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PlayStation (Games) Entertainment Games

Ads Retroactively Added To Wipeout HD, Soon Others 299

Posted by Soulskill
from the brought-to-you-by-frungy,-the-sport-of-kings dept.
An anonymous reader writes "American users of Wipeout HD might have noticed that there's an advertisement showing up all of a sudden during loading, both during online and offline play. This, according to a poster on the well-known gaming forum NeoGAF, is being done covertly. The writer suspects that the display software was installed during update 2.01, and the ad-content is now being snuck in. Gamasutra has a story on the company responsible for the software to deliver these ads, Double Fusion, which said it plans to launch in-game advertising in 'another handful' of PS3 games by the end of the year. So, what's next? Can we look forward to fighting the Kool-Aid Man and zombified Mars bars in Uncharted, or is there anything that can be done to hinder companies from adding advertisements retroactively, without the customer's prior knowledge?"
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Ads Retroactively Added To Wipeout HD, Soon Others

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  • ESRB (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lord Byron II (671689) on Monday August 03, 2009 @10:06PM (#28935641)

    Contact the ratings board and complain that the content of the game has changed.

    • by gmezero (4448)

      I don't think advertising has any impact on ratings unless the nature of the advertisement is mature content and the game is rated for everyone. I haven't seen the ad yet so we'll have to see.

      • by Toonol (1057698)
        I don't know about the ESRB, but for movie ratings, even simply reshuffling scenes or cutting scenes OUT will invalidate the rating. This ticked me off, because the 'unrated' Lust, Caution DVD release is actually a censored version of the NR-17 theatrical release.

        It doesn't matter that the content added is objectionable or not, but that it is now has different content than what was initially rated. And what if (GASP) they advertised smoking, drinks, or guns!
  • Coming in the future ? It's already been done, and it's going to keep being done. This is nothing new and short of not buying games with ads or product placement, good luck getting rid of it.
    • by Stormwatch (703920) <rodrigogirao&hotmail,com> on Monday August 03, 2009 @10:16PM (#28935713) Homepage

      Some ads and product placement make sense in the context of a game. In sports stadiums or racing tracks, they may even ad realism. You just have to do it right.

      But a video during a loading screen -- and worse, making it ten seconds longer? That's NOT acceptable.

      • Billboards for "Toca Cola" always annoyed me more than anything. I don't care if the gameworld is plastered with real world ads... as long as they fit in. If it's BF2142 style blasted-landscapes that ad had better look the part, if it's some pristine billboard for something that just annoys me.

        • by Sporkinum (655143)

          I have never seen any ads in BF2142, as I blocked the range in my router before I bought the game. Assuming they come from a different server, it shouldn't be to difficult to do.

        • Something that REALLY annoyed me was in Anarchy Online. They had tons of spots where ads went, but only 3 friggin ads to put on all of them. that makes it look totally unrealistic, and it sucked seeing "Sprite Zero" and "Motley Crue" on EVERY DAMN BILLBOARD IN THE GAME.
    • by quadrox (1174915)

      Yeah, it seems that it gets more and more difficult for me to buy videogames, because they are all full of shit I don't want (DRM, ads...).

      I wish people would start acting like grown ups and outright refuse to buy that sort of crap like me. But apparently most people don't care enough.

  • Boycott (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kell Bengal (711123)
    Don't like the way they're treating you as a consumer? Don't buy their products - simple as that. Use the only real power you have as a passive recipient of their products: the power to stop being one. No one is forcing you to buy Super Testosterone Massacre III if you don't want to. You just have to want being treated fairly more than the latest shiny bauble. There are bigger things in life.
    • Re:Boycott (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Nyall (646782) on Monday August 03, 2009 @10:23PM (#28935755) Homepage

      Read the summary?
      How do you boycott something when the advertisements show up several months after you've bought it?

      • Re:Boycott (Score:5, Informative)

        by Kell Bengal (711123) on Monday August 03, 2009 @10:24PM (#28935761)
        But not buying their subsequent products, presumably? I refused to buy a single EMI product after I got burned by their disc copy protection - it wouldn't play on my PC, and they have not had a cent from me since.
        • Re:Boycott (Score:5, Informative)

          by neokushan (932374) on Monday August 03, 2009 @10:44PM (#28935923)

          Never underestimate the power of complaining. Not buying their product doesn't tell them much. In all likelihood, they'll employ some asshat sales analyst who will come to the conclusion that sales are dropping because the products aren't marketed in the right way, or that it is because of the recession or some other stupid excuse, rather than work out that the product is actually perfectly fine and that the company itself is to blame for its shortcomings due to pissing off consumers previously.

          Even if they do work it out, it'll take them 10 years to do it and by then the problem will be everywhere, so ingrained in that rather than fix it, they'll just re-brand themselves and target a newer, younger audience that's more tolerant of their bullshit.

          If just 2% of the people reading this article sent off a quick email to SCEE Liverpool explaining their distaste at the new advertising, there's a good chance that Sony will at least have a meeting with some executives to decide if the revenue it generates is worth the lost customers and, with a bit of luck, they'll accidentally pass a motion to remove it.

          But no matter what, always remember to stay positive, cynicism never got anyone anywhere!

          • Re:Boycott (Score:5, Funny)

            by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary @ y a hoo.com> on Monday August 03, 2009 @11:22PM (#28936209) Journal

            But no matter what, always remember to stay positive, cynicism never got anyone anywhere!

            That's a pretty cynical view of cynicism.

          • by AHuxley (892839)
            Think back to apartheid and human rights campaigns :)
            Bright banners, flags, direct reactions from their customers, just like they try in your games.
            First they will try and ignore you.
            Protest, be on film all the time.
            Watch as their rent a goons try and clear a space.
            They laugh at you.
            Go limp, make them work, get it all on tape.
            If they go for the cameras, charge them with destruction of property, keep on filming.
            Make sure you get the logos/brand.
            As their security is tightened at every event they will
        • by Nyall (646782)

          I was presuming a boycott would involve the current product at hand. Its a tad hard to boycott Sony Entertainment if you own a PS3.

        • Re:Boycott (Score:5, Interesting)

          by StreetStealth (980200) on Monday August 03, 2009 @10:51PM (#28935989) Journal

          I think you might just have a case here for the ultimate retroactive boycott: the credit card issuer chargeback.

          They sold you a game. Then they added a double-dip, "secondary monetization" to what you already paid for. I'd call up MasterCard and see if they've got your back on this.

          Honestly, the studio or publisher that did this needs to get hit hard. Ads are for freeloaders, not for paying customers.

          • by causality (777677) on Monday August 03, 2009 @11:02PM (#28936069)

            I think you might just have a case here for the ultimate retroactive boycott: the credit card issuer chargeback.

            They sold you a game. Then they added a double-dip, "secondary monetization" to what you already paid for. I'd call up MasterCard and see if they've got your back on this.

            Honestly, the studio or publisher that did this needs to get hit hard. Ads are for freeloaders, not for paying customers.

            From what I understand, chargebacks are a pain in the ass for retailers. They're also one of the few scenarios where the deck is stacked in the favor of you the customer. That's because the merchant really wants to be able to take $MAJOR_CARD but you as the customer can choose among several major credit cards. A small percentage of affected people doing this really would get some attention, methinks.

            • by gmezero (4448)

              Yeah, but I believe you have a limited time to request a chargeback don't you?

              • by causality (777677)

                Yeah, but I believe you have a limited time to request a chargeback don't you?

                Two questions:

                Does the delayed bait-and-switch nature of this incident mitigate any time limits for a chargeback? I'd imagine this is a question for a lawyer.

                Do a multitude of good-faith chargebacks need to be successful in order to cause the expenditure of a lot of time, effort, and expense that would lead to a lot of pressure applied in the direction of avoiding a reoccurrence?

              • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @12:33AM (#28936629)

                Yeah, but I believe you have a limited time to request a chargeback don't you?

                Read your agreement with your card issuer...

                Depending on how long ago the transaction was, your bank/issuer may want additional information supporting your request.

                In my case, I paid for a part on back-order and was told it might take up to 4 weeks to get the part in. After 4 weeks of nothing, I checked up and they said there had been some delays in the shipment and it wouldn't be much longer until I had it. A few weeks later they went bankrupt and closed (it later turned out they had been taking new orders to pay for older orders and other dodgy business practices. the company had a fairly good reputation leading up to my order).

                I ended up successfully placing a chargeback on my card about 10 weeks after the payment, and after answering the bank's questions and providing them with my supporting documentation had the charge reversed about 3 months after the initial payment.

          • by glitch23 (557124)

            Honestly, the studio or publisher that did this needs to get hit hard. Ads are for freeloaders, not for paying customers.

            I assume your logic here only applies to games? The reason I ask is because that logic doesn't apply to television where everyone has to pay (for cable at least, not broadcast) and they still get commercials with the reason from the cable companies of course being that without the commercials we would have to pay even more. Of course, pay even more on top of base amount for premium channels and you finally can get away from commercials from what I last heard. I don't pay for the premium channels so maybe th

          • Re:Boycott (Score:5, Interesting)

            by idlemachine (732136) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @01:19AM (#28936843)

            I think you might just have a case here for the ultimate retroactive boycott: the credit card issuer chargeback.

            I've just spoken to American Express Australia and have been told that I have no grounds to dispute this. Apparently, digitally distributed content is considered a service and not a product, so the same protections don't apply.

            Moreover, I was told that unless I had - in writing - something that stated that no advertising would be introduced, I can't raise a complaint. Incredulous, I asked the support person if that mean that unless I had written evidence they wouldn't include hard core pornography in my game, I'd have no grounds for complaining about them introducing it. She replied that with services, this was indeed the case.

            Next call: Sony!

      • by trawg (308495)

        This is the exact same shit the music and movie industries are trying to pull. It's not really new in software; just check the average EULA from any major vendor - they're trying to make it so you're not buying the game, you're just buying a license to use it temporarily.

        I guess at some point it'll come to a head when someone finally cracks the shits and takes someone to court about it. The sooner the better, I reckon.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          What do you mean "trying to make it"? EULA's have been that way for well over a decade now.

          Sadly I doubt 99% of people will bother raising a stink over this and Sony will rake in the money. As I said earlier, the money they make from whoring the game will be more than they'll lose from upset customers.

          Just another reason to add to the reasons I refuse to buy Sony anything.

      • A time-honored tradition: boycott the advertisers, and write letters to both the advertisers and the game company telling them you're doing so.

    • Super Testosterone Massacre III

      Is that a game or a product that they're advertising in wipeout HD?!? EITHER WAY I NEED IT!!!

  • by Anonymous Cowar (1608865) on Monday August 03, 2009 @10:18PM (#28935731)
    I would be interested if there would be a way to block these ads by looking at traffic and blocking the source at the router. I haven't seen anyone attempt that with the xbox360, but everyone assumed that was par for the course. It would be really interesting to analyze this, and the youtube video should really spark outrage at the ads. I mean the ads are actually degrading performance, they're removing value from the game, and they're very very intrusive. Not everyone has hours and hours and hours to play, and if i can only play for an hour and an add saps 10 seconds every few minutes from my play time, I'd be royally miffed.

    Alas, not everyone feels the outrage at having advertising shoved down their throats. I know that newspaper and tv REQUIRE ads to continue to be made, but you can get 77 issues of the WSJ for 70 bucks. That's a little more than a ps3 or xbox game, but the game isn't something completely new every day.

    Bottom line, if you use ads, you should either seriously discount your product (newspaper) or provide it for free (broadcast TV), but charging users full price for a game or a DL game and then reaping the benefits of the ads that reduce play time from a session and degrade performance (longer load time = performance degredation) is not right.

    Real bottom line: If you want more money from your game, make a better game, its on the console so you can't bitch about piracy, so do better or lose my business. If you previously got my business and then wish to make money off of providing ads to me in a game that there were previously no ads, I will be asking for a refund and encouraging all of my friends to do the same. If you didn't tell me that there would be ads or allow me to decline the ads, expect a general backlash. (I hope)
  • Lost sale (Score:2, Funny)

    by Endymion (12816)
    Well, there goes one more sale.

    I was about to buy that - the demo looks so good on my new HD monitor. But then they pull this crap...
  • ... and for a downloadable PSN game, Wipeout HD is surpurb. 1080p at 60fps on a widescreen tv. Closest thing to a rollercoaster - race. It really feels like a more expensive title.. So..... Would you rather see ads, or pay more upfront?. The game moves so fast, ads a fine by me if the cost stays down! .. I wouldn't like 'em in a RTS or FPS methinks.
    • by Nikkos (544004) on Monday August 03, 2009 @10:29PM (#28935807) Homepage
      Bullshit. I bought the game for $20 without ads. What the hell gives them the right to change the game content of something I've already bought and paid for (a year ago!) Next they'll be changing the music or lyrics of song I bought.
      • If the game were free, sure, ads would be completely permissible. But your standard $9.99 game on the PSN should be supported by the purchase price, and as you point out, Wipeout HD sells for double the usual amount, making it a premium PSN title. There is absolutely no excuse to "re-monetize" something like this, especially in such an intrusive way as increasing the load time for levels by an appreciable amount of time.

        I think this may be one of those few cases where a credit card issuer chargeback is in o

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by T Murphy (1054674)
          I don't anticipate it would work but if there are few advertisers so far maybe complain to those companies instead? Pitting companies against each other is often a good way to get someone to back down in a beneficial way. The game company can't monetize on the advertisements if word spreads that it just gets you negative PR. If anyone has heard of such a strategy working it'd be interesting to hear but I'm not too hopeful. I don't have a PS3 but I'll be affected if this idea spreads.
      • by Culture20 (968837)

        Next they'll be changing the music or lyrics of song I bought.

        Licensed. BTW, rent's past-due Mr. Nikkos! If you don't lease a new white album by this time tomorrow, I'll start the repossession papers!

  • by fremean (1189177) on Monday August 03, 2009 @10:29PM (#28935801)

    Here in the internet backwater country we call Australia we get a limited amount of bandwidth usage quota.

    Every time the PS3/game downloads advertisements it uses my limited quota...

    If I run out of quota I either have to buy more, or suffer 64kbit shaping...

    And I consider myself lucky, some ISP's charge 18 cents per meg when you go over your quota without the ability to buy more.

    I don't mind ads in web pages, or even sensible advertising in online gaming because they constantly require money to upkeep - but a game I've PAID FOR download and am playing OFFLINE doesn't cost the provider a damn cent!

  • Contact SONY and ask for your money back. And if that fails, well, guess you could try to go SUE happy and start a class action lawsuit? After all, you bought the game without ads and no clue they were going to do this.
    • you could try to go SUE happy and start a class action lawsuit? After all, you bought the game without ads and no clue they were going to do this.

      I would bet that buried somewhere in the murky depths of Sony's EULA, there's a clause that lets them screw you this particular way - somewhere between the one where you promise your newborn as a sacrifice, and the one where you pledge to donate all your organs to the Sony executive board in case of death.

  • Redirect the DNS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by binaryspiral (784263) on Monday August 03, 2009 @10:38PM (#28935873)

    I neither own this game or the console its on - but I'm assuming the game downloads its ad content from a single source.

    Block it on your DNS or redirect it to photos (or videos) you'd like to see during the loading of a level.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fremean (1189177)

      It would be sweet if anyone who was getting the ads could upload a tcpdump log somewhere :)

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Kenja (541830)
      Clearly you didn't look into the situation. The adds are showing up even when off line. They are not being loaded over the net but are built into the patch.
  • This is a rather interesting turn of events.

    wipEout was one of the first major games to feature in-game advertising of real-world products. The ads were very well targeted at the game's demographic, specifically Red Bull ads claiming that it improves reaction time.

    These ads didn't adversely impact on the gameplay, in fact I'd say they enhanced it, as they added an element of realism to the game. Products that were aimed at the people playing the game, advertised on trackside billboards, just like they would

  • Only a few ways ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Monday August 03, 2009 @10:43PM (#28935909)

    or is there anything that can be done to hinder companies from adding advertisements retroactively, without the customer's prior knowledge?

    1. Pass another law.

    2. Let the market decide.

    3. Boil the bastards in oil.

  • by Sarusa (104047) on Monday August 03, 2009 @10:49PM (#28935973)

    According to ShackNews, this also increases the between race load times from 12 seconds to 20 seconds.

    Now that's 'meeting advertiser demand,' thanks Sony.

    http://www.shacknews.com/onearticle.x/59821

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by effigiate (1057610)
      The load time seems dependent upon the length of the ad. The progress bar matches up to around 75% and then the ad infused run slows down only to complete just as the ad finishes.
      • Stupid Sony. Beyond the other problems with this, why couldn't they put the ad in front so it would play while the actual level was loading?
  • Creativity (Score:4, Insightful)

    by corychristison (951993) on Monday August 03, 2009 @10:59PM (#28936047)

    So, what's next? Can we look forward to fighting the Kool-Aid Man and zombified Mars bars in Uncharted

    If they were to start advertising like that, I think it would be welcome in a sense. I don't like the idea of a fullscreen ad taking up my screen when the game is loading (although it's not as though I have anything better to look at while loading).

    If companies got really creative and were to add in special characters that pop in from time to time it could be more entertaining and feel less like they were cramming advertising down my retinas.

    Picture a giant Sour-Patch man skateboarding as a competitor in a Tony Hawk Game. Or a Coca-Cola bottle skiing down the hill in Winter Sports 2.

    Entertainment and advertising all combined into one may be fun and enjoyable. And may upset less people here at Slashdot.

    • Re:Creativity (Score:4, Insightful)

      by oneirophrenos (1500619) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @04:20AM (#28937615)

      Picture a giant Sour-Patch man skateboarding as a competitor in a Tony Hawk Game. Or a Coca-Cola bottle skiing down the hill in Winter Sports 2.

      To me, that would nonetheless totally ruin the game experience. If I feel I'm being expoited by the ad department, I find it hard to concentrate on having fun.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday August 03, 2009 @11:08PM (#28936107) Homepage

    To be simple, greed knows no limits except those limits imposed by morality and by law. And in the case of modern business, there is no such thing as "morality" and so law is the only limit recognized by business. To be clear, unless laws are present to prevent it, 12 year olds will make your clothes and shoes in factories as can be demonstrated even today. Without laws, there would be billboards covering ever scene and location imaginable. I have no doubt that business would have no problem playing ads in your dreams if it were technically possible, and of course, legal.

    There is nothing more important to modern business than money. Nothing. Not quality. Not human life. Not nature or the environment. All of that has been lost. It would be nice if that sort of morality could return, but I just can't imagine how. The story of how it was all lost would be an interesting story to hear. I just know we had some morality at some point and it was lost... I feel the loss.

  • hosts.txt (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nimey (114278) on Monday August 03, 2009 @11:15PM (#28936161) Homepage Journal

    Any players notice traffic to ad servers? Post the hostnames and people can just map them to 127.0.0.1.

    • This isn't PC gaming. Host.txt files don't apply to consoles and SOHO routers.

      • by gmezero (4448)

        Actually that's not entirely accurate. Many SOHO routers allow for QoS or IP blocking for handling things like blocking your kids from MySpace. I know every Linksys router I recall ever owning has the ability to do this because I've had to block my kids access to one site or another over the years when we were having problems with grades, etc...

    • by AbRASiON (589899) *

      Yeah but it's not like we can edit the hosts file on the PS3 now is it?
      I know I know this is slashdot, I should have some kind of linux based router but I don't, I have a standard one built in to my Billion ADSL modem, it's pretty powerful too :/ it does what I need.

      This move by Sony is pretty stupid to be honest, I've paid for this game, I don't like or support ad driven games which aren't free, not happy.

  • With money for the goal, how else did you expect to be treated? You will endure it just as the millions who endure television commercials, spam, and the rest of the world of business we've come to live in immersion with.

    Imagine your world without money. The utopia you might imagine surely can't have anything to do with such a destructive force.

  • Hop aboard the Wii bandwagon. They may have friend codes, but they don't throw ads on your dashboards and in your games. Wii online is a very clean service. You will never be swamped with ads about "Double Pits to Chesty" on the Wii menu.

  • Yeah, it sucks. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by chaboud (231590) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @12:30AM (#28936611) Homepage Journal

    It's jarring, breaks the style of the game (old-school dollar bills for State Farm?), and sucks when you've bought both the game and the Fury update (Mirror's Edge costs less). This is the natural outcome of having a closed system that allows people to reach in and screw with things you've already "bought."

    Of course, I also have an iPhone and iPod touch...

  • I can already see (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sleeponthemic (1253494) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @12:37AM (#28936653) Homepage
    That the slashdottian righteous indignation is in full swing. My question to those of you perturbed by this is: Are you offended by the inclusion of ads or the non-disclosure?

    There's a difference. Non-disclosure is foolish. Providing free patches, partially funded by advertising revenue to you is not.
  • by Kaenneth (82978)

    I never bought a Playstation 3, I kinda wanted too... but being from Sony, I knew they'd screw it up somehow...

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