In-Game Ads Toe A Fine Line

from the this-kill-brought-to-you-by-fruit-loops dept

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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 9:31am

    ...there's a fine line between enhancing realism and being obnoxious.
    Seems to me that actually the more obnoxious the ads are, the more realistic they are.

     

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  2.  
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    Bumbling old fool, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 10:05am

    I misread the title and got happy...

    I thought it said Fruit of the Loom, not fruit loops.

    For a second, I pondered having the fruit of the loom girls show up and dance/cheer for me when I killed a boss in wow...

    Now THAT would be awesome advertising!

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 10:07am

    i used to play CS for a while, do they mean the CS:Source game now?

    also, i remember the matrix game for GC. it had poweraid ads in it, like the movie.

    but, wasn't CS a mod off of the HL engine? but then they became successful and either bought CS rights, or work with valve directly now? and aren't CS users/servers encouraged to make maps and whatnot?

    i guess the line is drawn when private servers make money off of the work of valve and CS developers

     

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  4.  
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    STJ, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 10:19am

    Ads in games are just fine, like in movies, as long as it is natural, such a billboards while driving a car. Not as a label plastered on the BFG your carrying, that's just lame.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 10:44am

    Oh come on ... must we really be bludgeoned with advertising in every venture, every waking moment of the day?

    Hoenstly, if they're going to put ads in games then games should be cheaper ... make your $ off of the advertisers, not by forcing a consumer to pay for advertising. Have two versions of the game: One with ads for $35 and one without for $45.

    Anyone else remember when cable TV had little/no ads because you PAID for it?

     

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  6.  
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    Spork, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 10:46am

    Got to agree with #4...

    I don't see this as being a huge deal. Ads will be around in one way or another whether we want them or not, there's no stopping them. These ads are just another way of getting consumer attention in a more modern way and to a different audience.

    If they're done about like the product placement in movies what does it hurt? I don't care if I see coke or pepsi machines in a game I'm playing.

    Now on the flip side if the ad itself takes away from or interferes with the game experience, then I can see problems, but chances are the company will pay in the long run by losing players.

     

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  7.  
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    Jay T., Dec 13th, 2006 @ 10:50am

    I prefer the psuedo-ads in Grand Theft Auto:San Andreas. (Cluckin'Bell). In a city gaming landscape, ads add realism (even if the ads are spoofs). The real issue though is whether in-game ads generate more customers to the target companies. Just because there are ads for Subway in my game, doesn't inspire me.. It's a combat game... if Subway wants to inspire me to go wreak some havok on their billboards and whatnot...that's their call.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 10:52am

    Product placement is one thing, but having to sit through Coke commercials and endless trailers before watching a movie I paid to see is one of the reasons I don't go to theaters anymore. On another note, I thought legislation was passed such that the posted start time of a movie had to be when the MOVIE actually started and not the preamble of ads and trailers.

    I don't mind that most gaming companies have splash screens that I have to sit or click through before starting to play a game, but throw in a Coke/Pepsi commercial or a Band-Aid commercial before I can play F.E.A.R. online and I'm not likely to come back ... unless it can be hacked ... ; )

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 10:53am

    I like your point #5, while I'm too young to remember cable without advertising that does seem how it should be. If so many of us are paying to watch private television, shouldn't we reap some reward other than "better" programming?

     

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  10.  
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    1337, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 10:54am

    In Game Pop-ups

    Next we'll see in game pop-up ads followed by in game pop-up ad blockers. lol

    but seriously.. I'm all for ad based games (if done right). I remember when Adware like shareware was a good thing. It usually meant you'd get 75%-90% of the functionality of the full version for free (with the addition of ads). Now most adware is spyware type crap...

    If they plan to use ads in their game and charge the same price i'm not buying, but if they reduce the price (or make it free) i'd give it a short. hopefully you will have the option to pay the remaining retail amount for the ad free version

    on a side note.. some pod casts i listen to are now putting ads in their audio, i still listen because of two reasons: 1. the ads are short and relevant to the content and 2. the content is worth annoyance of the ads. If games follow this model it might work

     

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  11.  
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    Beefcake, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 10:56am

    Reality Schmeality

    I play games for the fantasy factor, so the ads are a detriment. If I want reality I'll turn off the damn game and drive my actual car. It isn't a Ferrari, but you can't beat the reality of reality. Great graphics, too.

     

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  12.  
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    Dj RaYz, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 10:57am

    Re: Ads in Games

    I agree with the point that if you put a buttload of adds in a game that make it look un-natural or not relating to game play, then it should be cheaper or free. Do you pay $5 for every newspaper you buy? No, b/c there are ads in just about every page, which pay for some costs. I hate it when companies double dip for profit. Where are peoples morals today?

     

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  13.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Dec 13th, 2006 @ 11:04am

    Subway is ok!

    They can keep Subway ads in if they allow me to shoot that idiot Jared.

     

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  14.  
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    The Original Just Me, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 11:23am

    I find it funny

    That any company thinks thier ad for taco-fried-pig or handlebar dongles is so compelling that the mere act of viewing a picture will convince me to scoot right out and buy one.

    Most of my small purchases are driven by need (hmm, flashlight no worky, buy batteries) or lots of research (gonna buy me a new car). I doubt that 1/10th of 1% of my purchases are impulse driven. Even when I do need something like batteries that decision is usually based on past experience and price.

    Meh, it doesn't matter anyway. I've long since stopped being in the target demographics.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 11:29am

    someone will come away with a jaret caracter mod...

     

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  16.  
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    Cynoclast, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 12:04pm

    RE: I find it funny

    They aren't trying to get you to go out and buy it immediately, they just want their product or brand burned into your brain so you consider buying their product or service when you DO go to buy stuff.

    Trust me. If you have money, you're in one of their target demographics.

     

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  17.  
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    misanthropic humanist, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 12:07pm

    Valve are just another greedy corp now

    Computer games are one of the few things I will only use hacked versions of. The legitimate versions are just too much trouble.

    Valve screwed it all up for me with HL2, the authentication circus that made it impossible for me to play a game I had looked forward to for months and spent a load of money I couldn't afford on, only to have it fail and not get a refund. One way or another I'm going to get my $40 back from those twunts if it's the last thing I ever do.

    Before that I was a dedicated and loyal follower who encouraged all my friends to buy a copy and join in the fun. I don't think the suits at these companies have any idea how much their behaviour alienates their oldest and most important players. Fuck Valve.

    And one of the posters above is correct - CS was a mod, built by ordinary contributers like you and I who crafted it in their own time. For Valve to hijack it as a vehicle for advertising by doing deals behind the backs of the community that built it is wrong, and I don't care who signed what.

    Computer games have left me behind. Not because I've grown out of the fun, but because the industry has become a ruthless gravy train that has nothing but contempt for it's end users, much like the music business.

    We all owe it to these greedy losers to make sure their products fail and they lose money by buying into Free/Open alternatives, even if they aren't as glossy and trendy as the latest titles.

     

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  18.  
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    Shepard, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 12:09pm

    Silly Sheep

    I know a lot of you sheep don't seem to mind the idea of being exploited. But in game ads serve no purpose to the consumer/end-user, unless you're playing some new Marketing/PR adventure game.

    With regard to being exploited, let me point out a few things:

    - Gaming is already being subject to McDonaldsification by consolers and greedy corporations are you going to help the ADVERTISERS get their 2 cents in as well?
    - No change in the price, quite frankly ads=shareware=free.
    - Even it it was free/cheaper what about the additional load on the consumers/end-users machine.
    -- CPU cycles
    -- Memory
    -- HD Space
    -- Network Traffic (once we lose net neutrality this my hurt a bit :P)
    -- and the most compelling reason not to add a feature, especially one that has no benefit to the end user; YET ANOTHER FAILURE point

     

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  19.  
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    Unknowledgeable Geek, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 12:21pm

    Re: I find it funny

    That is still 4,000,000 people in the world that the ad with attract

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 12:26pm

    well, the modders shouldn't have sold CS back to valve. but then again, valve coulda sued under the dmca or something.

    i also think valve has it in the elua that you can't profit from mods to the game or whatever. meaning that yes you can mod, so long as you don't sell or profit directly from the game. what is being done is selling "in game" real-estate. i.e. taking what VALVE has worked hard to do, and turning a profit. so valve, although they are the "big bad ugly face of consumerisim/capitolism/industry" (or whatever) they have a right to profit from their work. i'm sure you'd be upset if someone took what you made, then changed it, and chargedpeople for the "added" feature that you could have done yourself. it's all about the $$$ so why should someone else profit off of your hard workings? hum....put yourself in valve's shoes for a sec.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 1:47pm

    Re:

    Not as a label plastered on the BFG your carrying, that's just lame.

    Yes, it would be lame if it was the wrong KIND of ad. But I don't think it would bother me if my BFG was a Smith & Wesson. In order for in-game advertisements to be realistic and not annoy the shit out of me they'll have to be subtle and fit whatever it is they're plastered to - a Subway BFG would definitely suck.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 1:49pm

    Re: Re: Ads in Games

    Ask GDub; He most certainly knows.

     

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  23.  
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    Raptor85, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 1:56pm

    Re: by Anonymous Coward

    Dont remember the eula perfectly, but if i remember correctly you cant sell a mod unless you license the engine, which is no different than any other commercial game. I wasnt even aware Valve gave them money for it, more than likely they didnt have to and could have just taken it.

    Generally you dont do mods for the money, you do it cause you think its cool. If you do get any money out of it, i'd have to say it's more from drawing people to your community (ads on your website, or selling reserved slots on your server)

    back on topic, it seems we've almost made full circle here. anyone remember the NES and early SNES era? Yo Noid? TMNT? A good number of those games were sponsored and contained ads, and the games were still fun. That's what needs to be done in todays games. Medeval/fantasy type games i think would be hardest though, cant really advertise for pepsi in the dark ages... hmm, or can you... (tasty witches brew that causes "charm" on target maybe?)

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 2:08pm

    Re: Valve are just another greedy corp now

    You may want to try playing the game after you turn off your daemon tools or any other virtual cd rom. Then you won't have to go through the aggravation of dealing w/ automated customer service or idiots who have no buissness being in customer service. You may also want to try a little tool call YASU or YUSA something like that. Sweet little tool that masks your virtual drives...best i have tried yet

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 2:08pm

    Re: Valve are just another greedy corp now

    You may want to try playing the game after you turn off your daemon tools or any other virtual cd rom. Then you won't have to go through the aggravation of dealing w/ automated customer service or idiots who have no buissness being in customer service. You may also want to try a little tool call YASU or YUSA something like that. Sweet little tool that masks your virtual drives...best i have tried yet

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
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    misanthropic humanist, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 2:42pm

    I miss Halflife and my PC but...

    Thanks for the advice AC25. To be honest, that episode with HL was 3 years ago now, it was one of the final nails in the coffin of me using Windows and playing games. Shortly after that I switched to Linux and started to take my computer seriously. I'm looking forwards to when a decent free game comes out on Linux. I know it won't be as shiny and cool as the latest Windows or console game, but in a peverse way that's the attraction. I don't want "mainstream" any longer. I want something that

    1) I am in control of

    2) I feel the creators have been adequately rewarded for (even if that reward is non financial)

    3) Has some longivity and a real community around it, not some passing hype that will get dumped and burried as soon as the latest version comes along.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 3:59pm

    Good. Now, once more with feeling...

    Come on people. Yes, Valve bought CS1.6, but they have no incentive to support it anymore, yet they still do. They could have let HL1 and related articles "die" when HL2 and CS Source came became established, like many other companies do when sequels come about, but they didn't. As far as I'm concerned, the ads only serve to prolong the life and maintainence of the game, even if the players have to sacrifice a little to achieve it.

    To reiterate incase you missed my point, the article's not very clear. The game in question is the original Counter-Strike, which is over 6 YEARS OLD now. There have been MMOs that haven't lasted that long, even though they're supposed to by design. But you don't play a monthly fee for CS, do you...

     

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  28.  
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    misanthropic humanist, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 4:54pm

    Age doesn't matter

    Well argued AC27, you almost make Valve seem charitable. But the longevity of CS is entirely down to it's community of players remaining interested, not by dint of Valve deigning to throw a few scraps of support at it. There are older games still running and their communities are as strong as ever, with or without the blessing of some company.

    I dare say if Valve went into liquidation tommorow there would still be CS servers running in 2 or 3 years time.

    And your expectations are far too low imho, I would never pay a game that required a monthly fee, my baseline is far higher than that. The currency that is important to me in a game is quite different to flashy graphics and being with the in-crowd on the latest title. A bit like how when you're a teenager you listen to plastic disposable pop music and think Britney is the coolest, but when you grow up you develop a taste in music and seek out the *unpopular* fringes of the art. Most the other adult gamers I know are like that, popular appeal is actually the biggest turnoff, because then it's full of teenagers, cheats and parasites trying to throw a quick scam (like advertising junk food in the maps or something unsavoury).

     

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  29.  
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    ju1c3, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 8:29pm

    quake 2

    valve throwing scraps and using advertising to keep it running? i dont think so. they r just still trying to make a buck. think about quake 2. made over 11 years ago, but still has over 2000 servers running worldwide becuase of the mod community. it just goes to show that the company can go away, and the game still stays. quake 2 for life!

     

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  30.  
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    |333173|3|_||3, Dec 13th, 2006 @ 9:21pm

    Subtlety

    If the ads were subtle, like the Smith&Wesson BFG mentioned abouve, or a Xerox photocopier, a Dell computer runiing Vista, or all the cars were fords (furutistic games especially), or coke machines sold coke instead of pepsi, then you could pull it off: I mean that if the objects in the game just happened to be made by a company, then people might well accecpt it, like with product placement in movies, you don't notice it but it still works.

    On the other hand, a pop-up would turn me right off a game ("Damn, he killed be from behind that pop-up which appered accross the doorway")

     

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  31.  
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    Stu, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 9:20am

    I sir... am not a coward!

    I don't like in game ads that distract from the game, and face it, its easy to do so. However if you have some place that lends its self to ads then, ok, just dont' get in the way. Need for seed is one game tha tlends its self to it, but they have gotten close to over doing it.

    The other side of the coin: I don't get any pay from it, I don't get any kind of price break for it. If I'm running a server and you can insert ads into my game, or even more previlant to day, if I type a message and you have ad text scower it and insert ad-links, why do I not get a taste of the pie? I'm serving up the game or the words thats going to bring your and the company revenue, I feel as though for at least hosters and posters that this is profiting off thier work or at least controbutions with zero pay off for them.

     

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