back to article Extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of in-game ads analysts

Many video game industry analysts and corporate star-gazers have extravagant hopes for in-game advertising, but a peek into the horse's mouth would indicate otherwise. According to Electronic Arts chief John Riccitiello, in-game ads currently account for less than one per cent of EA's revenue - and won't become a key source of …


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  1. Dazzer

    For the love of Peter

    I wish these idiots who seem desparate to shove adverts into every part of our lives would just fuck off quite frankly. The influence advertising has on people must surely be over exaggerated by marketing types who believe their own spin. I can't remember the last time I was influenced by an ad, although I am coming over with an overwhelming urge to buy a Sony Vaio and maybe get some Crucial memory to upgrade it with...

  2. mark carlisle

    my three yr old..

    ... does a great impression of 'EA SPORT - it's in the game'..

    ah, get them young and keep them a la mcdonalds

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  4. Iamfanboy

    Dazzer, Shhh!

    If you TELL them they don't get back the money they put into web advertisements and in-game advertisements, then they'll stop funding sites like the Register and other smallish websites who otherwise would be forced to shell out of pocket for ALL of their server costs, instead of (well) most of it...

    It's apparent to everyone but Web 2.0 nuts and Madison Avenue types (who don't want to realize their advertising relevance is past) that webvertisements DON'T WORK, and more often than not just annoy people. But as long as they're willing to dump money into a hole to support MY browsing habits, I'm willing to let them do it.

  5. nematodirus

    Everyone should read this book..........

    "Extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds"

    First published in the mid 19th century, this continues to be the best dissection of the ongoing craziness that is humanity. All potential Web 2.0 investors should read the South Sea bubble chapter.

    Peace out......

  6. Moo

    They're real, they're here

    No matter how much I hate in game - in movie - in TV anything, I know quite sure that most of the game titles from this year and later on will be infested (as has been with DRM, surprise!surprise!...)

    Some disturbed users will and have already began to download/create/apply different kinds of medicine for the epidemic. Piracy seems to be the only option to keep sane.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Maybe less is more

    I find myself agreeing with Dazzer but maybe not for the same reasons. It is insane to suggest you do not pay any attention to adverts. Of course you do. That is one of the ways you find new out about new products that you are interested in. It is almost certainly the way you find new suppliers for those products.

    However, I do agree that you do not need advertising on every conceivable surface, whether it be real or virtual. Ultimately the amount you can spend on anything is limited by your income and budget and even if every purchasing decision you made was influenced by advertising, economics would still mean that advertising could only be a tiny proportion of the overall economy.

    So where to draw the line? Well, advertisers need to make people aware of their products and yes that does require a variety of channels in which to do that. But there is no need to go beyond simple awareness - that could even be counterproductive. I am sure many more potential customers of the iPhone are aware of its limitations than would be the case without the marketing hyperbole, for instance.

    So, say advertising is restricted to TV, radio, billboards, newspapers and magazines and maybe a few other media. It would still be the case that it would be impossible to avoid but potential customers would not be annoyed by rampant commercialism where ever they go. I find it particularly annoying when advertising is on top of services I have already paid for - that is charging me twice. So if I buy a game, I do not expect to be indirectly charged on top of the purchase price through constant exposure to advertising.

  8. Jim


    I suggest you watch the first episode of "Century Of The Self". Makes you will realise that advertising for brand awareness was ditched years ago in favour of generating demand for products that cannot sell themselves without reprogramming the population to believe that they need this crap to be alive.

    If the propagandists are prepared to go to that length then why would they ever constrain themselves to a subset of potential media outlets?

    I'm with Bairdy. Block the ads or take it back for a refund.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oblig Futurama Quote

    Leela: Didn't you have ads in the 21st century?"

    Fry: Well sure, but not in our games. Only on TV and radio, and in magazines, and movies, and at ball games... and on buses and milk cartons and t-shirts, and bananas and written on the sky. But not in games, no siree.

  10. adnim

    Reflecting the real world

    I do not mind seeing a Dell PC in a game--FEAR for instance. I don't mind seeing drinks cans with a coke or Pepsi logo on them. I don't mind seeing the the occasional static advertising billboard on a high street in the games I play. Product placement in games can serve to make those games more a reflection of the real world, and thus more realistic. However they should be static, non-intrusive and appear as part of the game world. No pay per click advertising, No opening a browser to a sponsors site should your crosshair pass over or click on a placed product. No dynamic advertising subverting bandwidth and interfering with game play.

    The real world is full of real products one can identify and/or purchase, I have no problem with a game world reflecting this reality. Of course this approach would not work with games that recreate medieval, or pre age of advertising game scenarios, so those genres should be left ad free.

    Other than product placement in games where it appears natural, I agree wholly with A Baird

    I really do dislike intrusive advertising. I use adblock and no script whilst browsing. I have forgotten what internet advertising is like or whether it actually still exists. I rarely ever see an advertisement, and certainly never more than once.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    "If you start placing ads in my games, guess what? I'll stop the games retrieving the ads from wherever they get them from etc"

    Surely the game itself is an advertisement - for the company, the hardware maker, the sequels, the tips books, the premium subscription etc. Games aren't made for the love of art by monks, they are brand penetrators. It is silly to go on a crusade about in-game advertising, the entire industry is a giant advert for itself. I am reminded of the fuss over Sigue Sigue Sputnik selling advertising space in between album tracks; pop music is a big advert, it's all just an advert.

    I choose Paris Hilton as my avatar, because she is a walking advert for herself (and perhaps a negative advert for Hilton hotels - I've gone off them since Paris Hilton came about).

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Often I fined "ingame advertising" adds to a game world much like well done product placing in films and series.

    I prefer it far more to traditional model advertising.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I just don't get it.

    I don't see the point of pissing off your customer for what amounts to a few percent of extra income.

    I canceled my pre-order of "hellgate london" as soon as I heard about the spyware. In fact I'm not buying EA games if at all, until well after they have come out so I have time to find out what nasties are hidden in there.

  14. lglethal Silver badge

    In the immortal words of Bill Hicks

    "If anyone in the audience is in marketing - Kill Yourself! There is no justification for what you do. Suck a tail pipe. Borrow a gun from an NRA buddy. Remove yourself from the planet, you soulless, blood sucking scumbag. Kill yourself!

    But you know what anyone in the room who is in marketing is thinking? "wow bill's going for "the anti-marketing dollar" that's a huge market! Look at our research."

    Please don't turn everything into a dollar sign...

    "Ooh the plea for sanity dollar - huge market! Huge market!"

  15. Brett

    I rember when..

    Charlies angels: Full throttle had a game that was sponsored by a mobile phone company. I remember playing the demo (as the game was too shit to buy) and thinking as the character took a photo of a fast moving truck with a mobile phone, from a distance, at night then zooming in to the licence plate "No fucking way. What a load of crap." 3 odd years later and my new phone couldn't even do that.

    2ndly in Tabula Rasa there are Dell computers in there. I've heard more about dells problems than anything due to them. The problem with in game advertisement, especially with tech, is that you have such a large and diverse user base that some people with hate the product enough to very publicly rubbish it.

    But in the end I have the same opinion about product placement in movies. If it doesn't detract from the experience its fine. If it does the company who paid for the add just pisses me off. I have a blacklist of companies that have annoyed my through advertising. Some have been on the list since I was 8 now 14 years later the list is longer and I have never broken the blacklist.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In game ads can be really effective

    For example, I've played an old cyberpunk mmofpsrpg where in some parts of the city (especially around the plaza zones and the underground) you could constantly hear ads for the various factions of the game. You could also see their video ads on the walls, along with political graffity and other bulletins and on their office buildings and shops.

    Besides adding a lot to the immersion, because walking along a crowded plaza with ads and armed riot police and private security patrolling the streets feelt just like in real life. (i'm from east europe) The whole scene looked like in real life two corners from my flat in the nearest shopping mall (called plaza by the locals), except in real life you can't shot everyone in sight if you wanted to.

    Changing fake ads to real ones would decrease the immersion, but if they are part of the game world that would feel normal for everyone. And these ads stick, more than the ones you see on tv. Mainly because you are exposed more to them and mainly because they can be seen inside the content that you see. It's like putting ads into movies by showing them inside the film as part of it's world.

    This approach works more than you think and I think it's dangerous. Swap the ads to some political propaganda and you get a game that does the brainwashing perfectly. Also make it free and everyone will be playing it.

  17. David

    Another lister...

    Another one who uses a list.. An advert annoys me enough? No more buying from that company. But most of what we buy these days is truly worthless crap anyway. I often regret the hours that I spent in front of a TV or games machine (or reading El Reg :) ) that could instead have been spent with a friend who is no longer around...

    Sure, things can be a bit harder to find, but it does seem to improve the quality of what I end up with..

    Maybe more of us should do it, become more organised, and start letting these companies know which ads piss us off the most.. Then they would stop running them.

    OTOH, that would give them more of an idea of what we do like, and they might start focusing on that.... Still, would improve the TV watching experience overall I guess..

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  19. jonathan keith

    Dynamic advertising in games

    Nothing a properly edited hosts file or firewall can't solve. For the moment.

    My problem with the whole thing is the tracking and analysis of these ads in-game that goes on. What was I looking at? For how long? How did I behave? Using up processing cycles that I'd rather go on AI calculations or whatever.

    Not to mention that the shitty low-res ads that Massive or whoever try to send through jar horribly against the gloriously-rendered world that a dev team have slogged their guts out to make beautiful.

    "Immersive advertising that enhances your gaming experience"? I'm not buying. It's a losing battle, but I'm bloody well going to fight it anyway.

  20. Shakje


    Well done for ignoring advertising, yet you still buy into the biggest scam there is by paying monthly for a game you've already paid for.

  21. Andre Carneiro

    Just like ads in DVDs... I'll take them...

    ... as long as they give out said games or DVDs for free.

    What I will NOT do is pay for the privilege of having unwanted merchandise marketed during my "me time".

    I will NOT buy DVDs or games with ads in them and will do my best to not buy products advertised in this way.

    But that's just me.

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