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Role Playing (Games) The Almighty Buck

Refreshing Taste of Sprite Invades Anarchy Online 77

When in-game advertising was announced as a backbone of the new free of charge Anarchy Online, it seemed like this far off concept that we'd see 'someday'. That day is now. Grimwell has a look at Rubi-Ka after the invasion of the marketeers. From the article: "The advertisements were blinking on various billboards, both in cities and in instanced missions. They randomly displayed ads for the upcoming tournament, the "Rubi-Ka rumble", or the above product placements. Obviously, one or the other of them could be existing through time, human cataclysms, and space travel to the future planet of Rubi-ka, but seeing Motley Crue ads did cause me to wonder when I'd see them touring Omni Entertainment." Totally worth it if only for the screenshots.
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Refreshing Taste of Sprite Invades Anarchy Online

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  • Ach, Mein Thirsten! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Japong ( 793982 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @11:27PM (#12172932)

    I see the developers were reading up on their Penny Arcade. []

    Seriously though, as long as they're able to avoid television commercial-like breaks in the gameplay, I have no problem with this. My biggest gripe with MMO gaming is having to a pay a monthly fee - so much so that I even gave Project Entropia a try (helpful hint: do not play Project Entropia). Since AO got some pretty good reviews, and since it's being offered for the low, low price of free, I'm certainly going to give this one a try.

    • Since AO got some pretty good reviews, and since it's being offered for the low, low price of free, I'm certainly going to give this one a try.

      Go ahead and give it a try. It will only cost you the download time. But if you were to ask for my opinion, I'd advise against it.

      I tried it the first time they offered free play (a month free) and couldn't stand it. Buggy, laggy and gameplay sucked.

      I tried it against last week. At least it's not laggy. And the char animation is slightly above south park qua
      • Sad isn't it? I got in when they first offered the "grab a free year of playing" thing, and played, dunno, 2 hours total. It's the most boring, trite, laggy crapfest I've seen in a long time. They gave me a free year and I quit after 2 hours. How bloody sad is that?
      • I have a pretty decent machine but I was totally blown away by music skipping, character popin- popouts, and the sound effect clicking. At first I thought I needed to upgrade my computer but I got Doom3 to work at medium resolution just fine on my computer. So I'm going to have to blame the developers on this one. Even though it's free it's still crap.
      • This reminds me of a hilarious review [] I saw on AO a few years back; had me in tears the first time!
      • Am I the only who was totally confused by the title of the article? I thought for sure that Anarchy Online was converting over to sprites for graphics- like some old-school game.

        It took me a while before I figured out they meant the soft-drink...oh well.
    • Following up on Japong's post, the whole 'ads in video games' schism was also mentioned in VG Cats [] . . .
      • I thought the ads in Pikmin were funny though. Generally the products were odd things like lip balm and it was funny to read what the ship's computer decided they were and what marketing techniques they should use when selling the objects to suckers back on their home planet.
    • You have a nice video (which u cannot skip) where Sam fisher jumps into an helico, speaks to his boss and then grabs a pack of AirWaves (Chewing Gums from Wrigley(tm) ) and starts chewing...

      full zoom on the pack, etc...

      I almost stopped playing at this time (say 5 minutes into the game...)

    • Contrary to the others, I say DO give it a try. I've never played an MMORPG before, but the game is damn fun. Of course, being an MMO game, it's only fun if you find the right people to play with. Since there are so many people logged in all of the time, that isn't normally a problem. You can usually find a nice group of folks to play with.

      I also tried it only because it went free. A couple of friends gave me some tips as I started playing, and the game's been great to me. Occasional bugs, sure, but
    • > so much so that I even gave Project Entropia a try (helpful hint: do not play Project Entropia)

      Any one care to summarize/comment on the strengths and weaknesses of PE?
  • Does anyone actually know what the subscription fee for The Matrix Online is going to be? Feels kind of strange to spend $50 on an MxO box and not actually know how much a month I'm gunna get hit with when they start billing.

    As for advertisements in-game, sure, go for it, I don't care.. it just looks like more uban sprawl. In fact, I'd have trouble beleiving The Matrix world without advertisement.
  • Stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dshaw858 ( 828072 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @11:28PM (#12172940) Homepage Journal
    People play games like this because they like to feel immersed in the world in which they're playing. Putting modern advertisements like this into games breaks the immersion (as the article pointed out) and in the end result would (1) cause people to stop wanting to play the game and (2) not make people buy these products. People that feel pissed of at Sprite, for example, because they're interfering in their game are not going to want to buy that product.

    - dshaw
    • Re:Stupid (Score:4, Insightful)

      by schild ( 713993 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @11:33PM (#12172977) Homepage Journal
      Yes, people play games to be immersed. AO is a futurepunk (well, more future, less punk) style game. It would have advertisements. Now, if there were a giant ad for TI-82 calculators in Everquest, I may be inclined to agree with you. /pizza doesn't count simply because it's not visibly noticeable. It interferes in no way whatsoever with your EQ2 catassing. Oh, and the people who stop playing the game or refuse to buy the drink/food/condoms because of the ad. Yea, they weren't going to buy the merchandise anyway - and they're certainly the same people who wouldn't play the game if it weren't free. That type of person doesn't deserve fun.
      • Condom ads in an MMORPG? How far from your target market can you get.
      • Re:Stupid (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ZephyrXero ( 750822 )
        If the developers and advertisers tried hard enough you could put ads into pretty much any universe (that has at least a little technology) if you make the ads have to match the world they're in. For something futuristic or modern like Anarchy Online or Matrix, it's very easy to just slap real modern ads on all the billboards and whatnot, but for games like World of Warcraft or Everquest it's a "little" harder ;) I don't know if the advertisers would accept such agreements, but their ads would have to work
        • Or even better.

          Put the product in game with stat bonuses.

          You pay per stat+

          The higher stat items would become more valuable, and people actually using the items in game would begin to associate the product with the bonus.

          Player:I need to buy a bunch of Sprite to pump my speed up for PVP. Man I'm thristy. I better grab a sprite from the kitchen.

          Then you could also put in reverse advertising with codes from the sprite bottle-caps being tradable for chances to win powerful equipment (with the sprite logo)
          • Or instead of some magic elixir or mana boost, you drink a that point, it is just product placement, like you would have in a movie.
            • The difference is that here you are drinking the sprite and associating it with a reward.

              On the movie it is someone else drinking the Sprite.
    • "People that feel pissed of at Sprite, for example, because they're interfering in their game are not going to want to buy that product."

      Funny, whenever I see a Sprite imitation in a game (like San Andreas), it startles me. It'd be one thing if the game paused to tell me about it, it's another when the world looks more real because.. well gee whiz, the real world has adverts.
      • It depends on the game. You would expect to see ads for these kind of things in the world that GTA is set in, modern day USA. Anarchy Online, on the other hand, is set 30,000 years in the future.
    • You shoudl try need for speed underground... Basicly, the concept is you're driving around a city at break-neck speeds, and as you are driving around, you see billboards for McDonalds, and everything else you'd see ads for.

      Then there are some race tracks (think indy, on the winding, up and down tracks) that have ads for Kuhmo, Yokohamo, Mopar, etc... Just like when I watch it on TV.

      It really does fit, adds realism, and I don't really give a damn.
    • A couple months ago Trond Aas, the CEO at Funcom, said "we know that most gamers want in-game advertisement to heighten the sense of realism." []

      I understand if they need to use advertisement to support the free version of the game, but do not insult our intelligence by telling us that we want it.

      Ads for Sprite and Motley Crue albums in a game set 30,000 years in the future do not highten the realism. The Alienware ads, however, weren't that bad. They fit right into the style of the game.
      • It would help if instead of seeing 4 boards with Motley Crue ads almost all the time, I would see 4 boards with different ads on them at once. And as far as the sprite and alienware... I haven't seen anything except Motley Crue and G4 (and a grand total of 2 occurances of PC Gamer) and I've been playing close to a week.
  • Whineplay. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by schild ( 713993 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @11:30PM (#12172955) Homepage Journal
    Who gives a fuck about advertising in online games? Particularly when the game is free for you to play. MMOGs, in case you hadn't read the giant writing on the wall, are expensive to run. They need to make up for that cost. That's called advertising. It's easy, generates steady income, and can be targeted. Good for them, bring on more ads. If you can't deal with ads, just don't play the fucking game. You'll be saving companies bandwidth costs anyway. The above paragraph is the longest anyone should be discussing ads in free games.
    • Re:Whineplay. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Black Pete ( 222858 ) on Friday April 08, 2005 @01:51AM (#12173646)
      Who gives a fuck about advertising in online games? Particularly when the game is free for you to play. MMOGs, in case you hadn't read the giant writing on the wall, are expensive to run. They need to make up for that cost. That's called advertising. It's easy, generates steady income, and can be targeted.

      I personally couldn't care less whether a game runs an ad or not... except for this one point the article brought up:
      G4 TV, however, is the gaming press and this in-game advertising, new revenues for games, and marketing through them, is news... So, I'm sure we can expect some news coverage of this. Will they actually endorse the game, or publicize this? Would that be a conflict of interest for G4?
      I found this to be a valid and worrisome point. Remember DRIV3R? [] Atari basically bought reviews from the gaming press to give the game an inflated review score so it'd sell more copies.

      When review scores are "bought", this hurts me, the consumer. In such incentives became commonplace, how am I supposed to trust reviews to tell me which games are good and which aren't, so I know how to spend my hard earned cash?

      • Might wanna check on those reviews. Were they of the console game or the cell phone game? 'Cause I *know* one of the guys who did the cell phone game, and their code *worked*.
      • Well, when you discover that a particular piece of the press was bought, then you stop subscribing to that magazine, stop visiting that website, etc. If enough people do this, you end up hurting the parent company in terms of lost subscriptions, lost circulations of the mag which hurts advertising income, lost ads viewed on a webpage, etc. Personally I use reviews for a guideline. I've played plenty of games rated 6/10 that I loved, and plenty rated 9/10 that I hated. After noticing some trends, I find
    • My concern isn't the advertisements as much as where it might lead us. First it's the guilt trips; "this website is supported by advertising, you should be clicking on the banners.", and of course, the pop-ups, pop-unders, and interstitials. The next step is "if you use your Tivo/VCR to skip commercials, or get up and go to the bathroom, change channels, you're stealing".

      I don't want to see MMORPGs go the way of the Web or broadcast TV. If you can't afford to offer your service without nagging me to visit
  • Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mESSDan ( 302670 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @11:32PM (#12172969) Homepage
    It is worth noting that the advertisements only appear to the free players of the game, not the players paying the monthly fee. With that in mind, I'm ok with it. Heck, I'm happy about it. Finally, one less thing for people to gripe about; The monthly fee for MMORPGs!

    Let us hope that they don't get greedy, and that they have enough sales to atleast break even.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    It seems like it'd be ok in this setting, as long as the ads stay on the billboards. In any game with a modern or near-future urban setting, ads can enhance the realism.

    If items are sponsored by advertisers, say a Sprite's Water Gun of Death is created, then I'll get concerned.

    If there are ads like SpikeTV's ads during Star Trek (animated on the side of the screen, and sometimes with sound), then that's the last straw. A break in the action like a cutscene to show an ad would be horrible too.
  • by SavannahLion ( 701337 ) on Friday April 08, 2005 @12:59AM (#12173447) Homepage

    It's kind of hard to write this without turning it into some kind of senseless rant :(... oh well.

    This is just the first step in a really fine line the developers and advertisements are trying to find. In my opinion, advertisements have gotten way out of control. For example, in my old High School there's a subtle form of advertisement where Coca-Cola gave our school a certain percentage of profit from a bunch of soda machines located around campus. I didn't realize the impact of this when I found out that our school actually had a quota to meet every month before the school could receive their cut. Yep, fat kids just so the school can pay their bills.

    OK, so it's not like AO is suffering for cash with their subscribers. It's fairly explicit the advertisements are displayed to non-paying, "customers." But wait! What's this?

    Even with atmosphere breaking marketing, would any players actually complain about ads if they resulted in lowered or free subscription costs?

    There are two key points in that sentence. The first is the author admits the ads break the atmosphere of the game. Honestly, imagine running around Diablo II and seeing Pepsi soda machines out in the middle of nowhere? Or playing a game that takes place 500 years into the future and flying a, "Doritos Battlecruiser," into a fight? Free or not, I'll go somewhere else, thank you.

    The other point he brings up is how players might not complain if the costs are reduced or even removed. If some random company starts putting advertisements into their MMOG, they might not actually lower fees or even make it free for everybody. Subscribe to Cable TV and you'll see what I mean. For example, Cable TV is always loaded with advertisements. I pay $45/month and I still get the same number of advertisements as I would if I didn't pay any money at all. Only difference would be fewer channels to watch. Hell, I'd have to be paying $100/month or more to even hope of getting any channels advert free.

    AO might keep this current model. Who knows? But I have serious doubts that other MMOG's or future ones will follow suit. Freebie accounts might have these ugly advertisements. Paid accounts might have more subtle ones, or ones you can control. The point is, the idea of paying cash to get rid of advertisements isn't going to last very long once you have that captive audience and some bean counter figures out how much more profit the company will earn.

    If I'm in a game, I'd rather live without the ads. I don't want to be kicking some alien ass in Duke Nukem Forever in a sea of redundant Coca-Cola and McDonalds ads 20 years from now. I get enough of those adverts in real life.


    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 08, 2005 @03:37AM (#12174005)
      Doom 3 could have done with being sponsored by Maglite, though...
    • "Or playing a game that takes place 500 years into the future and flying a, "Doritos Battlecruiser," into a fight? "

      If you remember your history from the film Demolition Man you would know that it would be a Taco Bell Battlecruiser in the future.
      • "If you remember your history from the film Demolition Man you would know that it would be a Taco Bell Battlecruiser in the future."

        You don't realize how close Doritos and Taco Bell really are. Taco Bell was part of the Tricon Food Group which recently renamed themselves to Yum! []. Yum!, "spun off," from PepsiCo in the late 90's. I think at the time of the seperation, Tricon consisted of only three chains, Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut. It's up to six or so now.

        Meanwhile, everyone knows Doritos just happens

    • As a teacher at a high school I can understand your complaints about the soda machines but there is a "solution" of sorts. At my school we changed the options in the machine from pop to a juice selection. Remember Coke owns more drinks than, well...Coke. Blame the administrators for not exploring their options fully.

      In regards to AO, heck if they'd extend the offer to past accounts so I could reactivate my old account under the new scheme I'd do it. Right now, I don't see a point in playing up a new cha
  • by Anonymous Coward
    But do Sprite, et al, want to be associated with the word "anarchy"? Wait till the reactionary right-wing moralists hear about this - there will be trouble. "Sprite supports evil liberal agenda of societal anarchy! Save the children! Donate to us!"
    • Hmm, they might, in a sense. Sprite's slogan revolved around "Obey your thirst", where they are trying to convince people to drink Sprite because they don't use celebrity or other traditional soft-drink promotions.

      Of course, they used Kobe Bryant in that campaign, so who knows...
  • by Datasage ( 214357 ) <> on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:26AM (#12173765) Homepage Journal
    For Matrix Online to start including ads. Take a look at this screenshot. s_6121636.html?page=7 []

    Its ad for the recent film The Jacket, which unsuprisingly was released by a company owned by Time Warner.
  • Great idea (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Reignking ( 832642 )
    As a marketer and an avid game-player, I love the idea. It brings more realism to the game. While I appreciate the humor and creativity that Rockstar has gone through to create fake products, it does reduce the realism from the world. I also find it exciting that these ads aren't static; they will change over time, perhaps depending on your location or demographic.
    • Sounds like somebody doesn't like the refreshing taste of Sprunk. That, or you've been buying clothes at the Zip (or maybe at the Gash) for too long.

      the parody of ads (and especially in GTA3, the parody of radio culture as well) is what made the game #1 in its genre. I hope they stay away from real advertising -- would Sprite legal let you drive a car through its billboard? Sprunk's legal forces didn't care a whit.

      P.S. -- it might not be good idea to advertise that you're in marketing on slashdot.
  • I just think it's cool that they use Bittorrent as the only way to download a copy.
  • They should take this a step further. The best gun in the game should be a Colt, or a Remington, or whatever other gun maker ponies up the dough. When you drink Sprite in the game, it should give you health back. OBEY YOUR THIRST! And hey, the bad guys could all be wearing logos of the competitors, you know, like "KILL THE EVIL SIERRA MIST CULTISTS!" Yeah. Rock on!

    But yeah, if I wasn't having so much fun in World of Warcraft now I'd probably play AO for free with ads.
  • As long as the ad contains beautiful, buxom women engaging in sexual activites for the namesake of the product, ala "Family Guy"

    Pawtucket Ale
    If you drink it, beautiful women will have sex in your backyard"
  • Sprites? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nacturation ( 646836 ) <> on Friday April 08, 2005 @12:53PM (#12178166) Journal
    Did anybody else read this as they're switching from polygon-based models back to good old traditional sprites? []

    But to keep this on topic, I fully support the move for in-game advertising, especially if the article is true:
    The discussion of in-game ads last time dealt with the obvious "immersion breaking" factor of /pizza in a fantasy atmosphere, and Anarchy Online (AO) certainly could be in danger of doing this as well... but the difference is that AO's new ad scheme is allowing them to give the basic game FREE, with no subscription fees!!

    FREE! Free I said!!

    No this isn't just a downloadable trial, and there really isn't any catch... and, yes there's no subscription fees. You don't even require a credit card to join.
    (Emphasis mine.) To this, I say: bring it on!

    Something else to consider: will this perhaps eventually fund game development? A company has a concept for a game, whether MMO or not, and they get companies to sponsor the development in exchange for prominent placement? So maybe in the next MMO game we'll see the "eBay Auction House" or the "General Motors Inter-zone Transportation" place? It's a bit tasteless to just throw a company name up when it has nothing to do with the theme of the game, but if it's something like The Matrix Online, where the urban sprawl lends itself perfectly for company-sponsored locations -- just like real life -- then why the heck not?

    Companies already spend boatloads of money and take a shotgun approach to marketing, spending millions on advertising for a single SuperBowl spot. Why not spend a fraction of that, fund some game development, and get thousands more impressions targeted at the exact kind of audience you want. ATI, nVidia, and Intel to name a few already use this concept when sponsoring game competitions. What better way to reach their exact target market?
  • At least these ads are integrated into the game to seem lifelike and subtle. Can you imagine pop-up ads, or what Tivo is planning to do?
  • I really wouldn't have a problem with the ads if they didn't jump out the way they do. It almost seems as if they're too graphically "smooth" for the rest of the game. Like, you can tell someone made those especially to catch your eye and they make them even brighter than the rest of the illuminated game signs.

    I wish they'd just make them fit in with the game.

The cost of feathers has risen, even down is up!