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Privacy Games

Personalized In-Game Advertising In Upcoming Titles 244

Posted by Soulskill
from the brought-to-you-by-frungy-the-sport-of-kings dept.
Scythal writes "In-game advertising provider Massive Inc., acquired by Microsoft in 2006, has signed up or renewed contracts with several publishers, notably EA, Blizzard Entertainment, THQ, and Activision. Eagerly anticipated games like Need for Speed: Shift will feature the technology that continuously collects 'anonymous' information about users, sends them to the Massive database for analysis, and downloads advertisements to be shown in the game. All that happens insidiously, without the users' explicit consent and out of their control, which raises further concerns about privacy, security and quite frankly, customer abuse. Would you feel concerned about software that collects personal information and sends it so that you get more personalized ads in a game you paid for?" (More, below.)
"The technology has already been implemented, and was present in older titles. For example, Far Cry 2, released in October 2008 by Ubisoft Montreal, had it. You could discover that if you cared to read the manual up to the last pages: 'This game incorporates technology of Massive Incorporated ("Massive") that, when activated, enable the presentation of in-game advertisements and other in-game objects which are uploaded temporarily to your personal computer or game console and changed during online game play. As part of this process, when Massive technology is activated, Massive may have access to your Internet Protocol address. Your Internet Protocol address, and other basic anonymous information, available to Massive are temporarily used by Massive for the general purposes of transmitting and measuring in-game advertising.' However, it seems the technology was not used at the time, for some reason. This time, be assured it will be. How are we supposed to react to something like this? Shouldn't it be called adware? And, gratified by the success of this technology, what would be the next logical step of companies like Massive? Wouldn't they seek new publishers and use it in other software?"
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Personalized In-Game Advertising In Upcoming Titles

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  • what information? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gbjbaanb (229885) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @12:16PM (#29252591)

    The question is - what information does it collect, and where does it collect it from? I mean, if it scans my hard drive for files, my in-game experience will look ore like Duke Nukem's dancing girl posters, or (god forbid) work!

    If it scans my bookmarks, cookies, etc, then I'll be viewing slashdot in-game.

    Either way, its not good for the security of my PC, if a game can collect this information, the scammers and botnets can do the same, all they have to do is persuade me to install something - a game for example.

  • Yay! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by osu-neko (2604) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @12:20PM (#29252637)

    If it means more money for the people who produce the games I like, so they can hire more coders, more artists, more level designers, etc., then great!

    I don't object to the idea in principle. I think it's a great idea, actually. Only concerns I have circle around the degree of anonymity and security. But if those are issues that are handled well, then this is a good thing for me as a gamer.

  • Discount? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by silver69 (1481169) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @12:23PM (#29252671)
    Easy solution, offer two versions of the game. One with out the ads and one with the ads but at a discount, say 50% off. Then let the consumer decide.
  • by MrMista_B (891430) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @12:27PM (#29252701)

    I'm okay with this!

    If they give me the game for free.

    If they won't give me the ad-crippled game for free, then there's hundreds of really good games that /don't/ have ads, that I still haven't played yet.

  • Re:How to fix this (Score:5, Interesting)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @12:30PM (#29252735)

    So stick by your guns, and just say no. Else nothing will ever change.

    Because that's been so successful in the past! So the 1% of the population that's actually computer literate enough to (a) know about this and (b) care won't buy their game. They won't notice. So how about Plan B:

    Patch the game or setup firewall rules to block such communications, like via a proxy or some-such.

    Or Plan C:

    Reverse engineer the protocol, then poison-pill the marketing data.

  • by Fallen Kell (165468) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @12:40PM (#29252835)
    As the title says, vote with your wallet. Don't buy the game and send a letter, not an email, to the companies involved and let them know why you are not purchasing their game(s).
  • by RockClimbingFool (692426) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @12:42PM (#29252851)

    1.) Data collected is purely my from my interaction with the game only. IE, you don't get to data mine my harddrive, my browser history, etc.

    2.) I am not forced to watch ads to play the game. Showing some ads during loading periods is borderline, prolonging the load screen time to force me to watch ads is not acceptable. Need for Speed lends itself very well to in game advertising that does not get in the way of actual game play (billboards, decals, etc.)

    3.) Any collection is done only by the game, in the game. No root kits, background processes, etc.

    But in reality, they probably want to:

    1.) Rootkit your computer to watch any activity you do on your computer at all times.

    2.) Place an unhidable screen overlay that bombards you with ads all the time. And this overlay would be needed anytime the game was installed as part of the EULA.

    3.) Attach a GPS tracking device to your leg to monitor which stores you shop at, movies you watch, etc. to enhance you experience during the game.

    You know, the usual stuff. It will be all in the EULA. No worries...

  • Amazes me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @12:48PM (#29252917)

    how much freedom and privacy young people are willing to give up.

    I won't buy these-- for the first two decades I owned computers they were completely mine. Concepts like these weren't even considered *and* good games were profitable at the same inflation adjusted pricing levels (about $20 to $25 for a good game in the 80's).

    I'm headed the other way on this train. I've been reducing cable and it's likely to go black in the next few weeks.

  • by kupekhaize (220804) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @12:54PM (#29252975) Homepage

    Dear Activision,

    I just found out you are one of the companies that are using massive's massively annoying advertising technology to deliver ads in game. This is unacceptable, I'm not going to pay $100 for a game where I am going to constantly have advertisements thrown at me.

    I've just cancelled my guitar hero 5 pre order (which was going to ship out tomorrow). Glad I found out about this now. Just how many in game ads does it take to equal that $100? I don't know myself, but i bet you do. And its probably not a trivial number.

    Here's a news flash. WE DO NOT WANT THIS CRAP, AND WE ESPECIALLY DONT WANT TO PAY FOR IT.

  • Re:How to fix this (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 30, 2009 @12:57PM (#29253009)

    Problem is, many people will still go and download it, which is, I guess, the reason why they included advertisements; to get money from those who download it instead of buying.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 30, 2009 @01:45PM (#29253393)

    every sale lost to ingame advertisement will be attributed to piracy. Some clever sales rep. will probably conclude from ïthat data that the amount of ads has to be increased to stay profitable

  • the next bubble (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tom (822) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @01:53PM (#29253473) Homepage Journal

    I've been waiting for years for this whole advertisement business to collapse in on its own.

    Fact is, nobody can really say how much it works, or doesn't. What science is there in marketing knows that 50-90% of all advertisement is simply burnt money. The problem is that they can't say which ones.

    So, the business has expanded and expanded and expanded, until you can't go anywhere without being bombarded by ads. When things go badly, do more of the same. Sad how humans always work that way, no matter if its war, politics, banking, business...

    It'll be a big bust one day, and after that we're finally free of that terror(*). Well, one can hope.

    (*) no, advertisement won't go away. But this constant, permanent, noisy and interruptive stuff will.

  • Re:Will not work. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nmb3000 (741169) <nmb3000@that-google-mail-site.com> on Sunday August 30, 2009 @03:10PM (#29254041) Homepage Journal

    People will just be playing on private battle.net servers

    PvPGN is awesome -- I run a server at my school for a bunch of friends -- but to think that it will work with the new Battle.net that Blizzard is rolling out is absurd. At the very best it will probably be a year before they have a workable product (and if even then). Also, you have to consider that Blizzard knows very well about projects like it and will intentionally design the system to prevent private servers from being used.

    After seeing what Blizzard did to bnetd and their new-found hatred for LAN play, I'd be willing to bet that cryptography will play a big part in the new Battle.net service. More than likely, anyone that wants to run a private server will have to do some serious work on the game client to get it to connect to non-Blizzard servers (as opposed to now where you just give the game your private server's IP address). The current Battle.net is a complete joke in terms of security making it easy to reverse engineer and re-implement. YCBYA that Blizzard won't make that mistake again.

  • Re:How to fix this (Score:5, Interesting)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @05:24PM (#29255003)

    I'm sorry, but what right do you have to fuck with someone else's data like that?

    It's not someone else's data. It's data from one machine which they have no legal control or right to sending data to theirs. If their servers accept and process the data, and no password, key, or other means of repudiating the data is available, there's no ethical quandry. The interface is public and the intent of the interface is to accept data from public (and unvalidated) sources.

    This company is not in the wrong, they're just doing something that you don't like.

    If you think you're right and I'm wrong, and I think I'm right and you're wrong, who do you think I'm going to choose? :\

    It's one thing if they're tracking you without you knowing about it.

    Ignoring the fact that this statement is entirely immaterial to the issue at hand...Really? So it would be okay for me to follow you everywhere you go in public, as long as I announced it to you? If I stood outside your door when you went into private areas like your house, and patiently waited until you came out in public again?

    However, to go into someone else's system and screw with data...

    You have assumed that data is being altered, rather than created. Oops. You're also implying that entry is forced, rather than explicitly allowed.

    ...when the only thing tying you to it is the fact that you want to play a certain game, that's wrong.

    So the "rightness" or "wrongness" of something is dependent on whether a thing is done for pleasure or business?

    Do you feel all forms of "vigilante justice" are justified?

    That's a loaded question, so I'll equivocate instead: History has demonstrated that when all other forms of redress has been exhausted, "vigilante justice" as you call it, has proven an effective means of promoting social change. so-called "vigilantes" have been educating the general public and IT professionals for decades by uncovering and publishing security flaws, releasing proof-of-concept code, and demonstrating the necessity of validating input before processing it. What you call "vigilantism" is what others would define as a "public service".

  • Re:Will not work. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by shutdown -p now (807394) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @11:37PM (#29257219) Journal

    But many games will still play offline... I was pleasantly surprised when my internet connection was broken, that I could still play Empire: Total War.. Steam just prompted for "offline mode" which to me made total sense, as I only play single player scenarios. It took my aggravation of having purchased a boxed game and ending up with a Steam install down a notch.

    You've got very lucky, then. Google for "Steam offline mode" to see what I mean. In general, to play any Steam-enabled game offline, you need to go into "Offline mode" beforehand (i.e. while you still have Internet connection); also, it remembers the date, and will only let you play that way for so long. If you suddenly get connectivity troubles, too bad - I remember how extremely annoyed I was when my ISP went down for 2 days, and Left 4 Dead wouldn't even start - much less play - even in single player.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 31, 2009 @06:24AM (#29258871)

    When asked for nationality enter "Australian", they have data protection laws that demand any software with this type of monitoring has to have the option of being switched off! Any game that cannot switch this off has 2 choices: cannot sell their games in Australia or cannot activate this feature without punitive fines.
    Also applies to all Australian anywhere in the world...hence, we're all Auzzies mate.

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