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Online rental service GameFly directly targets gamers
Search giant could be looking at video games as its next frontier

Google, the current force in online advertising, could now be looking to expand its reach into the video game space. According to the Wall Street Journal, Google is in talks to acquire Adscape Media, a company whose technology allows for in-game advertising.

The move by the search giant could be an effort to compete with the software giant. Last year, Microsoft acquired Massive for its technology that allows dynamic delivery of advertisements to gamers in online games.

While Microsoft paid close to $200 million for Massive, Red Herring sources say the Adscape deal may only cost Google a bargain; between $20 million and $30 million USD.

Representatives at Google and Adscape are not commenting on any possible deal, though the search company did not deny its interest in the video game space. “We are always considering new ways to extend Google's advertising program to benefit our users, advertisers and publishers. In-game advertising offers one such possible extension among many others,” said a Google spokesman

Although in-game advertising is still in its infancy, the online capabilities of the new generation of gaming consoles represent a huge opportunity for advertisers. Research firm Yankee Group last year estimated that the in-game advertising market could reach $732 million by 2010.

“Although the in-game advertising market is still relatively untapped, its promising business model will lead to swift market development,” said Yankee Group senior analyst Michael Goodman. “Effectively competing in the interactive gaming market for the video game and advertising communities requires careful attention to the intricacies of the industry.”

Game publishers such as Electronic Arts view in-game advertising as the next big source of revenue, but gamers may see it as the next big annoyance. Those who bought Battlefield 2142 were surprised to learn that the game incorporates technology that tracks certain user information, such as IP address and other information, to aid in the delivery of targeted ads.

IGA, the firm that provides advertising technology to EA’s Battlefield 2142 game and rival to Massive and Adscape, is not surprised to see Google’s interest in the emerging market. “Google and MSN and Yahoo are always looking for different mediums,” said Ed Bartlett, VP publishing for IGA Europe, in a conversation with Next Generation. “There’s been such a marked and rampant decline in effectiveness and eyeballs with traditional media that they’ve had to accelerate, and this is part of that process.”

Bartlett adds, “In-game advertising has suddenly taken off. Our reach this year is going to be in line with a mid-sized T.V. network. We’ve got all these eyeballs that were watching T.V. that are now playing games and they’re in a completely engaging environment. They’re not off making a cup of tea or doing other things, so it’s certainly a very, very interesting space for people who want to be major players in advertising.”

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By copiedright on 1/24/2007 8:58:10 PM , Rating: 2
I have no problem with in game advertising as long as it lowers the cost of gaming and does not alter the gaming experience.

However, I think the bean counters wont care and in game advertising will just be another annoyance.

RE: Hmmmm
By Harkonnen on 1/24/2007 9:09:26 PM , Rating: 2
It doesn't really bother me having advertising in game because I don't pay attention to it.

But they won't be passing the savings onto us. Unfortunate really.

RE: Hmmmm
By masher2 on 1/25/2007 12:24:29 AM , Rating: 2
> "But they won't be passing the savings onto us..."

Sure they will...though the 'savings' may not be in the form of a lower price on the game. Initially at least, I'd imagine it would lead simply to higher development budgets...which translates into a higher quality game for the same price.

Further down the road, if the concept takes off, you might see some ad-heavy games given away for free, with all the studio's profit coming from the advertising itself.

RE: Hmmmm
By otispunkmeyer on 1/25/2007 6:51:43 AM , Rating: 2
thats a good way to at it.

though a cheaper retail price is always nice, i wouldnt mind getting more for the same either. though i think more complex and advanced games will probably push the need for the latest greatest GPUs and CPUs even faster and afterall they wont want the game to be so involving that you miss the adverts completely.

planet side had a decent in the loading screens, i dont mind that at all

one of the splintercells had some good AMD and sony ericsson advertising - computers had A64 screensavers, and some small objects/props were sony mobile phones.

the latest splintercell infact has a particularly good product placement for the chrysler 300c and a Nokia mobile which is used to crack safes.

product placement style advertisments can really add to the realism of the game...depending on setting of course, its no good advertising a mobile phone in oblivion for example. but a game such as splinter cell or GTA, a game set pretty much in the present or near future ad's and product placements will really work...adding to the realism and immersion rather than detracting from it

RE: Hmmmm
By Spivonious on 1/25/2007 9:36:42 AM , Rating: 2
I figure if banner ads didn't work for Netzero, they're not going to work for games. In other words, games will always cost money.

Ads are just adding to the profit. I thought games were a way to escape the real world? And if I'm playing a game such as Half-Life 2, what purpose would ads have in that game? The whole world is controlled by a totalitarian alien race. They have no use for ads for Gamefly.

RE: Hmmmm
By masher2 on 1/25/2007 10:03:33 AM , Rating: 1
> " figure if banner ads didn't work for Netzero, they're not going to work for games..."

Banner ads work in some places, not in others. And there are many ways to add advertising besides a banner.

> "if I'm playing a game such as Half-Life 2, what purpose would ads have in that game?"

Product placement would work well, wouldn't it? Lead characters wearing Nikes, running past burned-out McDonalds, and killing the enemy with Sony-brand exploding batteries...just imagine the possibilities!

RE: Hmmmm
By Spivonious on 1/25/2007 10:14:45 AM , Rating: 2
LOL, okay Masher stop stalking me ;)

I think we already see some product placement in games (no examples come to mind, but I'm sure I've seen a brand pop up somewhere). I think this in-game ad technology is all about banners, like posters on the wall, or billboards in the landscape.

I play games to get away from the over-commercialization of everything. Don't take that away from me.

RE: Hmmmm
By masher2 on 1/25/2007 10:41:53 AM , Rating: 1
> "LOL, okay Masher stop stalking me ;)"

I stalked you by entering the thread before you? :p

> "I think we already see some product placement in games ..."

"Crazy Taxi" was a particularly egregious example. But there has been product placement in games since the this is really nothing new.

RE: Hmmmm
By dmr9748 on 1/25/2007 10:52:25 AM , Rating: 2
Well, the implementation and results of the advertising are new since the technology behind advertisements are advancing.

RE: Hmmmm
By kerpwnt on 1/25/2007 12:06:52 PM , Rating: 2
It could go either way. The developers could use the extra revenue to pump out more junk titles loaded with more advertisements. Everybody knows that people will still buy bad games. Just look at EA!

The best game developers will still focus on making enjoyable games, while the nobodys clutter their games with advertisements. I'll be happy as long as somebody makes good games like half-life.

RE: Hmmmm
By dmr9748 on 1/25/2007 12:58:28 PM , Rating: 2
You mean like how EA is about to pump out a "booster pack" for BF2142 in the next month or two?

I rather have a playable game with less bugs that ruin the game than better graphics. Just as an example, I still play Asheron's Call.

RE: Hmmmm
By Samus on 1/25/2007 12:52:26 AM , Rating: 2
BF2142 has IGA's and they don't really bother me. Just weird seeing a Intel Core Duo billboard on a future battlefield, somehow still standing when the building next to it had a cruise missile cuisine.

Lucky me!!
By Serifan on 1/24/2007 9:05:09 PM , Rating: 2
In game adds are not a problem for me as it is illegal in Australia. That is why my copy of 2142 does not have in-game adds.

RE: Lucky me!!
By Visk on 1/24/2007 9:14:56 PM , Rating: 2
I live in Rochester...I don't get ads in my game fact, practically everyone I know that plays BF2142 don't get ads

RE: Lucky me!!
By scrapsma54 on 1/24/2007 9:34:37 PM , Rating: 1
I think it has to do with the BF server being set up. I don't waste my time with that game. It is one of ea's blunders. Ftl.
I don't mind Advertising such as a Scion Xb driving by. But what I mind is those resource eatings ads like minority report. That would drive me Nucking Futs. Yes the scion Xb is
taking a resource (cool car anyway) but it is subtle, and in no way affects game play.

RE: Lucky me!!
By cheetah2k on 1/25/2007 1:48:44 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, ah it would be good to be back in Australia, where theres no smoking in pubs, no illicit advertising, no ingame advertising...

I dont pay attention to the bill boards atm either in 2142, and i am more concerned about the information EA collects from your activities.... This should not be allowed to happen, and must contravene the privacy act in some way!

If EA, or anyone else wants to go the whole hog with ingame advertising, then the game should be free, or close to free, just like the days when you could get free internet connection time if you agreed to view a certain amount of advertising content in one sitting.

Actually, how about pay per view? EA could pay us for looking at in game advertising!

The bottom line, is that if its not positively focused on the gamer, and the sole purpose is for the creator/producer/distributer/etc to draw revenue at the expense of the gamer, then this would have a negative impact on the sales of that particular game.

By Sulphademus on 1/25/2007 8:52:24 AM , Rating: 2
This will make playing an old favorite even more dated.

Anyone slap in a VHS of some old Simpsons or, like my dad used to do, tape the Three Stooges while we were at church? Yeah, you know the show is old but the crappy ads are just terrible! (Especially 15 years later!)

Imagine a Core 2 poster today like a spankin P90 of yesteryear.

RE: Dated
By Spivonious on 1/25/2007 9:41:45 AM , Rating: 2
I imagine that the game will download an ad update package every time you play. Yet another way to waste resources.

RE: Dated
By dmr9748 on 1/25/2007 9:48:43 AM , Rating: 2
I will accept this method as long as I don't have an open connection that results in me sending any information to them.

Blow the ads up!
By angryhippy on 1/25/2007 2:30:16 PM , Rating: 2
I don't mind in game ads if they don't get too distracting. It would be nice if they make all the ads destructible in an entertaining fashion though. Might actually read them that way. :-) There's a lot of ads on tv and the internet I'd love to blow up!
They should try to keep them somewhat game related though, seeing Car ads in World of Warcraft would look stupid.

RE: Blow the ads up!
By masher2 on 1/25/2007 2:33:43 PM , Rating: 2
> "It would be nice if they make all the ads destructible in an entertaining fashion though..."

Now there's the best idea of the thread.

RE: Blow the ads up!
By dmr9748 on 1/25/2007 4:46:22 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know if it was photoshop or not, didn't really investigate it but someone had a screen shot of a tampon ad in BF2142.

I don't think I need to make any comments on that finding.

By UzairH on 1/25/2007 4:16:22 AM , Rating: 2
I sort of agree with slickr. I feel angry when I have to pay so much for my system hardware and OS and the game itself only to discover advertising in the game. The only justification for ads in a game is if it were free to the buyer.

If game budgets are going up, then I humbly suggest to introduce better development engineering best practices. Failing that I personally won't mind $70 for the games I really like, such as GRAW or Hitman or whatever (and I'd pay $1000 for rFactor, the best race-sim ever!). The thing in this case though is to ensure you develop a GOOD game that people will spend their hard-earned money. And if after BUYING a game, people find it pushes ads down their throats, I don't think they are going to be happy.

By masher2 on 1/25/2007 10:10:56 AM , Rating: 1
> "If game budgets are going up, then I humbly suggest to introduce better development engineering best practices..."

Its easy to be a backseat driver. But, though some developers may be poor coders or managers, the reason budgets are going up is simple. Better graphics. Ultra-high resolution textures and high-polycount models take time to draw and optimize.

There used to be a time when a couple code-monkeys could churn out a decent game. Now it takes a team of a couple dozen artists as well, plus a few to compose the sound, build levels and/or story content...then a huge group to test and QA it.

If you want a cheap game, go pick up an 8-bit side-scroller. Those are cheap to develop.

By otispunkmeyer on 1/25/2007 6:57:22 AM , Rating: 2
TV and radio ad's suck

but, thank the lord i live in the UK and we gots the BBC no ads on the radio or tv, its fantastic.

ads used to be an oppertunity to get up, go make a cuppa and get some biscuits, but with PVR/DVR and sky plus you just pause the tv.

infact ill pause the tv just before the ad's and go do something else, then come back and skip straight to where the program is so i dont even have to FF through them

2 Versions
By MadAd on 1/25/2007 6:55:54 AM , Rating: 2
There should be 2 versions of an ad-included game, one at the normal price without ads and one at a vastly reduced price with ads in.

At least that way wed have a choice.

I doubt if EA could care less tho and all their ad-included games will be full price- thats just the sort of company they are.

RE: 2 Versions
By otispunkmeyer on 1/25/2007 7:44:33 AM , Rating: 2
not only that, the money wont of been put into making the games any better or hiring programmers that can actually program or anything

with in game ad's id like to see either

a) a cheaper retail price

b) a better game, quality/content/story/immersion/action wise

what EA will do and probably already has done with BF2142 is take

c) pump out the same crap and get paid more for it.

No problem with in game ads if....
By dmr9748 on 1/25/2007 9:16:22 AM , Rating: 3
I have no problem with in game ads but I do have a problem with the way they could be implemented. I refuse to purchase Battlefield 2142 because of this reason alone.

It is one thing to have an advertisement in a game. It is another thing to have an advertisement in a game that is geared towards my region (all the way down to a local area within a certain part of a state or country) as well as geared toward my age range when the developers of the game and the developers of the in-game ad program are unable to give me a straight answer as to how most of this information is known or gathered with the exception of my IP address but that seems to be the only thing that EA and IGA agree to when asked such a question.

I also have a problem when the companies involved with such in-game ad programs do not give any hint as to having security protocols in place if something goes wrong like someone intercepts such "Anonymous Information" (the exact wording used in EA and IGA's joint disclaimer that came with 2142 to describe what is being collected through the "in-game ad program" and is the legally binding term to which the customers have agreed to let EA and IGA collect.) and keep in mind, with EA and IGA, this information is tied to a unique number that is stored in either an IGA and/or EA location.

Also, I have a problem when companies involved make a disclaimer that does nothing more than cover their own "assets" and leaves the consumer high and dry.

Last, but not least, I absolutely loathe the fact that there is usually no prior warning on the piece of software you are about to purchase which makes it another almost impossible task to get your money back and then I have to go to the Federal Trade Commission to file a complaint in order to get my money back since I do not want my information being shared with anyone for any purpose especially if I am not going to receive any benefit for sharing my private information.

Like I said, go ahead and put the ads in but do not even think of asking me for my information, especially "anonymous information" directly from my computer.

The Battlefield 2142/EA/IGA situation is nothing more than a prime example of how in-game advertising could be used against the consumer, allowing them to take unnecessary risks at their expense just to squeeze more money out of the consumer on multiple markets. People, I am sure, will make an argument about how there is no difference between cookies and what IGA/EA has done but you have to ask yourself how often does a website scan your entire computer gathering "anonymous information" off your hard drive and how do you prevent a program from doing so? Just like any other spyware program.

No ads?
By comradeiggy on 1/24/2007 10:43:50 PM , Rating: 2
I only see ads for Core 2 Duo in 2142, and they're not even that conspicuous.

Thanks to Piracy...
By Captain Orgazmo on 1/24/2007 11:53:23 PM , Rating: 2
I guess game publishers have to find a new way to get revenue. Game piracy must make them lose a lot of money, but making in-game ads will make piracy seem much more morally acceptable. I admit I have quite a few pirated games, but if I like a game enough, or want to play multiplayer, I will buy it. If anything I buy more games now that piracy is more easy because of the internet. Putting ads in the one part of a game that is almost impossible to access illegally punishes only legitimate users. I can guarantee that games which include ads will be punished in the same way as games that use StarForce.

A welcome change.
By nurbsenvi on 1/25/2007 5:36:39 AM , Rating: 2
I have no problem with product-placement style ads in games
BUT!! extra revenue generated by this model should not only benefit the game developer but also the gamers.

Discounted games!!!

By Josh7289 on 1/25/2007 6:32:38 PM , Rating: 2
I'd like to know before I make any more purchases~

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007
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