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Cold Coffee: In-Game Advertising

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bill-swift - December 6, 2012

As much as we'd love to believe that video game developers make enough money with the stupid amount we're forced to pay for games, that's apparently not the case. On top of all their ridiculously priced collector's/limited/special editions, we also have the massive amount of overpriced DLC post launch that we're constantly reminded of.

The most depressing part of all this is that I'm not even talking about any of the things listed above. No, my friends…even with all that revenue coming in, we become attacked by the annoyance that is: in-game advertising. Selling space for advertising is nothing new or bizarre; just look at some of your favorite sites such as Egotastic.com. Yes, advertising makes the world go round but sometimes it needs to be carefully placed to avoid compromising the overall of the experience of your customers. Take a look at a lot of those popular iSO games such as Angry Birds. While they usually give you the fair option of paying a small fee (usually a dollar) to stop the advertising, some don't and those unwilling to pay the fee must deal with some ads that seem to be placed by monkeys.

Angry Birds has ads up the ass that usually appear instantly right where you're about to put your finger, making it so you have to click on it. It's a real dick move and I hate it. Punch Hero is another one of my favorite iSO titles. Virtual reality boxing has never felt so satisfying but most of the time the start menu will have a banner ad that completely blocks the ‘start' button. The touch screens on phones, while sophisticated, are still small and it suddenly becomes a game of ‘Operation' as you try to land your chubby finger perfectly on the smallest of X's in the top corner of the ad. If that finger misses, you're about to sit through an ad that has absolutely no value to you whatsoever.

Miraculously I've seen certain games place ads intelligently so that you notice it but aren't knocked back into reality by it. Dead Island and Saint's Row are both good examples of this, where billboards in the game hold advertisements for anything from the newest smart phone to a new perfume fragrance. Used in these ways, in-game ads aren't so bad.

There is one type of game where I can fully understand the need for ads, and that's the MMO genre. MMO's, unlike regular titles, take several years to make. Even after the initial boatload of cash that's spent making the game, the upkeep is a constant uphill battle. Attempting to fix all the issues that arise and keeping a smooth and enjoyable playing experience is a full-time job and that's not even counting the inevitable additions that have to be created from scratch post-launch to keep the game fresh. A lot of MMO's will charge monthly fees for gamers but even then, I'm usually pretty forgiving if I see an ad I could care less about.

I understand the need to sell space. Although developers make a shit ton from their creations, they have a lot of people to pay and a lot of money is required during the advertising and distributing process as well. Run all the ads you want, but keep them the hell away from my loading screens and don't have them pop up in the middle of my screen. So help me if I'm distracted mid-game by an ad…

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