Olympus to Run Online Campaign for Eye-Trek Glasses

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Consumer electronics marketer Olympus America Inc. for the first time will target gamers on the Internet for its recently launched Eye-Trek, a personal display for Sony Playstation 2. Eye-Trek is the size of a pair of sunglasses but gives the wearer a big-screen impact.


Targeting high-income males ages 21 to 43, Olympus will promote Eye-Trek on gaming software site Interplay.com, part of Interplay Entertainment Corp., as well as cross-promote Eye-Trek in game box packages.


The deal comes just in time for Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance, one of Interplay's top-selling games for personal computers that will now be available for Sony Playstation 2.


"We will build awareness through our 2.4 million unique gamers that frequent Interplay.com and Interplay's individual game Web sites and enhance the online campaign with Eye-Trek game box inserts," said Scott R. Moore, sales director for new media at Interplay, Irvine, CA.


The plan calls for online advertorials -- advertisements written like editorials, highlighting products -- and sponsorship of the games online area of Interplay.com, where once the user finishes playing the game, he is taken to the Eye-Trek page at Olympus-eye-trek.com.


Eye-Trek will also be sold in Interplay.com's online store.


Cross-promotion is another feature of the six-figure deal, but details were not disclosed. Eye-Trek will be promoted through discount coupon inserts in Interplay game boxes. For its part, Olympus will bundle Interplay game software in the Eye-Trek product box.


The campaign will run Oct. 1 to Dec. 31.


Interplay.com is a developer, publisher and distributor of entertainment computer software for hi-tech gaming enthusiasts. Titles from its stable include Baldur's Gate, Earthworm Jim, Freespace 2 and Descent I, II and III.


As part of its simulation and interactive software business, Interplay also holds licenses to properties like Star Trek and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. In November 2002, it will produce The Matrix games under license.


By tapping Interplay's audience, Olympus, Melville, NY, hopes to build the Eye-Trek brand steadily while also generating sales through e-commerce.


Selling for $399, Eye-Trek displays software games, video and television movies as if the user were watching a 52-inch screen from a distance of two meters, or about six feet.


To further enhance the cinema effect, Eye-Trek offers stereo sound through integrated headphones.


The Olympus deal is a major win for Interplay. The release of only four new titles in the second quarter compared with 10 in the year-ago period, and seven new titles year-to-date compared with 21 last year has cost the company heavily.


In fact, net revenue for the quarter that ended June 30 was down 41 percent to $14.8 million, and the net loss was $12.4 million compared with $1.9 million in the year-ago period.


Exacerbating Interplay's woes are a delay in next-generation gaming titles and the release of lower-priced new PC titles and back-catalog versions. Faced with dwindling resources, Interplay said it will now focus only on the high-end games market.


Striking a pact with Olympus is part of a new plan that includes licensing transactions and financing to support Interplay's operations as a games publishing and production firm.


To this end, Moore said the Interplay audience was a fit with Olympus' target for Eye-Trek.


"Interplay gamers are hard-core gamers with above-average income levels because Interplay produces the majority of PC titles, which cost more and require high-performance systems," Moore said.


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