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Personalized In-Game Advertising In Upcoming Titles 244

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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  • Will not work. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jack2000 ( 1178961 ) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @01:10PM (#29252523)
    I have two words for you: DNS Blacklist
  • Re:Will not work. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RobVB ( 1566105 ) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @01:14PM (#29252569)
    If Blizzard is going to implement this, they'll probably do it via Battle.net somehow. And knowing how much money Blizzard is raking in, I wouldn't be surprised if other publishers got the balls to set up restrictive you-must-be-on-line-and-connected-to-us-if-you-want-to-play "services".

    How are we supposed to react to something like this?

    The only easy answer is "don't buy those games". The sad part is that most major games will probably start using this or similar technologies.

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

    by jack2000 ( 1178961 ) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @01:16PM (#29252595)
    Only way in hell I'm going to buy such a game is if it's free. When I pay, I expect not to be pestered.
  • How to fix this (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Drakin020 ( 980931 ) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @01:18PM (#29252617)

    You want to know how you the consumer can fix this? You don't buy the games that have this kind of advertisement in it!

    I mean I'm all for static advertising in games that are free, or reduced in price. (Quakelive for example)

    But if I'm paying $50 bucks as well as sacrificing privacy and having to deal with ads, I'll have none of it.

    But the only way you can fix this is by not buying the product. Show them that you will have no part in it. Problem is, many people will still go out and buy it, which is why they will continue to do it. If they know they can still make money, they will continue with this kind of stuff until we say "No more"

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

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

    by ZosX ( 517789 ) <zosxavius AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday August 30, 2009 @01:18PM (#29252619) Homepage

    I have two words for you: DNS Blacklist

    Great now I need adblock for games. Isn't need for speed commercialized enough anyways? This sort of thing has been going on in hollywood for a long time now. It was only a matter of time before games started doing it. Now with the internet they can just stream you fresh targeted ads. It would be nice if people just voted no to ads with their pocketbook, but I doubt most people would care. They are already used to a steady stream of ads in their daily lives. Sad really.

  • Re:Hacking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RobVB ( 1566105 ) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @01:22PM (#29252659)

    PC games have had ads for a very long time. The first game that comes to mind is World Cup 98 [gamespot.com], which had ads for Snickers, JVC, Mastercard, Opel, Fujifilm, Gilette, Braun and Adidas (check the screenshots on Gamespot). Something like that doesn't bother me at all, it adds to realism and immersion (it's better than billboards that say Snockers, JCV and Adadis), and I'm fine with publishers trying to make a few extra bucks.

    What I'm trying to say is, it's not the ads that I'm worried about, it's the "anonymous" information they're sending back and forth. I trust they won't send any of my "personal" information (name, telephone number, personal e-mails), but where do you draw the line?

  • Re:Hacking (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @01:29PM (#29252717)

    Games like World Cup 98 are exceptions to the rule, because the advertisements reflect what you see on TV when you watch those sporting events, lending an air of authenticity to them.

    The vast majority of games are not set in the modern real world, though, and advertisements for modern real world products are inappropriate in those games.

  • Re:Will not work. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tynin ( 634655 ) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @01:36PM (#29252793)

    Only way in hell I'm going to buy such a game is if it's free. When I pay, I expect not to be pestered.

    I'm going to make an assumption that you also do not have cable/satellite TV? I can only imagine that sooner than later game companies are going to start force feeding us ads and tell us that it is value added as the additional cash flow is needed in order maintain and expand on... well, anything they feel like telling us. And the sheep will continue to pay and ask for more... :(

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

    by Toonol ( 1057698 ) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @01:39PM (#29252819)
    Absolutely. That's why Starcraft 2 is such a consumer-unfriendly game. I'm not going to buy it; I rather hope nobody else does, although I'm sure they will. Once publishers manage to get acceptance for the idea that a game constantly needs to have an online connection, i.e., they will have seized ownership away from the consumer. They can deactivate, alter, and advertise in the game however they want, at any time.

    A lot of publishers are watching how Starcraft 2 does. I can only hope it gets the Spore treatment from the public.
  • Realism (Score:3, Insightful)

    by theJmtz ( 842443 ) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @01:50PM (#29252935)
    I think the privacy concern here is a real one. However I don't see the big deal about advertising in games. When I'm playing a game like GTA4 which is supposed to be in NYC, or Rainbow 6 vegas, making a city look real is a major part of those games. Real cities have advertising: billboards, storefronts, posters, whatever. "Fake" adds work great for those, but seeing an add for a company I've heard of certainly doesn't hurt the immersion, it can actually help it. Of course this doesn't apply to the stupid big splash-screen adds or things showing up in blatant, or gameplay changing ways. Those are annoying and need to go. Clearly some games can add this (like those I mentioned above) while others, say Final Fantasy or Mario anything will never lend themselves to this. I think it's a matter of context. Grabbing private information from my computer/console to try and customize these adds is a direction I'm not a huge fan of, but this is very much not isolated to video games. It's all over the web and I'm sure advertisers are trying to do it elsewhere.
  • Re:Will not work. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by jack2000 ( 1178961 ) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @01:56PM (#29252997)
    Nope, stopped watching TV mostly because of the news and ads.
    No newspapers either. This did Wonders for my peace of mind...
  • Re:Will not work. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by morghanphoenix ( 1070832 ) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @02:17PM (#29253167)
    I purposefully avoid adds that pop up in games or on TV. If I want to buy something I go looking for it, I don't automatically jump on whatever is thrust in my face the most. I want comparisons, user reviews, studies on safety and privacy if it applies. I don't care about brand names, in most cases don't care about appearance, and sure don't care about catchy jingles that get in your head and won't leave. If I find myself humming about mini-sirloin burgers when I'm out looking for something to eat I can guarantee that I won't be stopping at Jack-in-the-Box.
  • Re:Will not work. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Evil Shabazz ( 937088 ) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @02:18PM (#29253179)
    Good luck with that. You have heard of guys like RAZOR1911?
  • Re:Yay! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @02:20PM (#29253189) Homepage Journal

    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!

    Yeah, as if that is going to happen.

    The games industry is going down (in both senses) the same route that the movie, and music industries have. Who do you think will profit from this, the producers and artists, or the distributors? My bet's not on the developers.

  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @02:36PM (#29253317) Homepage

    > We are all use to it.

    Speak for yourself.

  • Re:How to fix this (Score:4, Insightful)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @02:44PM (#29253381)

    End up in jail :\

    Integrity has no need of laws. Too many things are allowed these days because of unjust laws that protect unethical conduct. "No duty, however, binds us to these so-called laws, whose corrupting influence menaces what is noblest in our being..." -- Benjamin Constant. I've always advocated doing what you feel in your heart is right; You'll be damned for it anyway. A lot of people here have the sentiment that what this company is doing is wrong -- they need to explore those feelings on a deeper level and then resolve to a course of action. Most likely, they will choose to do nothing (and that is fine). But if they choose that out of fear of punishment then we've become a sorry lot indeed.

  • Re:Amazes me (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 30, 2009 @03:16PM (#29253677)

    Well, the same with me - I started gaming in the mid-late 70's, and as you say, for a few decades there, my computer was mine.

    But times change. You, me, and the handful of others who think the same way simply don't matter. There aren't enough of us. The shift will happen whether we want it to or not. Young people really *don't* care about privacy. (As a rule of thumb - there are exceptions of course - there are 17 y.o's who agree with us, just not very many).

    I believe things like this are part of getting old (I'm 51 now). Eventually we'll be shut out of all of it, because the things we care about no longer matter to the vast majority. The ability to have a Turing complete computing device which serves no other master than you will be gone, because both governments and big companies want control over your computing experience. There will be DRM down to the hardware level so that you can be stopped from running things like adblock which harm someone's revenue stream. You will only be able to run signed software (it's starting already in mobile computing environments). So that Iranian protesters can be cut off en-mass by a central authority. Only "trusted" systems will be allowed on the network. Want to do online banking? Play a game? Send a holographic mail to your pal? Sorry, your system isn't trusted if it's still under your control. And as long as people can still view whatever replaces youtube and myspace by then, they won't care.

    It's the way of things. I'll go down fighting, supporting openness, but I'm under no illusions that it's a war I'm gonna win. The lack of my $45 and yours for some game won't change shit, because for each one like us, there are a thousand 15 year olds who don't know ring-0 from their ass, and will happily install Tages or SecureRom to play the latest shooter. They don't understand or care about control of their own computer being taken away from them. It's not really a computer to them - it's entertainment, ala television.

  • Re:Hacking (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 30, 2009 @03:45PM (#29253893)

    They're called crackers, and it's their job to sanitize incoming games and make them safe to install.

  • Everyone who has bandwidth caps should figure up how much bandwidth their crap is sucking and hand these assclowns a nice bill at the end of the month. If enough folks had a living shitfit and handed them bills for the bandwidth they are wasting I'm sure the bad publicity alone would be enough to get them to STFU and quit this crap. We should also have a website set up listing the ads shown on these things so we can boycott the products. As we have seen with the Obama "racist" remark by Beck advertisers don't want their ads dropped into the middle of a shitstorm, which is EXACTLY what we should give them!

    I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I am really tired of this bullshit. I don't even buy games on release date anymore because the &^%$&^&%! DRM [metacafe.com] don't work on my 64bit XP (it IS in the drive, you stupid fucking thing!) so I have to wait until all the patches, caused by companies putting out code so shitty it smells worse than a porta-potty at a chili cookoff, have been cracked so I can actually use what I fucking PAID FOR, but now, after assraping us on the price AND bending us over with DRM infections (and as a PC repairman who has had to clean up the mess that SecuROM+Starforce+Safedisc caused I can assure you it IS nastier than any trojan out there) now they want to bend us over AGAIN with ads? Fuck you and the horse you rode in on, you greedy little bastards.

    Why in the hell should I NOT pirate your shit, if you are gonna treat me like dirt, spit in my face, and kick me one in the balls for good measure after I give you my hard earned cash? I predict the piracy rates will go through the roof as the pirates figure out how to kill this shit, making the pirate version yet again leagues better than the actual retail version. And I apologize to any who I may have offended with my language, but I am so tired of these game companies acting like their shit don't stink and finding ever newer and nastier ways to treat us like dirt. Especially when in my favorite genre (FPS) they seem to be able to do nothing be rehash the same tired old shit year after year, just tacking on more bling to it.

    Yes, let's go back to WW2 AGAIN, it isn't like we have all seen that shit like a 1000 times over before! Oh yes, give us more "rubberband" AI, where you either get guys that are so stupid they can't figure out something is wrong when you pop a cap in their buddy from 20 yards away, or they have grunts that can instantly find you from any cover, hit you with a crappy pistol for 100+ yards and take more damage than fricking Michael Myers and keep on coming. Yeah that's so much fun. Talentless hacks.

  • Re:How to fix this (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DrEldarion ( 114072 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [0791uhcsm]> on Sunday August 30, 2009 @04:56PM (#29254349)

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

    This company is not in the wrong, they're just doing something that you don't like. They're putting a condition on the playing of this game - if you don't like that condition, you're more than free to not play it. You can't dictate your terms to them just because you feel like you have some right to have whatever you want.

    It's one thing if they're tracking you without you knowing about it. If every human was assigned a unique number that the government used to track your every action, I would have no problem messing with that data. However, to go into someone else's system and screw with data when the only thing tying you to it is the fact that you want to play a certain game, that's wrong.

    How would you like to admin a system that someone was messing with just because they didn't like how you did business? Do you feel all forms of "vigilante justice" are justified?

  • Re:Will not work. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 30, 2009 @07:06PM (#29255325)

    The kernel driver + friends that were designed to protect Lineage II didn't delay private servers for very long.

    If Blizzard can't protect its cash cow (World of Warcraft) against private servers, what makes you think they'd put in all the extra effect to protect a game that people aren't paying for monthly?

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

    by stimpleton ( 732392 ) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @07:36PM (#29255543)
    "I can only hope it gets the Spore treatment from the public."

    A No.1 seller and recieved positively?
  • by CubeNudger ( 984277 ) on Sunday August 30, 2009 @11:14PM (#29256743)
    So why have game companies adopted this sort of shit, even though their market research tells them that their customers hate it? Blame Wall Street. It's no coincidence that publicly traded companies like EA and Activision are the pioneers of this garbage, and privately-held Valve refuses to participate (see their longstanding refusal to charge for DLC on the Xbox, for example). Valve knows that in the long-run, angering their customers will result in fewer gamers and a declining industry. Are EA and Activision too retarded to realize this? No! But their executives are under pressure to deliver results every single quarter. If you didn't know this, video games are only profitable for one quarter a year, around Christmas.

    The dream of the suits has always been to find a way to generate more consistent streams of revenue, so that rather than losing money for 3 quarters, you make money for all 4. Track the rise of subscription-based MMOs, charging for DLC, in-game-ads and Xbox Live, it coincides nicely with Wall Street putting greater and greater pressure for game companies to deliver consistent results. As a result, more and more gamers become disillusioned with the medium, shrinking the customer pool more and more, causing the suits to demand even GREATER ways to wring hard-earned cash out of their customers. All because the fuckers on Wall Street (whose genius caused our current recession) are too stupid to realize that a business that makes enough money one quarter a year while pleasing its customers is better than one that makes money four quarters a year while pissing them off.

    Is it any coincidence that two of the most profitable and successful PC game developers are privately-held Valve, and famously-insulated-from-the-suits Blizzard? The assholes who control the money used to finance games are just as good at running game companies as they are at buying mortgages.

    People hail Steve Jobs as a genius -- but the only advantage Apple has is the same advantage that Valve has. They realize that the best business strategy is the one that's worked since the beginning of capitalism: Please your customers. There's no future in Wall Street's current infatuation with predatory capitalism.

Make it myself? But I'm a physical organic chemist!