  4. @WizardsLore, driving is one of those deceptively easy tasks, until it suddenly isn't. The average driver has no idea how sudden and violent a crash can be, and most feel "it won't happen to me."

    The differnece between life and video games? Real life doesn't allow restarts.

  5. ahhh the blind optimism of the driver who believes that all is well in their own little world haha.
    p.s still waiting on your response on the Mazda Turbo 2 article

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