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Hideo Kojima wanted to put ‘corporate ads’ in his own game

Hideo Kojima nearly added adverts to an old Nintendo DS game in an attempt to lower its retail price, but dropped the idea after others didn’t support it.

Speaking about Lunar Knights – a Nintendo DS JRPG released by Kojima Productions in 2007, and called Boktai DS in Japan – on Twitter, Kojima revealed his initial plans for the game. He wanted to use the upper screen of the Nintendo DS not for gameplay, but to show adverts to players.

“We set the upper screen of the Boktai DS version [to] a 'pseudo-sun'. What I wanted to do was to put 'corporate ads' on the upper screen and use the revenue from those ads to lower the price of the packaged product (almost free),” Kojima tweeted.

“I gave it up because there were not many supporters and there were many obstacles to overcome, but it is not a rare project now.”

In the final version of Lunar Knights, the Nintendo DS’s upper screen is used to display the game’s paraSOL weather control system. Players can see whether the sun or moon are currently shining in the game’s world and whether they’re obscured by clouds. These weather conditions determine the energy and abilities of the game's two main playable characters.

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Adverts aren’t uncommon

Kojima is no stranger to putting adverts in his games. The Metal Gear Solid series has seen numerous instances of product placement. The CalorieMate energy supplement that restores Naked Snake’s stamina in Metal Gear Solid 3 is styled after a real Japanese energy bar, and Metal Gear Solid 4 features numerous Apple and Sony products.

PSP spin-off Peace Walker included a bunch of tie-ins, too, spanning Pepsi cans, Doritos packets, and Axe deodorant. Kojima acknowledged the product placement in that game back in 2010, tweeting: “I want to surprise users. Collaboration will stop when surprises and freshness disappear. It's different from Hollywood-style merchandising” (translated by Google).

Kojima’s hardly the only one to advertise products in his games. Battlefield 2042 included Logitech playercards soon after its launch, Alan Wake featured its fair share of Verizon billboards, and Mario Kart 8 added a bunch of free Mercedes-Benz cars in 2014.

Kojima's proposed adverts in Lunar Knights, however, were markedly different. He says he wanted to include the ads to allow Konami to release the game at a far lower price. It's a similar reason behind the screensaver-style adverts for the Amazon Kindle, which notionally lower the retail cost of the e-reader.

We'll have to see whether Kojma follows the trend and includes a bunch of product placement in Metal Gear Solid 6. If the game ever appears, that is.

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