Every good sci-fi dystopian fiction has to address the invasive nature of advertising amidst advanced technology. With Alexa [https://www.inverse.com/article/45232-alexa-recording-conversation-amazon-explains-how-it-happened-privacy-security) in 2018 and conspiracies about advertisers lurking in every laptop camera and microphone, the capitalists of the future will have to up their game to reach consumers. The upcoming video game Cyberpunk 2077 hints at what the future might be like.
Game developer CD Projekt Red released a 48-minute gameplay demo for Cyberpunk 2077 on Tuesday in which the main character explores the futuristic Night City. Blade Runner 2049 and Ghost in the Shell have huge holograms that overwhelm the senses with advertisements in similar worlds, but in Cyberpunk 2077, the invasive ads that the player sees come off as much more practical — and they serve a useful in-game purpose.
About 11 minutes into the Cyberpunk 2077 demo, just after the protagonist V emerges from what looks like a one-night stand, she encounters an advertisement in the street. Every single ad is personally catered to the person approaching it, putting them directly into the ad itself:
“A big part of our RPG experience is having a world that’s interactive,” the demo’s narrator says. “Here, generic ad has morphed into something specifically tailored to V, informing her of the nearest vendors she can purchase the product from. In this case, it shows us where to find some Nicola soda.”
The ads feature a cartoonish approximation of V’s character model, so nearby cameras probably record her appearance, identify her directly, and project a facsimile into the ad. This makes for a pretty scary kind of advertising that eliminates privacy but also serves as a useful in-game mechanic: After seeing the ad, V is then directed via an in-game targeting reticle to where she can purchase the soda. This isn’t uncommon for video games at all, but within the context of Cyberpunk 2077, it feels totally organic and fits neatly in within the framework of this universe.
Imagine seeing an ad and before you can even think you might want to buy it, your visual display already shows you exactly where you need to go. Considering this is a high-tech future where V has all sorts of cybernetic enhancements, everything about Cyberpunk 2077’s user interface and game mechanics can mostly be explained by the sci-fi nature of the world.
The future of advertising, it would seem, is one where consumers can’t hide from anyone — but it also makes finding what they want that much easier.
Cyberpunk 2077 has no official release date, but CD Projekt Red is hoping to release the game by the end of 2019.