Ads in Games, is it just the Beginning?

Ads in Games, is it just the Beginning?

Let's face it, ads are here to stay, and they're only going to get more pervasive as time goes on. You can't watch a sporting event without being bombarded by product logos and slogans in the background, nor can you can make it through a day at Disneyland without learning which companies are sponsering which rides (I really feel immersed knowing that Star Tours is presented by Energizer...).More recently, gamers have bemoaned the inclusion of ads in videogames, fearing that instead of adding to the realsim, they'll eventually become obvious distractions. So far the fears have been mostly unfounded, but it's early yet.

Now comes the announcement from Microsoft that they're going to offer an advertising supported verion of Works, the productivity suite that no one uses. This one has me scratching my head. While I can understand the mounting pressure to respond to competition from Google's Google Docs, has MS completely forgotten about OpenOffice? This isn't an online productivity suite they're offering, and I don't see being forced to view ads as a successful business model when alternatives exist without such annoyances.

But what really has me (mildly) concerned is the unlikely prospect that this somehow ends up making fiscal sense. Force feeding ads in exchange for free content didn't work for NetZero, but if it works for software, this could be just the beginning. Imagine loading up Windows Vienna presented by Windex, or Internet Explorer presented by Ford. And then watch as Mozilla's market share goes through the roof...

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Darth Ninja

I think Sovereign said it best when he said "If games just become yet another advertising tool, some people will just bend over and take it, but others will start developing things like AdBlock, game edition."

if games get to ad infested people will,
A. Not buy them
B. Come up with a way to take out the ads
C. Play them less, thus they will fall out of favor and then sales will go down

If on one played games with ads then advertisers would find that that it was less profitable then other means, thus: less ads

I would not buy a game if:
* it had ads that did not integrate into the environment (a billboard in a city say, not a snickers poster in a castle...)
* it had a overly large number of ads
* it has ads and costs 'to much'
* there are overly many ads "in-game" confine them to the damn menus and load screens!
* it has ads that flash, change, strobe, change color, or are anything other then a still image.

here's an idea: sell the game with ads for, say $50 and then a ad free copy for, oh $70 - id spend the extra 20 for a ad free copy.

as for ads in everyday programs, i doubt (and hope) it wont / cant catch on, it's a lot easer to create a web browser or a text editor then a game...
if there are to many ads/bugs/annoyances people will find something else, something better...
i'll bet that if, say IE sprouts ads then Firefox will clime to #1, if ads come to Microsoft office Open Office's share will swell, if, god forbid, the next copy of windows has ads then I for one will switch to Linux in outrage! that or stay with a ad free copy of windows, XP anyone? if they create another Vista with ads nobody would buy it!
the only sales would come from OEMs and not even that if people REALLY didnt want it!

wow i did my own little rant there ; )
¤Ψ«[238]Ďaŗŧh_Ñiñja»Ψ¤

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RGCook

Agree that Works is a bad foundation to test this idea. Hell, I wouldn't use it if they paid me to do so.

So why not prove the validity by offering up office, word and excel as a minimum. I'd happily read ads in exchange for that.

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Bin3ry

Well said. Like I said earlier, I dont mind the ads if it helps the company, but atleast make it fit in the game. As far as realism goes, I like realism to a point in a game, but to much makes the game unfun. Take Counter-Strike: Source, It has great realism graphics, but i doubt if i shoot you in the head with an M4-A1 that you will still have enought in you to chase me down and kill me, 96 dmg hs suck by the way.

I must say i would rather pay $50, for a game that has no in-game ads, as appose to $30 for a game that has intrusive game ads in it. Maybe the answer is a combination, like some of the p2p programs out there. If you want to get the ads out pay for it,(assuming you stick to the EULA),if you dont care to put up with the ads, then the free version will work. I must say though, how are you going to advertise certain things in games like Shadow Run. I mean what would actually fit in that game beside computer hardware things and other games made by that company?

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Sovereign

People will only take so much. Ad-supported Gmail? Fine, the ads are completely unobtrusive (for more than one reason...) If games just become yet another advertising tool, some people will just bend over and take it, but others will start developing things like AdBlock, game edition. Of course, the EULA for such a game will probably say it's illegal to block the ads, but something being illegal doesn't generally stop things from happening on the Internet.

There exists somewhere a tipping point to where consumers will say "ENOUGH!" and eventually the companies will either have to find a new way to produce quality products or deal with the consequences.

Think about it this way: economic game theory states that the rational decision for any company is to advertise themselves. If Acme and Ace both make widgets, and neither advertise themselves, and rely exclusively on word-of-mouth and other free methods, then costs stay down to some extent as advertising in and of itself is not always free (ingame ads are, for the company that makes the game, as they are paid for putting the ads in, but ads FOR said game in other mediums, including other games, are not free). If both companies refrain from advertising, then they are assumed to each get approximately equal shares of revenue from their widget sales. But as soon as one company breaks the unwritten covenant against advertising, they take a large share of the market and the other company loses out. Therefore, given this situation you can't expect companies to retract their advertising systems, even though perhaps minimizing them would keep consumers happy and keep costs down. The "winning" formula is to advertise, assuming that your competition will advertise and that your company would thus lose out by NOT advertising/allowing ingame ads.

In this case, just replace "advertising" with "allowing in-game advertising." If a company doesn't allow it while another company does, the company that doesn't allow it loses revenue to companies that do permit it. In other words, this is just an extension of simple economics, as annoying as it may be. I am fully against ingame advertising unless it fits in the context of the game (say a racing game will have ads for real life companies by the track or a baseball game might have realistic ads that you would find in the real stadium) and some games have fake "ads" for "products" because they make sense (say the "ads" in Doom 3 or Half-Life 2 (posters on the wall for Doom, inside vehicles briefly for HL2). Those make sense. This "OMG let's put ads everywhere!" doesn't.

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Cache

You think ads are bad? Wait until they start using cross-gaming promotions within video games (like on television, where some sort of action occurs at the bottom/sides of the screen to let you know about another show while you're watching the current show).

Personally, I'm waiting for them to realize that they can also display more blatant ads during the loading of a videogame, during the changeover to a new game, or even during the score reviews at the end of the game. Advertising is good money, and I really don't have a problem with it. Take a good walk outside and you're surrounded by ads all the time. For all the talk about realism, you'd think most people would appreciate a real-world view.

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bholstege

people don't play games expecting a real world view, they expect to have fun. I didn't pay 50 bucks for a license to run life. And I think that increasing the bottom line at the expense of consumers is unethical.

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Cache

How does it really affect you as a consumer? So long as it isn't some guy in a suit who appears by your side right after your shot to get you to invest in life insurance, it's just so much eye candy. Heck, most of us are trained to ignore your average billboard ads, signs, etc.

Now what would really amp things up a little is the idea of a Coca-Cola machine somewhere that ups your health by 25% if you use it in-game. I think we're really at the tip of the iceberg for the kinds of marketing tie-ins that will come.

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Bin3ry

The only problem i would have ever had with ads is
1)Being out of place.
2)Lower resolution.
3)Distracting or Annoying
Imagine your playing a game, running around in the desert, chasing a bad guy or what ever. Then on the side of a tent in the middle of the desert is an ad and a big picture of smiling Bob from Enzyte!
Now imagine that it is at a lower resolution than everything else, so it looks terrible. That would annoy me. Like the recent ad that was removed from the MPC magazine about penis enlargement. That is very out of place in a PC magazine or a game.

I think if games are going to continue to include ads they should require that they somehow blend in.
P.S Thanks guys for removing the ads in the magazine.

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bholstege

the purpose of ads was primarily to provide revenue for things that would not be profitable otherwise, so that they could be provided at a very low cost. For example, newspapers could not provide you a publication every day for only 50 cents. Same goes for television, which is mostly free, radio, and many websites and magazines.

In games, however, that additional revenue is not needed, because the game is not provided at a low cost. New games can sot as much as 50-60 dollars, which has been enough for companies to make a profit for years. What I have a problem with is that I'm paying the same amount, while the company dramatically increases the bottom line. If companies reduced the price of games, it would be fine. But this is like a newspaper charged you 15 dollars an issue while keeping the ads.

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remc86007

I agree, but instead of making the games cheaper they are simply keeping the price from going up to match the growing need for revenue to make high-end games.
So personally I can live with ads if it's making stuff cheaper or free.

Stuff I like..
trumpet Honda Intel Nvidia Microsoft Pcs Music Audio Equpment and Ohio State University

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bholstege

The problem, is the games are not cheaper or free. BF2142, for example, had a rather intrusive ad system, yet it retailed at 50 like all the others.

And costs are not staying low (there was a slashdot post on this, actually). Games with high development costs like FSX are moving towards 60.

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MantaBase

Nice post...

If MS really wants to pull this off, they better consider making Works a functional/useful package. I've been playing with the current version and frankly, it's barely fit for a middle school student. It doesn't even stand up to Office97 much less OO.o. It doesn't have what a HS student would need these days (at least not the few I know).

Sadly, if they were smart enough to know this might work with an ad driven version of say - Office 2007 - it would probably fly....and very well.

Manta

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vaemor

I'm beginning to get tired of statements like this; you know the people on the Internet complaining about ads; crying already before anything happens.

“omg, Crysis is being published by EA, I hate EA - they put in-game ads! Crysis will suck cause it will have ads! I'm not buying Crysis! You shouldn't either!” etc.

People always have this tendency to complain and overreact and/or jump to conclusions even at the slightest thing we see that would probably never really effect anything broadly:

One4yu2c: “When does poor taste come into play, and if boundaries do get drawn, who's responsible for making them? The alternative is to continue on without boundaries, which could eventually pave the way for games that encourage beheading American journalists and troops, kidnapping and torturing children”..

(yes ok; I'll seriously eat raw intestines if I /Ever/ see a widely shared game about torturing children, etc.) ..exactly my point.

I'm not trying to flame you; on the contrary, I like and appreciate your contributions here.. I just don't like - and would point out – one part of this and the Internet that annoys me..

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blackzarg

About Jumping to Conclusions..I had a dream like that once. It was a "Jump to Conclusions" mat. You see, it would be this mat that you would put on the floor... and would have different CONCLUSIONS written on it that you could JUMP TO.

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Paul_Lilly

Point well taken vaemor, and I'd even agree to some extent. But as far as MPC's News blog is concerned, the purpose is to report what's going on in the industry and offer commentary and opinions about what it means, along with potential consequences, good or bad. There's a marked difference between "jumping to conclusions" and musing over what's happening in the industry.

Of course, there's an alternative. I could start submitting one-line blogs to the effect of, "Microsoft announces they're going to offer an advertising supported version of Works." But I'd much rather share my thoughts on the bigger picture, rather than give readers what they can already get from a press release. If you're tired of that, we have a Modder's blog, Windows blog, Linux blog, etc...

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soggybomb

as companies become greedier and force ads down our throats, now only would mozilla become more popular, so would, hopefully, linux. then, as linux became more prevalent, more stuff would be compatible with it, and i would get my x-fi drivers.

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