EA Says In-Game Ads Are Poor Investments

by Keith Sadler, posted on 20 December 2010 / 2,969 Views

In-game advertising has always sat uneasily with gamers and developers alike. Some point out that the increased revenue generated from such sales allows developers more freedom in the content they're able to put out. It would allow them to take greater risks. Some have said in-game advertising takes the gamer out of the experience, thus negating any better game content. Estimates on the revenue generated from these sales vary wildly. In 2005, spending on in-game advertising was $56 million, and this figure is estimated to grow to $1.0 billion by 2014 according to Massive Incorporated (which was reduced from their 2006 estimate of $1.8 billion by 2010 according to Massive Incorporated, although Yankee Group gives a lower estimate at $732 million.

Speaking to Edge, EA’s general manager of free-to-play titles, Ben Cousins had this to say about their own in-game advertising:

“We actually aren’t getting much from [in - game] ad revenue at all. The in-game advertising business hasn’t grown as fast as people expected it to. If you think about how fast the virtual goods business has grown in the last year or so, it’s been much quicker and become a much more reliable source of revenue. We hedged our bets. We thought we’d do in-game advertising and virtual goods sales, and one of those took off really fast and the other hasn’t really taken off at all."

March of this year saw EA moving their in-game advertising completely in-house. Cousins has recently changed his mind.

“I think it’s more about specific deals where you can tie the content in,” he said. “We did a deal with Dr Pepper for Battlefield Heroes, where if you buy a bottle and scan in the code you get an exclusive outfit. That kind of deep integration will work, I think, but I’m not convinced that we’ll have billboards in games and things like that. Maybe those days are over."

I'd expect a lot more 'freemium' content from EA in the months ahead. "Freemium" content is when the user get content for 'free' like in the previous example with the Dr. Pepper label. But, as mentioned, the user has to buy a Dr. Pepper first.

What do you guys think? Has an in-game ad ever inspired you to buy something? What if you were able to get additional costumes or color swatches for buying a Happy Meal? Would that persuade you?

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usrevenge (on 17 March 2011)

when i see a billboard for mcdonalds or a car company i feel more immersed. as long as they are only billboards or flyers soda machines ect. i don't want to be spamed with ads.

Silver-Tiger (on 21 December 2010)

If they discreetly placed at billboards, it makes the game more realistic. However if they pop up and take the whole screen, this development is to be fighted with all might, meaning our wallets.

PX54 (on 21 December 2010)

I wouldn't say any ad has convinced me to buy anything but there are plenty (in and out of games) that have had me researching the product and it's competators before deciding which (if any) to buy.

greenmedic88 (on 21 December 2010)

I have bought products for in-game items and codes. As for the in-game ads, I can't say they influence my buying habits. At best, they make a scene more realistic if the ad placements are real life accurate; meaning no Intel ads in a Halo game, etc.

ash31 (on 21 December 2010)

i dont mind games with ads in them as long as devs dont bombard me with ads

SecondWar (on 21 December 2010)

When the ads are more discreet, like all the Philips ads that sit in the background in Splinter Cell Conviction, or fit into the environment, like the ones in forza, then I dont mind them that much. If they appear like they do in the top screenshot Id probably throw the game away.

poroporo (on 20 December 2010)

It's hard to notice an ad when you're driving at 200+ mph.

iasta (on 20 December 2010)

It's funny EA says that because they have the games that could incorporate the more easily adds: the sports games where adds around the play field could help the immersion and make the game look more "real".

homer (on 20 December 2010)

I rarely notice, or care about advertising in games. If it gives devs more revenue, and they do not bombard me with ads, I am not opposed to it, although I do not promote it.

AFFLICTION (on 20 December 2010)

Most of the games i play don't have ads in them and even the ones that do i just ignore them