Obama ad appears in Xbox 360 car racing game

In what appears to be a political first, ads for Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama are appearing in an Electronic Arts high-speed racing game.

Declan McCullagh
Declan McCullagh Former Senior Writer
Declan McCullagh is the chief political correspondent for CNET. You can e-mail him or follow him on Twitter as declanm. Declan previously was a reporter for Time and the Washington bureau chief for Wired and wrote the Taking Liberties section and Other People's Money column for CBS News' Web site.

Ads for Democratic politician Barack Obama are appearing in an Electronic Arts high-speed racing game. This appears to be the first time that a presidential candidate has bought in-game advertising.

Electronic Arts confirmed on Tuesday to our sister site GameSpot that the ads have been appearing on virtual Obama billboards since October 6, and will continue to run until election day in November.

The ads will appear in the Xbox 360 version of the game in 10 states, most of them hotly contested: Ohio, Florida, Iowa, Colorado, Indiana, Montana, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, and Wisconsin.

The game in question is called Burnout Paradise, which was released in January for the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. It features an open-world design that gives players the flexibility to explore (well, race through) the virtual landscape of Paradise City.

Update Wednesday, 10:45 a.m. PDT: National Public Radio reports that the ads, which target men between 18 and 34 years of age, are running in a total of 18 video game titles from EA. Those titles also include the popular and timely Madden NFL 09 football game, along with games targeting Nascar, NBA, NHL, and skateboarding fans, the the AP says. The company would not say how much it is charging for the ads.