While the in-game ad market is attracting a lot of interest, companies are still trying to figure out the best way to handle it. Some players say that ads in games can make them more realistic, but there's a fine line between enhancing realism and being obnoxious. Early this year, a company inserted some ads for Subway restaurants into the online game Counter-strike, without the game publisher's permission. The publisher, Valve, turned it into a legal matter, but the two companies quickly settled. Apparently, they've become quite good friends, as a Valve exec says that in early 2007, it will begin running ads in Counter-strike, with IGA serving them up. The original Subway ads didn't really seem to fit well into the game, but many server operators chose to run them to generate some revenues. However, the new Valve plan sees it controlling all the ad sales and revenues, which could rub some server operators the wrong way. The point is also being raised that the version of Counter-strike that will get the ads is over three years old, so deciding now to start running ads could raise the hackles of many players. Valve isn't the only online gaming company that's trying to adjust as gamers pick holes in its business model, and it's also got previous history of acting aggressively to boost its revenues. But acting too aggressively and alienating gamers will cut its own legs out from underneath it -- and adding ads into a three-year-old game may be a step too far.
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