Fast Company

Impressionable Games

THQ, a large game publisher, has announced it would begin using ads delivered over the Internet by Massive Inc. in its games. THQ is one of the largest publishers to agree to these dynamic ads, and this is a big step toward a brave new world. The growth in Internet advertising is well documented, and now gaming ads could see similar growth. As people spend less time with passive television and more with the interactive media of the Internet and gaming, marketers will need to move as well.

With the next generation of gaming represented by the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, games will approach photo-realism. Advertising in such realistic environments will be more profound then many realize. Players are able to interact and affect the world within the game, and the experience with products (via product placement) and advertising (via in-game billboards and television commercials) is more direct. Maybe your character has to drink a can of Coke to keep up his stamina? Maybe there is a scene where the player has to watch a newscast, with a 15 second Best Buy commercial before it?

Many games already feature forms of marketing: Stadiums in sports games feature billboards, racing games include product placement via the choice of cars, and sand-box style games with worlds to explore(Grand Theft Auto or Tony Hawk) have advertising of every kind. This will only increase and the addition of a dynamic model will make it more attractive to the advertising industry. Let's just hope it is not to the detriment of the gameplay--else advertisers may find a backlash toward their company and products.

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5 Comments

  • C.J.

    This is great! Now, hopefully games will start merging toward the new world order that the software industry is moving toward - freely downloadable and supported by ads. Wouldn't it be nice to go back to the days of paying $50 for a game and not having to subscribe to an online service to play it online (look at Everquest and World of Warcraft that charge over $10 a month on top of the purchase price). This will make games cheaper as people realize that video games are a medium just like TV, and all media has advertising, why should games be differnt?

  • DizzyD

    totally agree with quickreach...even if it was dynamic streaming...I dont play games to escape advertising or to retreat from the real world. I play to have a good time and in the case of first person shooters the more realistic the environment the better it is in my opinion. Remember if you dont like it just shoot the source of your frustration...

  • Quickreach

    This really isn't that big of a deal. First off, there is no ad streaming in anything but PC titles. XBOX and Playstation have closed off dynamic ad placement.

    The only ads you'll see in games today aren't really ads at all. They're hardcoded products within the game itself - i.e. a Jeep vehicle or a pair of Reebok shoes.

    Massive has built its reputation on hype. I'm waiting for the substance.

  • ChinoBling

    Watching forced, cut-scene ads, NO WAY...
    Product placement, it's already here.
    Dynamic, real-time product placement? Cool...
    But what if the customer doesn't have a broadband connection or they don't hook their consoles up to it?

  • matt

    this is heinous. people are paying $50 and up for these games, never mind the cost of the console itself. why should they be abused with having to watch commercials in the midst of gameplay?

    brave new world? possibly in the huxleyan sense.