Print 27 comment(s) - last by d0gb0y.. on May 17 at 11:11 AM

Google files for patent on video game advertising, but says it doesn't plan to use it

Google's activities in 2007 have been focused largely around the advertising industry. Most recently, the search giant acquired online advertising grand daddy DoubleClick for $3.1 billion. Before that, Google purchased Adscape to expand into video game advertising, a move that put a stressful look on many gamers who are already sick of seeing advertisements in titles from such companies as Electronic Arts.

This week, Google made good on its acquisition of Adscape and filed for a patent covering a method for in-game advertising. According to Google, the goal of the patent is to lock down a method for monitoring and analyzing a player's in-game behavior. Everything from the type of music that a player might listen to, actions that are performed and even what a player communicates to other players will be monitored.

Right off the bat, monitoring in-game activities may prove to be a bit too much for privacy advocates. It appears that Google's systems may target large massive-multiplayer online (MMO) games such as Sims Online or Second Life. Because many of these game act much like a comprehensive chat program, privacy may become an issue.

According to the patent:

Information about a person's interests and gaming behavior may be determined by monitoring their online gaming activities (and perhaps making inferences from such activities). Such information may be used to improve ad targeting. For example, such information may used to target ads to be rendered in a video game being played by the person.

Google indicated to the press that despite its patent filing, it does not have any specific plans to use the patents. "Google registers different patents irrespective of whether we actually intend to use them," said a Google representative. 

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Free games then?
By svenkesd on 5/15/2007 3:25:49 PM , Rating: 3
If there are ads in the games, the cost of the software should be reduced because of the ad revenue. In the least it should get rid of subscription costs to the MMO games.

RE: Free games then?
By Vanilla Thunder on 5/15/2007 3:46:59 PM , Rating: 2
In the least it should get rid of subscription costs to the MMO games.

Should...yes. Will it ever happen....highly unlikely. This is just another source of possible revenue, and I'm sure it will be exploited to the fullest.


RE: Free games then?
By danskmacabre on 5/16/2007 4:42:38 AM , Rating: 2
If there is advertising in game, it should be completely free.

There's no way I'm BUYING a game, only to get advertising in it as well, unless the said advertising fits into the game (and not in my face), such as a in modern cityscape games or modern RPGs or SCIFIs etc.

If I saw an ad for CocaCola in a fantasy game, I would be annoyed.

RE: Free games then?
By d0gb0y on 5/17/2007 11:11:29 AM , Rating: 2
No kidding! I mean, who would charge for viewing a television station and then ALSO have commercials!

...oh wait, isn't that what cable is?

RE: Free games then?
By nekobawt on 5/16/2007 11:40:17 AM , Rating: 2
Excuse me, how does increased ad revenue translate into decreased or eliminated subscription charges? From a business standpoint, more revenue just means more profit for the gaming company, depending on the expenses generated by the new source of revenue.

Targeted Advertising.
By Mitch101 on 5/15/2007 3:40:00 PM , Rating: 3
Can Targeted Advertising like this be considered an invasion of privacy? Has anyone looked into what information Google collects on individuals?

I also believe this should be optional for my in game experience especially since I am the one paying for the game and am not agreeing to pay for advertising.

RE: Targeted Advertising.
By HrilL on 5/15/2007 3:54:16 PM , Rating: 2
New games will most likely add something that says you agree by playing the game into their EULA and current games will just change theirs so it says that. They always say the have the right to change them... So yeah you paid but if you play you agree to their terms.

RE: Targeted Advertising.
By Mitch101 on 5/15/2007 4:08:07 PM , Rating: 2
I figured as much.

I can only suggest not buying a paticular game and flooding the company with e-mail expressing concern over doing this. Or have 2 versions one a little cheaper that has advertising involved and one that costs a little more because the advertising has been removed.

I hate to sound like a pain but I want a label on the box signifying the game has built in advertising. If a paticular company stands to profit from my information or taste then I want to know before I buy.

Im betting there is a law about this that can be used to block this.

RE: Targeted Advertising.
By cochy on 5/15/2007 6:05:07 PM , Rating: 2
Those EULA's have historically been tough to enforce in a court of law. In any event Privacy laws will trump whatever agreements are in an EULA. If there are privacy doubts they will probably have to clearly state what information they are collecting on the retail packaging so it can be viewed before a purchase is made.

RE: Targeted Advertising.
By noxipoo on 5/15/2007 4:25:27 PM , Rating: 2
just download adblock for games by the time this stuff becomes like banner ads.

It really makes you think...
By Dactyl on 5/15/2007 3:39:51 PM , Rating: 3
What products will they market to team killers and other assorted griefers?

RE: It really makes you think...
By darkfoon on 5/15/2007 4:18:42 PM , Rating: 2
hacks, the KillerNIC, anything else that gives a player "an egde" without actually being good.

RE: It really makes you think...
By Dactyl on 5/15/2007 5:02:38 PM , Rating: 2
I have to stick up here for the KillerNIC. I was as skeptical as anyone. And it's certainly expensive.

But all of the trustworthy sites that reviewed it reported lower lag with World of Warcraft (some games consistently benefited, I think FEAR was one, others did not).

Just because something sounds like a stupid ripoff gimmick designed to effect partition between fool and money doesn't automatically mean it is.

At the end of the day, everything comes down to benchmarks. You either got 'em or you don't. And as much as you might hate to admit it, if you Google around for reviews by legit sites, you'll see that KillerNIC does speed up some games.

By Scrogneugneu on 5/15/2007 8:42:11 PM , Rating: 2
If you need the KillerNIC to speed up your online gameplay, you can spend half (hell, a quarter of) that amount elsewhere to get a decent connection and get the same results.

And remember : having the KillerNIC on board means no more "not my fault, there was some lag" excuse when you get owned. Considering the market for the KillerNIC is the same market that's using that kind of excuses, I believe that amounts to 2 very good reasons to stay as far as possible from that product.

And you people say Microsoft is scary
By FITCamaro on 5/15/2007 4:00:48 PM , Rating: 2
They're not the ones actively scanning the web constantly saving any and all data they come across. This steps it up to a whole new level. I don't know if I'd play a game that has a system like this built into it if it didn't have an option to turn it off. And even then I'd want information about what port it uses and block that port if possible.

RE: And you people say Microsoft is scary
By Mitch101 on 5/15/2007 4:13:49 PM , Rating: 3
It will probably be something horrible like STEAM. If you cant connect then you cant play the game you outright paid for. So if they cant target you then you cant play the game.

By PrinceGaz on 5/17/2007 5:32:52 AM , Rating: 2
For games that have an unfixed bug where they want to connect to STEAM even when playing offline, the best policy is to use an unofficial patch to fix the bug so they no longer connect to STEAM. If the developers or publishers won't fix the problem themselves, others will.

It's rather like the bug where many games still check for the original CD/DVD even after doing a full install. Thankfully a lot of people are always willing to help out the developers and publishers by fixing the bug for them (I've even fixed a few mainly older games which were overlooked originally). I'm sure they're very grateful of people like us :)

EA Was First?
By Googer on 5/15/2007 11:37:43 PM , Rating: 2
Didn't EA beat Google to the Punch with Battlefield 2142 in game advertisements?

RE: EA Was First?
By MatchC22 on 5/16/2007 12:45:58 AM , Rating: 3
EA was beat by SOE(Sony Online Entertainment) selling out and putting video advertisements into everquest and planetside. People found a way to cancle the ads, and to my knowledge they were banned.

No thank you google...
By bighairycamel on 5/15/2007 3:27:50 PM , Rating: 2
While I'm sure this isn't a case of "big brother" but more of a marketing and research tool, I would still like to speak on behalf of "privacy advocates" such as myself and say, "No thank you google, please kindly shove it and say hello to Mr. Firewall."

RE: No thank you google...
By darkfoon on 5/15/2007 4:16:56 PM , Rating: 2
They'll probably sneak the ad packets in with the game packets.
Heck, they'll probably go to/come from the same server just so you can't use your firewall to block them.

That's patentable?
By borowki on 5/15/2007 3:55:05 PM , Rating: 2
Perhaps making inferences? How can you patent something that you're not even sure you'll do?

RE: That's patentable?
By FITCamaro on 5/15/2007 3:59:01 PM , Rating: 2
Plenty of companies apply for patents on products they may not even make. It means if they choose to they can and they don't and someone else does, they get royalties for it.

By creathir on 5/15/2007 5:08:23 PM , Rating: 2
Was the patent just an application, or was it granted to Google?

If it has not been already, I would highyl doubtful of this thing getting granted to Google. This is patenting a common practice.

Can I patent the act of drinking water with a glass held by 4 fingers and a thumb wrapped around?

I doubt they will ever see anything from this.

Though this is the USPO... crazier things have been know to happen...

- Creathir

RE: Question
By emboss on 5/15/2007 7:15:24 PM , Rating: 2
Was the patent just an application, or was it granted to Google?

According to the article :P it's just an application, number 20070072676 (in the US). It was filed on September 29th 2005 and published March 29th this year, so really has nothing to do with the DoubleClick acqusition.

If it has not been already, I would highyl doubtful of this thing getting granted to Google. This is patenting a common practice.

And? The USPTO doesn't seem to be able to tell obvious from nonobvious any more. The distinction that the ads are delivered in a computer game is probably enough to get it approved.

By tfk11 on 5/15/2007 5:45:40 PM , Rating: 2
I swear this will be the last patent related article I bother with. If the patents exposed some interesting or innovative idea that would be great but without fail it's nothing more than some slimy patent lawyer capitalizing on a common sense idea that has been around for years.

Can it really be enforced?
By kmmatney on 5/15/2007 8:48:33 PM , Rating: 2
AFAIK - If you are granted a patent, but then make no effort to use it, then the patent may become null...

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