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In-Game Advertising Coming to Anarchy Online 48

Swedish company Funcom has signed a deal with Massive, Inc to stream advertising into public areas of Rubi-Ka, the online world within Anarchy Online. Gamespot has the story. The ads are likely a direct result of the recent subscription free business model that the company has adopted for new players. From the article: "As consumers spends less time watching television and more time playing games (as indicated by numerous studies, including one from Nielsen), the game industry is turning its attention to understanding the potential to drive additional revenue from in-game advertising." Are all massive games going to be moving in this direction, or the direction that Guild Wars will take?
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In-Game Advertising Coming to Anarchy Online

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  • by Arctic Dragon ( 647151 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:48AM (#11776898)
    How about popup ads in a first-person shooter, with the ability to blast the hell out of them with a BFG [wikipedia.org]?
  • ..I could care less. If they want to advertise, go for it. It'd be awesome if they could make the adverts game related, display them on billboards, etc. Make em' seem like they belong.
    • Re:Personally.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Ayaress ( 662020 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @11:57AM (#11777693) Journal
      The summary here is inaccurate as to how the ads are going to be presented. It makes it sound as if they're chopping blocks out of the interface for them (and that's already a kinda crowded interface).

      According to this [anarchy-online.com] post by the developers:

      "These images will be similar to existing in-character advertisement already found in the game today, example of this would be Bronto Burger advertisements."

      They'll be on billboards, which are all over the game as it is. The game already has in-game (while also in-character) advertisement for the expansion packs, as well as the Alienware billboard near the entrance to Old Athen (which from my understanding isn't an advertisement for Alienware computers, but for the Alien Invasion expansion pack), but they're changed to fit character. The dev posts sounds as if the real life ads being run will also be made to fit the game's background:

      "We are also doing our utmost to ensure that these advertisements blend into the environment without being intrusive or break with the spirit of Anarchy Online. All of the advertisements that will be shown are going to be screened by Funcom personnel where we will weed out any advertisements that we feel are inappropriate before they get the chance to appear around Rubi-Ka."

      Also, it's not only "Likely" because of the free subscription, it is definitely because of it. Paying customers won't even see them:

      "This is being done to maintain our ability to keep providing the best game for everyone while keeping the monthly fee as low as we can... I want to reassure everyone that the new advertisements that will be introduced to the game will only be affecting players that are taking advantage of our free offer. All paying subscribers will be shown in-character images in place of the advertisement."

      Lastly, they did take the time to address privacy concerns. They assure users that they aren't sharing personal information, only registering that somebody watched an ad and which ad it was, not who watched it.
      • Re:Personally.. (Score:2, Interesting)

        by arthurh3535 ( 447288 )
        Interesting. While in fantasy settings it's pretty intusive, for your non-fantasy realms (City of Heroes, Matrix Online) these may be a good way to reduce costs/add revenue.

        While I don't necessarily *want* to see McDonald adds in City of Heroes, they also would not stick out at all. It's actually big enough that you could sell billboards in different areas (and to compititors in other areas.)

        This may be something that other companies need to look at.

  • Already done (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NetDanzr ( 619387 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @10:57AM (#11777001)
    Anarchy Online has bilboards across all cities at Rubi-Ka, and Alienware has been an advertiser there for a long time. If the new adverts are limited to those bilboards, I wouldn't mind. In fact, I'd see it as a nice distraction, at least for a while.
  • If they have in-game ads I would expect in-game stores too.
    • Re:In-game, eh? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mrgreen4242 ( 759594 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @12:21PM (#11777991)
      You know that's probably a really good idea... With EQ2 doing the /pizza thing, I could see other games with other clients doing similar stuff. Maybe you Amazon.com account gets linked into your WoW account and when you are shopping with a vender, the first item on eery 'page' is something from the the Amazon "store made for you" page or your wishlist or something. Right click it and it launches an in game browser window to give you more info and complete your purchase (billed right to you WoW account card). Blizzard gets a cut and everyones fees go down.

      Also, I think that product placement has a much bigger future in MMORPGs than just billboard style ads. You WoW players will know what I mean when I say "I want DEANS Ice Cold Milk", etc. All in all, if it helps cut subscription fees then I'd be all for it as long as it is integrated with the game and not, say, ads placed trailer stye before it launches, etc.

      Rob

  • It's okay. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kereira ( 795255 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @11:03AM (#11777070) Homepage Journal
    Well as long as they don't detract from the game ;) I've seen sponsor brands subtly advertised in some movies.
    • The funniest are the Pepsi and Coke cans. No matter where characters walk, the can label always turn exactly where the camera is looking. That's it we need wizards and knights drinking Pepsi.

    • Like Will Smith's Converse in I, Robot? Or the T-Mobile adverts in Charlie's angels? Or Nokia phones in The Matrix? They were about as subtle as the joke pizza placement in Wayne's world.

      Placements may have started off subtle, but these days it's like having ten second adverts in the middle of some films. Probably the same thing will happen here.
  • If they added anything annoying to any of my MMORPGs I'd probably leave. I imagine this is the same for most other players. A LOT of MMORPGs have many fans who are borderline ready to leave and just need the proper push out the door. However billboards, posters, and suttle refferences wouldn't be bad. Lets say a WoW quest called Bigger King if done in an appropriate method it would be ok. Basically the same as what they have but Paramount paying for the references to their movies and Nintendo paying f
    • As I posted in a link above, they are non-intrusive. The game's already full of in-character advertisement for things like the Bronto Burger and varions expensive weapons and some strange billboards with the words PWNZ ME in big red letters and pictures of low level mobs called Leets dancing on them. Free players will just start seeing paid advertisements instead, and they'll also be made to fit the game's atmosphere (as much as a McDonalds commercial can fit into a 300th century warzone, I suppose).
  • by RaisinBread ( 315323 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @11:09AM (#11777125) Homepage
    Please tell me that they will doing this via in-game avatars advertising for real-world products.

    Nothing would please me more than to make it my personal mission to hunt down each one of these characters and nuke the ever-loving tar out of them.

    Imagine the sheer joy of being part of a AdPK guild.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Advertising like this will work, but ONLY if the player gets something in return. In this case, the player does not have to pay a subscription fee. That seems like a fair trade.
    • Except that history has proven that it won't last very long. Remember when people would pay for cable so that they didn't get commercials? Remeber when people could pay to see a movie so they didn't have to sit through commercials. Remeber when to grocery store club cards gave you a better price than the store down the street. They get you use to the idea of the advertising or information gathering tools being there, and then they can start working the price back up slowly. After a while you are paying
  • ...THAT explains that billboard for "Viagra" I saw on Tatooine... and I took it literally that it would give me "the force"!!!! I'm so bummed!
    • ...THAT explains that billboard for "Viagra" I saw on Tatooine... and I took it literally that it would give me "the force"!!!! I'm so bummed!
      If you experience "the force" for four hours straight, be sure to consult your doctor...
  • Isn't it possible - in fact, far more likely - that Funcom secured in-game advertising as a source of revenue first, and then decided that they could make the game subscription-free? The article suggests that it happened the other way around.

    • Re:Causality (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ayaress ( 662020 )
      Personally, I think they made it free first. Remember, it was originally only going to be free for a few weeks to draw people in. I think they extended the free period for a year when the advertisement offer came up.

      In the original annoucnements for the free offer, the one caveat they added was that the offer cost them money. If too many people took advantage of it to the point that the drag on the servers made the game less enjoyable for paying players, they'd cut it short. That's something they stressed,
      • Actually, they announced the possible partnership with this company a looooong time ago, before they made the free trial period longer than 14 days.

        Honestly, who knows and who cares which came first. Before they ever mentioned anything to outsiders, they had probably decided this was a good idea.

        The game has been running billboards in-game for their expansions. They're actually quite cool. Advertisements for new vehicles you can only get in the new expansions, advertisements that talked about staking y
  • Careful! (Score:2, Insightful)

    Yeah this is ok if it makes it free - but only then.

    This could well be part of the slippery slope of making computer games into tv. With tv you pay for cable and then have to pay for it again in adverts. And don't say they're seperate things because there not. If I have to pay extra a month to get a channel like e4 (UK) then i shouldn't be made to watch adverts. Full stop. At least have two rates of pay - cheap with adverts and expensive without them.

    Pretty soon you'll be paying for games and watching

    • Of course, we can't have any AD free time, now can we? It makes the baby MBA cry.
    • This is an off hand prediction based on emotion and guesswork rather than science, logic and stock trends

      Dude, this is Slashdot, everybody posts like that.
    • Yep, they'll do whatever they can to increase profit. This is similar to ads in movie theaters before the feature film (at least that's how it works in Hungary). I paid for it, and still have to watch ads and trailers of upcoming movies (which are also just ads) for like 10-15 minutes. Of course, I can try to show up late 10 minutes, but with Murphy's Law at work that strategy actually led me to miss the first few minutes of a movie more than once.
      The ugliest thing I have come across so far is my Shrek 2 D
  • by ebrandsberg ( 75344 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @11:38AM (#11777480)
    In eve, in many space stations, they are advertising a website, that you can get a subscription to using in-game money. I won't go into details, but it is a long-standing joke in the game.


  • FUNCOM is Norwegian, not Swedish.
  • by darkmayo ( 251580 ) on Friday February 25, 2005 @01:56PM (#11779297)
    Just a little PA with Relevance for you. Tho in AO's case it would be "My Nanites need PEPSI!"

    http://www.penny-arcade.com/view.php3?date=2002-09 -18&res=l [penny-arcade.com]

    Horrific "Slippery Slope" or innocent ad revenue only time will tell... mmmm Lymon
  • Doesn't this kind of ruin the attempt at immersion in a game? Every time you see an ad for something that is completely unrelated to the game, that instead makes you focus on the real world.

    From what I understand, some MMORPG players play the game as sort of a temporary escape from real life. I bet some people would get pretty annoyed if they say an in-game ad for a technical institute or some other advertisement that implies that they're not working hard enough.
  • I think that's terrible.

    One of the reasons to NOT watch TV is because of the incessant advertising. I don't like ads in my movies, and I don't want ads in my games.

    Gaming is about being told lies and enjoying it. Advertising is about lying to me to get me to do what you want me to do. One is relaxing, the other is not.
    • Then play games that you have to pay separately for? If ad-based revenue works for some games then great, let the people who don't care play them for free. If it bothers you then play a game that requires a monthly subscription.

      I'm working under the assumption that this model will only be relevant in MMO games, as advertising in regular, stand alone games is old news (see Tony Hawk and Gran Turismo for examples). Those are usually called/considered market tie-ins.

      Something I would like to see is a system fo

  • Is located here. [somethingawful.com]

    This is the funniest review I've ever read.
  • If you play the SSX series, GTA, GT4, and a few others, they already have in-game adverts. SSX 3 does it with dnL (the 7up with caffeine thing), Honda, and a few others. I can't remember what all was part of the GTA advertising, as I never played much of it, but I know it was there.

    Personally, being a little new to the MMORPG type games, I have already found that as new updates/versions come out, they are raising the prices of them. That's one reason I haven't tried WoW or EQ2 yet. I can't see spending

  • It's Norwegian!
    Jeeze, is getting nationalities straight so much to ask? And no, we're not the capital of Canada.
  • ...'Big! Strong! Wow! Tada-O!'
  • as if commercials in the movie theatre weren't bad enough!
  • What do you want to bet that even with in-game advertising, MMORPGs will still see subscription price hikes.

"'Tis true, 'tis pity, and pity 'tis 'tis true." -- Poloniouius, in Willie the Shake's _Hamlet, Prince of Darkness_

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