EA Exec Says In-Game Advertising Doesn't Pay Off

EA Exec Says In-Game Advertising Doesn't Pay Off

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Despite the once-high hopes, Electronic Arts executive Ben Cousens says in-game advertising hasn't paid off the way it was once expected to.

Remember a few years back when everyone thought that billboards and posters for real-life products in online games was the wave of the future and truckloads of money were being thrown at the companies that would make it happen? Google dropped $23 million on AdScape, Microsoft blew $200 million on Massive, publishers were signing deals as fast as they could and even Barack Obama got in on the act, becoming the first presidential candidate to ever buy ad space in a game.

But three years later, it's all become dust in the wind, dude. Cousens, the general manager of EA's free-to-play business, said the money just isn't there, at least not in the form envisioned back in the day. "We actually aren't getting much from ad revenue at all," he said in an interview with Edge. "The in-game advertising business hasn't grown as fast as people expected it to."

What has grown is the microtransaction-powered market for virtual goods, which he said is a much more reliable source of revenue that EA has managed to tap into. "We hedged our bets," he continued. "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."

Cousens clarified that he doesn't think in-game advertising is dead, but that it's not going to work out quite as envisioned in those heady days of 2007. "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," he said. "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."

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They need to realize, when someone is actively engaged in playing an intense match of [insert game here], there really isn't much to get them distracted. So putting an ad in the middle of a firefight isn't the smartest thing to do. They are too worried about not dying rather than worrying about New Coke, or whatever they were trying to advertise.

I remember playing Battlefield 2142 and I saw a billboard advertising an Intel Core 2 Duo...wait, it's 21..42. Not 2007.
It can kinda break immersion if you really get into a game.

If I ever pay for a game and later find out it has advertising I will return it as defective.

rembrandtqeinstein:
If I ever pay for a game and later find out it has advertising I will return it as defective.

Preety much. I am not willing to pay $60 for the privilege of being shoved advertisements down my throat. I already have to deal with that every time I watch television or go outside.

Anyway, this isn't anything suprising. I could have told Cousens that in-game advertising wasn't worth it three years ago. Customer is law and there is nothing beneficial for the customer when it comes to in-game advertising.

shaboinkin:
They need to realize, when someone is actively engaged in playing an intense match of [insert game here], there really isn't much to get them distracted. So putting an ad in the middle of a firefight isn't the smartest thing to do. They are too worried about not dying rather than worrying about New Coke, or whatever they were trying to advertise.

I remember playing Battlefield 2142 and I saw a billboard advertising an Intel Core 2 Duo...wait, it's 21..42. Not 2007.
It can kinda break immersion if you really get into a game.

Exactly. I remember being vaugely aware of those ads, but heres the thing...people who are playing online multiplayer fps probably already have a damn good processor and so the ad is wasted anyway. I don't object to billboards ingame being for rl things, but the targetting of the ads was so crap....and its so subliminal to have no effect.

Right. Which is why when I updated Madden 11 today, the first thing I noticed was the new TV advertisements. It doesn't pay off, yet EA keeps jamming it into their games.

Of course it's not effective. It is not disruptive to the player, it just exists as another easily ignorable asset in the game world.

Now if you replace the loading screens and such with adverts for a product, then you'll get consumer reaction.

Mostly hostility.

Games have in-game advertises? I never noticed...

shaboinkin:
They need to realize, when someone is actively engaged in playing an intense match of [insert game here], there really isn't much to get them distracted. So putting an ad in the middle of a firefight isn't the smartest thing to do. They are too worried about not dying rather than worrying about New Coke, or whatever they were trying to advertise.

I remember playing Battlefield 2142 and I saw a billboard advertising an Intel Core 2 Duo...wait, it's 21..42. Not 2007.
It can kinda break immersion if you really get into a game.

And what this guy said. When you are really into a game you don't notice stuff like that. I never did and i will never do it either.

As others have already said - nothing turns me off to a game faster than in game ads.

I've stopped playing franchises because of it - I'm looking at you NCAA Footbal, and your gawd awful Pontiac ads (yeah, that's several years ago).

No no no it helps the developers and anyone who hates it is a entitled casual that has no respect for the hard work of the developers that do so much and ask for almost nothing

Tom Phoenix:

rembrandtqeinstein:
If I ever pay for a game and later find out it has advertising I will return it as defective.

Preety much. I am not willing to pay $60 for the privilege of being shoved advertisements down my throat. I already have to deal with that every time I watch television or go outside.

Anyway, this isn't anything suprising. I could have told Cousens that in-game advertising wasn't worth it three years ago. Customer is law and there is nothing beneficial for the customer when it comes to in-game advertising.

While you may pay for your software, a growing number of consumers are not. Hence, developers are forced to inject advertising, etc. into software to generate revenue to *pay* for their efforts.

Note to software pirates: you cannot expect to rely on teenage hackers living in their parents' basement to develop the majority of your software for you.

...Yeah. I think I can run EA. I could have told them this back when it started. In game ads simply don't work. For me, they break immersion when I do notice them--which isn't often. I'll be playing a game, then suddenly start thinking about the product. No more immersion.

It worked in Alan Wake because I was using Energizer batteries, but that's it.

In-game ads have always had the opposite effect they were intended to on me. I'd see some out-of-place ad in a game, find it distasteful, and then as a result find the product distasteful as well.

I'm just going to file this under the same opinions i have on internet advertising. Everybody resents it and i can't see it ever 'working'. Everyone hates youtube adverts with a burning passion and it's considered tasteless, even by reviewers (gamespot for example) to include in-game advertising. It's intrusive, heavy-handed marketing that will just have the adverse effect and yet we still see it every single day in every little thing they can cram a 30 second or side banner advert in to. I can't honestly believe who the hell thinks, after being forced to watch a long 30 second clip before a five minute video "Hmm yeah you know what i totally needed that new makeup / gadget / whatever." I think there's such an obsession with marketing and advertisement now. It's not about what will 'pay off'. They just want to drum their message into your brain.

God i hate marketing.

Andy Chalk:
Cousens, the general manager of EA's free-to-play business, said the money just isn't there, at least not in the form envisioned back in the day. "We actually aren't getting much from ad revenue at all," he said in an interview with Edge. "The in-game advertising business hasn't grown as fast as people expected it to."

File under, "Dur-Hey."

I did with success return Bionic Commando because of all the advertisement. I pay FOR the game, I don't expect to be shoven all that Pepsi shit down my throat.

Also, advertising in games for RL products just shatters the entire thing, companies should get creative like the GTA series, excellent advertising for fictional products which really suited that specific world.

Either way, lets hope the trend dies down faster.

Tom Phoenix:

rembrandtqeinstein:
If I ever pay for a game and later find out it has advertising I will return it as defective.

Preety much. I am not willing to pay $60 for the privilege of being shoved advertisements down my throat...

I take it you haven't been to a movie theater lately. Me, the kids, plus popcorn = $50 and I still have to sit through the corporate commercials and trailer commercials before the damn movie starts.

Andy Chalk:
"...I'm not convinced that we'll have billboards in games and things like that. Maybe those days are over."

*Blink*

When were those days ever here? I know I can be a contrary little madam at times, but seeing an in-game ad is more likely to make me think negatively of that product than anything else.

Phishfood:

shaboinkin:
They need to realize, when someone is actively engaged in playing an intense match of [insert game here], there really isn't much to get them distracted. So putting an ad in the middle of a firefight isn't the smartest thing to do. They are too worried about not dying rather than worrying about New Coke, or whatever they were trying to advertise.

I remember playing Battlefield 2142 and I saw a billboard advertising an Intel Core 2 Duo...wait, it's 21..42. Not 2007.
It can kinda break immersion if you really get into a game.

Exactly. I remember being vaugely aware of those ads, but heres the thing...people who are playing online multiplayer fps probably already have a damn good processor and so the ad is wasted anyway. I don't object to billboards ingame being for rl things, but the targetting of the ads was so crap....and its so subliminal to have no effect.

Not to mention Gamers HATE ads, they don't want their gameplay interrupted by big flashing signs, or have to wait 30 seconds for their damn youtube video to load. Upon seeing an ad in game a gamer is more likely to go "Toyata huh? Well fuck them I'm never buying from those arseholes EVER."

runedeadthA:

Not to mention Gamers HATE ads, they don't want their gameplay interrupted by big flashing signs, or have to wait 30 seconds for their damn youtube video to load. Upon seeing an ad in game a gamer is more likely to go "Toyata huh? Well fuck them I'm never buying from those arseholes EVER."

Exactly, those crap Toyata ad's they show on youtube before the video starts piss me off to no end and pretty much promises that I will never have anything to do with their cars thanks to those ad's. If it was those little crappy ad's at the bottom of the you can vanish by clicking on the little "x" I wouldn't have nearly as much of a problem than with those crappy thirty second ad's they use before the video loads up.

I think I saw it said here on the Escapist in your marketing articles said very well:

Marketing is most effective when it is subtle.

A billboard splayed out proudly within a game is anything but subtle. But something like the Dr. Pepper thing - much better. Primarily also, I think, because it approaches the thing from the better perspective.

People who play games usually don't have much political fervor, so why do they care about Barack Obama's ad? However...everyone likes a good drink now and then, so why not Dr. Pepper, since you know that you can get something nifty within the game too? (the things that matters to gamers a bit moreso than politics at the end of the day)

shaboinkin:
They need to realize, when someone is actively engaged in playing an intense match of [insert game here], there really isn't much to get them distracted. So putting an ad in the middle of a firefight isn't the smartest thing to do. They are too worried about not dying rather than worrying about New Coke, or whatever they were trying to advertise.

I remember playing Battlefield 2142 and I saw a billboard advertising an Intel Core 2 Duo...wait, it's 21..42. Not 2007.
It can kinda break immersion if you really get into a game.

You do realize there is a little bit of irony in your post. The fact that you can remember the ads somewhat proves that it worked.

Saucycardog:

shaboinkin:
They need to realize, when someone is actively engaged in playing an intense match of [insert game here], there really isn't much to get them distracted. So putting an ad in the middle of a firefight isn't the smartest thing to do. They are too worried about not dying rather than worrying about New Coke, or whatever they were trying to advertise.

I remember playing Battlefield 2142 and I saw a billboard advertising an Intel Core 2 Duo...wait, it's 21..42. Not 2007.
It can kinda break immersion if you really get into a game.

You do realize there is a little bit of irony in your post. The fact that you can remember the ads somewhat proves that it worked.

I think it was more of the remembering an ad for a cpu in 2007, in 2142 and I...GAHH SHUT UP!

Citrus Insanity:
In-game ads have always had the opposite effect they were intended to on me. I'd see some out-of-place ad in a game, find it distasteful, and then as a result find the product distasteful as well.

A lot of marketers don't seem to realize that, unlike publicity, there is such a thing as bad marketing. Attach a negative connotation to the product you're pushing and you've not only wasted your money, you've harmed the very business you're trying to promote.

Tom Phoenix:

rembrandtqeinstein:
If I ever pay for a game and later find out it has advertising I will return it as defective.

Preety much. I am not willing to pay $60 for the privilege of being shoved advertisements down my throat. I already have to deal with that every time I watch television or go outside.

Anyway, this isn't anything suprising. I could have told Cousens that in-game advertising wasn't worth it three years ago. Customer is law and there is nothing beneficial for the customer when it comes to in-game advertising.

assume you dont play xbox live then, its got ads all over the dashboard.

VondeVon:

*Blink*

When were those days ever here? I know I can be a contrary little madam at times, but seeing an in-game ad is more likely to make me think negatively of that product than anything else.

Yeah...

I remember Need for Speed Underground 2 where every last street Corner was a Burger King or Pepsi sign.

I've never played the game since.

ssh00:

Tom Phoenix:

rembrandtqeinstein:
If I ever pay for a game and later find out it has advertising I will return it as defective.

Preety much. I am not willing to pay $60 for the privilege of being shoved advertisements down my throat. I already have to deal with that every time I watch television or go outside.

Anyway, this isn't anything suprising. I could have told Cousens that in-game advertising wasn't worth it three years ago. Customer is law and there is nothing beneficial for the customer when it comes to in-game advertising.

While you may pay for your software, a growing number of consumers are not. Hence, developers are forced to inject advertising, etc. into software to generate revenue to *pay* for their efforts.

Note to software pirates: you cannot expect to rely on teenage hackers living in their parents' basement to develop the majority of your software for you.

awesome :D

ssh00:

Tom Phoenix:

rembrandtqeinstein:
If I ever pay for a game and later find out it has advertising I will return it as defective.

Preety much. I am not willing to pay $60 for the privilege of being shoved advertisements down my throat. I already have to deal with that every time I watch television or go outside.

Anyway, this isn't anything suprising. I could have told Cousens that in-game advertising wasn't worth it three years ago. Customer is law and there is nothing beneficial for the customer when it comes to in-game advertising.

While you may pay for your software, a growing number of consumers are not. Hence, developers are forced to inject advertising, etc. into software to generate revenue to *pay* for their efforts.

Except punishing your paying customers is not the solution and only serves to drive them away, thus only further dwindling the low profits you are already making. Not to mention that this excuse falls flat when you consider that consoles do not suffer from high piracy rates and that quality titles will sell regardless of piracy.

Is piracy a problem? Certainly. But there are far better solutions than in-game advertising.

dcrane:

Tom Phoenix:

rembrandtqeinstein:
If I ever pay for a game and later find out it has advertising I will return it as defective.

Preety much. I am not willing to pay $60 for the privilege of being shoved advertisements down my throat...

I take it you haven't been to a movie theater lately. Me, the kids, plus popcorn = $50 and I still have to sit through the corporate commercials and trailer commercials before the damn movie starts.

It's not like that is a recent trend. :P But yes, I haven't been to the cinema in a long time and that is certainly one of the reasons (although I always thought of trailers as a good excuse for a bathroom break :P). The other is that there really aren't that many good movies to watch nowadays.

And then the movie industry wonders why they are doing so poorly...

psrdirector:

Tom Phoenix:

rembrandtqeinstein:
If I ever pay for a game and later find out it has advertising I will return it as defective.

Preety much. I am not willing to pay $60 for the privilege of being shoved advertisements down my throat. I already have to deal with that every time I watch television or go outside.

Anyway, this isn't anything suprising. I could have told Cousens that in-game advertising wasn't worth it three years ago. Customer is law and there is nothing beneficial for the customer when it comes to in-game advertising.

assume you dont play xbox live then, its got ads all over the dashboard.

Your assumption is correct, I do not use Xbox Live. Well, to be honest, I don't even have an Xbox 360. But even if I did, I would still not use Xbox Live.

I find it kind of sad and pathetic that Xbox players are forced to pay $60 just to be able to play online, only to still be forced to deal with advertisements and 12-year olds (or, rather, people who act like 12-year olds) with foul mouths.

Anyway, I consider in-game advertising to be one of the deadliest sins in gaming and I will stay away from any developer who merely just contemplates using it, let alone one who actually does so.

Never really liked game ads that mutch but they didn't directly bother me until when they are stupidly out of place (When I was playing splintercell convintion their was recruiting billboards for joining the swedish army in swedish in game taking place in amerika so I was like WTF).

I've permanently stopped buying every product I've ever seen an in-game add for except Coca-Cola. I'm addicted to Barq's root beer, so...No hope there.

shaboinkin:
They need to realize, when someone is actively engaged in playing an intense match of [insert game here], there really isn't much to get them distracted. So putting an ad in the middle of a firefight isn't the smartest thing to do. They are too worried about not dying rather than worrying about New Coke, or whatever they were trying to advertise.

I remember playing Battlefield 2142 and I saw a billboard advertising an Intel Core 2 Duo...wait, it's 21..42. Not 2007.
It can kinda break immersion if you really get into a game.

If anything, the player would begin to associate getting shot at with whatever product is being shoved in their face, which isn't good marketing.

I haven't actually encountered in-game advertising, and hope that I never will.

As long as it's done creatively or not so obnoxiously "in your face", I have no problem with self-promotion in a video game (like other EA products showing up in an EA game, for example).

It's when I see shit like the product placement on the soda machines in Bionic Commando (Pepsi, was it? I completely blocked the memory out just to spite them it seems) that it goes beyond tasteless and starts pissing me off.

any irony in the fact that this page has at least two ads on it?

Can he remove the repulsive wind mobile billboards from Burnout Paradise? Or how about the gillette vans?

 

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