EA Kicking Off New In-Game Advertising Efforts With Madden Sweepstakes

Electronic Arts will give a new Chevy Cruze to the lucky player who masters the free version of Madden NFL 12 that became available for download this morning on Xbox and PlayStation.

The sponsorship is the first example of how EA expects to monetize demos of games going forward. The technology it built to do so is called EA Signal, which allows for advertising in demos, including the ability to insert videos of celebrity appearances and developer interviews or other tutorials into the game.

Brands and marketers can also conduct contests and sweepstakes inside games.

In the case of Madden NFL 12, EA is trying a little bit of everything the first time around. Along with the chance to win a car, the demo lets players watch videos and learn new elements of the game.

The videos feature Van Bernardino, who goes by the name “Prodigy” and is known in gaming circles for being a champion Madden NFL videogame player. In the video, he drives a Chevy Cruze down California’s coast to meet up with former New Orleans Saints halfback and Super Bowl champion Reggie Bush.

Together, Prodigy and Bush demonstrate how to play the game, and give specific instructions on how to run an “audible.” That’s when the quarterback decides to run a different play at the last minute and calls it out to his players.

If a player uses an audible to score a touchdown, he or she will receive a special code. The code must be entered on the Madden NFL 12 Facebook fan page for a chance to win a 2011 Chevy Cruze.

Most of EA’s big console releases have a demo, so this will only be the first of many brand partnerships.

Last year the Madden demo was played by more than two million gamers. Overall, EA says it reaches about 70 million users on both Xbox and PlayStation through its demos. That’s a sizeable audience.

“In the console environment, one of the great places to identify value is in the demo,” EA’s SVP Dave Madden said. “They are in a buying mode. It’s the right mind-set.”

The full version of Madden comes on Aug. 30, and the contest ends Sept. 30.

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