Microsoft ensures product placement will come to a video game near you.

I mentioned awhile back how a new company by the name of Massive Inc. has developed a system of delivering ad content to video games connected to the Internet. The company has attracted a fair amount of interest from developers and several games already make use of their service having added the needed code to their programs. The API allows for the placement of ad content on a variety of surfaces within a game including but not limited to: billboards and posters, vehicles, pizza boxes, soda cans, screensavers, and TV screens. Reaction from gamers has been mixed with some thinking it adds to the realism of a game and others being against having to pay money for a game that then forces ads on them. Love it or hate it the initial response from both publishers and advertisers implies this could be a very lucrative undertaking on Massive’s part and no less than Microsoft has taken notice.

In fact Microsoft just announced their intent to buy the company. This pretty much means that you can expect practically every title coming out of Microsoft to include this advertising system in it. Considering that the percentage of Xbox 360’s that are hooked into broadband connections is estimated to be around 60% this could help offset the fact that the console is sold at a loss, if not make it ultimately a non-issue. It also means Microsoft will likely get a chunk of change from any other companies that decide to make use of Massive’s system.

Personally I’d be happier about this if it meant lower game prices thanks to the increase in revenue from the ads, but somehow I doubt that’s going to happen anytime soon. As long as it stays relatively non-intrusive in the form of textures on objects (soda cans, vending machines, etc.) and not something that interrupts the game for a 10 second commercial every 10 minutes then I’ll probably be just fine with it. With any luck some games where such things would be out of place (say like Nike ads in World of Warcraft) the publishers will avoid the temptation to slap in ads, but already the folks at Anarchy Online—which uses the ad system in their MMORPG of the same name—had a poster for Batman Begins in their game world that included the release date of June 15 of last year which is seriously out of place in a game set in the far future. Still whether you like it or not Microsoft seems intent on making them more common.

5 thoughts on “Microsoft ensures product placement will come to a video game near you.

  1. This is somewhat unrelated, but XBOX Live is providing coverage of E3 May 8-14.  It looks like they’ll be providing trailers and playable demos from the show.  They’re also giving everyone free Gold membership for that week.

    I just wish I wasn’t part of that 40% without a high-speed connection 🙁

  2. Great. We already have to put up with all the ad crap on the net, do we really need it to ruin our games too?

    How long do you bet it will take for an ad blocker for Xbox shows up?

  3. I can see it now:

    “World of Warcraft announces partnership with Coca-Cola”

    Blizzard Entertainment has signed a sponsorship deal with Coca-Cola to provide in-game product placement in its flagship MMORPG, World of Warcraft.

    The partnership will see the Horde city of Thunderbluff renamed ‘Colabluff’ and the Alliance city of Stormwind renamed ‘Colawind’. Ironforge will also be renamed ‘Lagforge’ to match its colloquial name.

    Mages will no longer offer water but instead provide Coke to their group members – underlying their role as vending machines. The highest level mages will be able to produce Diet Coke.

    The magical Noggenfogger Elixir will now be known as Fanta, and the goblins of Gadgetzan will be renamed ‘Sprites’.

  4. Shit.. that’s my initial gut feeling anyway..
    Followed by pure elation.  I wonder how long it is
    until it can be hacked to push cool shit out.
    A little add server spoofage would be nice.

    Im thinking something like “Eyes only” from the show
    Dark Angel a few years back.

    I would think someone is begging to get their ad
    content contorted and skewed. The coming years of
    gaming should prove to be quite entertaining.

    Eat shit Massive Inc.

    Im sure the illustrious email spammers of various
    lawess South Korean or Melanesian ISPs cant wait
    to push penis enlargement propaganda on the good
    people of the world. Health care too pricey? Cut
    down on those expences with some cheap mail order
    pills.

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