In-Game Ad Market Booming

from the centipede-never-had-this dept

The market for ads embedded in video games is booming, setting the stage for a spat over whether they’re intrusive, or a “creative element”. A previous study — albeit one sponsored by a game publisher — found that in addition to in-game ads being highly persuasive, players say they make games more real. The BusinessWeek article raises a few examples: the first is a new Sims game where users run restaurants and other businesses, but EA eschewed using any real brands or products. The second mentions how an ad agency put some ads for Subway on some servers’ versions of the online game Counter-Strike — without the permission of the game’s publisher. In the first instance, in-game ads and product placement could make it more realistic, even more interesting to some players, while the second seems like an odd intrusion into an online world. The key is context: in the context of the Sims game, product placement’s appropriate; in Counter-Strike, the Subway ads stick out like a sore thumb. Sure, they’ll get noticed, but their blatant appearance can cause a backlash that creates the exactly opposite reaction than advertisers want.

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Comments on “In-Game Ad Market Booming”

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Blake says:

Re: Ads in games

If they start puting ads in games in places they dont belong or throwing them on my tv during load screens I will stop buying games from those companies.

I can see how an ad in the sims is okay because yea that would make it more real. But if im in an army game over in iraq or I dont want to see advertisements for starbucks or mcdonalds.

amasa says:


I’m a former Planetside subscriber, from retail through December 05. Sony introduced ingame ads, that hung like pictures on walls inside various ingame structures. They weren’t super instrusive, I didn’t mind them. Some people did, and went as far as to figure out the DNS names that were used to host the ad images and put looback entries on the hosts file to prevent the ads from coming down. I think ad subsidized gaming is here to stay, but I think subscription gaming that also has ads is a bit cheesy. If I can game for free because there are ads, I think that’s legit but don’t take my money and make me watch ads.

Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

I have no problem with ads in games like CS. With CS, you don’t need to play on the servers that have the ads if you don’t want to. CS is all about having fun with your friends and playing in good levels. if the levels are good, and the ads don’t mess up the game play, then why not. if I don’t like it I will go somewhere else, but if the game play is good enough I’ll stay. The burden of convincing me to play on the ad based server is still up to the server owner.
Putting ads in a subscription based game, is not OK. If you are going to make me play the game only on your server, and also charge me to play it, then I don’t think I should have to put up with ads. Too bad that most game makers won’t see it that way.
Putting in ads that they make you watch at load time, or between levels is just annoying. people won’t want to buy or play your game if you do that.

Really Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No Subject Given

But by that token, subscription games that make you play on thier server and don’t charge you anything are ok right?
For example, Anarchy Online has been doing this for almost a year – they have in game bill-boards. Those taking advantage of the free play option for Anarchy Online have no option to disable those advertisements, while paid subscription players (like I was) have a simple option to *turn them on*.
That’s right – on. Funcom has done some silly things in the past, but one thing they did right was to disable adverts by default to their paying subscribers. That being said, I turned them on one day to see what they were like and they stayed that way – they weren’t super intrusive and the adverts helped set ambience for the futuristic cities.

Tyshaun says:

Re: Re: Whats in it for me...

I guess the bottom line is that if I feel like I’m getting something for the ads (like free game play or reduced fees), I have no real problem with them. I do agree with those that have said things along the line of if they are paying for a service or media they don’t expect to get intrusive ads. I kind of liken it to having a subscription cable station, like Showtime. The day Showtime starts showing commercial ads is the day I cancel my subscription, unless they take a percentage off of the subscription. Why, because I’m paying already for the channel, why should I suffer through the ads?

AF says:

No No and No

I can?t believe my eyes when I read about gamers who think that in game advertising will ?add realism? or ?it?s alright if it?s in context?. I am vehemently against any type of in game advertising. I?ll gladly pay $5 dollars more at retail for an ad free game.

I uninstalled my SWAT 4 patch because the advertising it added was despicable! Even though SWAT 4 has a modern and realistic setting, real ads totally cut into the experience. After up the update I had posters for a new show on the WB everywhere through out the level! They did not fit into look and feel of the game and it was just a giant eye sore. I?d rather play a buggy game than a later version with ads in it.

I much prefer and actually enjoy the fake brands and ads that you see in some games to ad realism. They?re not obtrusive and you don?t notice them until you actually make an effort to look at them.

Real ads of any kind need to stay out of games. There?s a god damn reason the mail 18-34 group doesn?t watch TV anymore! Don?t let the same thing happen to our games.

And returning to my first comment, I just can?t believe the level of complacency with some gamers about ads. ?It?s fine if I get a discount on the game?. Guess what, you?re not! ?It adds realism?. If you want to stare at a giant neon billboard for AXE deodorant (Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory) then I think you have some issues to address about your unusually high level of commitment as a consumer.

Publishers are playing with fire and I hope to god they get burned.


AbortRetryFail says:

This is absolutely terrible. Talk about a corporate moneygrab. It’s not even smaller producers doing this but the big names.

It saddens me to see our community being infected with this in-game advertising. Gaming is supposed to be about escapism and having fun, yet if you keep pushing the real world into the games then this negates the purpose.

For the time being guys, we can hold this back. We can block off the ports this software uses to connect to the adservers. But how long will it be before they make it so we can’t switch them off? We’re too far down the slippery slope to go back.

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