While the above headline might look nonsensical to some, it is rich with meaning for the technology and gaming world. Microsoft's "To the Cloud" campaign, promoted of late in TV and online ads, is being featured within the world of GodFinger All-Stars, a mobile game played on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. The deal makes Windows the first brand to find its way into any game made by ngmoco, a leading developer of mobile games.
"To the Cloud" is the current Windows campaign from Microsoft, in reference to cloud computing — as we've reported, the high-tech buzzword of the year.
Bandied about freely in consumer marketing campaigns where it was once the domain of tech geeks, cloud computing essentially allows users to access and share just about everything over the Web and corporate networks.
GodFinger All-Stars allows players to create a planet, visit friends, and share gifts — similar in spirit to the Windows cloud campaign, which urges consumers to create, connect and share.
In the new game featuring the Windows cloud branding, players have a chance to visit the Windows "Cloud," which lives in every user's galaxy, and earn free "Awe," the game's virtual currency. Of course, players can also learn more about how to use Windows 7 and Windows Live to take advantage of cloud computing.
Chris Cunningham, CEO of appssavvy, a company that connects brands to people through social activities and who led the brand integration, said, "There is a place for meaningful brand advertising in mobile games."
Clive Downie, VP of marketing at ngmoco, adds: "we're excited about the ways that brands such as Windows, can play in our efforts."
For a time, social games seemed to resist including brand advertising. They didn't want to dilute their revenue model, which was based entirely on selling virtual goods and virtual cash rewards.
Other gaming companies were concerned they might undermine the gaming experience for fans by inserting ads, which could become a distraction to players and possibly turn them off because of the presence of commercial messages.
But now brands are popping up with increasing regularity in games like the wildly popular online FarmVille, which has accepted ads from Microsoft's Bing, as well as Cascadian Farms' organic blueberries.
One of FarmVille's newest brand integrations is obvious — Farmers Insurance. Marc Zeitlin, VP of e-business for Farmers, told ClickZ, "FarmVille was a natural: Farmers, FarmVille - get it?... We're helping people in FarmVille protect their virtual crops with virtual insurance."
The insurance company's blimp, which was used in a PGA tournament, was incorporated into FarmVille for a defined time period in October. "The airship lends itself to becoming a piece in the game," said Zeitlin.
Clearly, game developers are becoming more accepting of incorporating brands into games, as long as the brands fit within the virtual playing field. Apparently, that's why GodFinger All-Stars players will see the Windows Cloud floating around in their game.