Gearbox Game Ads

By Jim Rossignol on March 26th, 2008 at 11:21 am.


So it turns out that Gearbox, who are currently developing Brothers In Arms 3, Borderlands, and Aliens: Colonial Marines have licensed in-game advertising tech for use in “undisclosed titles”. The technology, supplied by Double Fusion, will apparently allow for “dynamic” adverts in the game. I suppose that could mean billboards onto which relevant ads can be posted, something like that.

The reasoning is that it can generate extra cash that Gearbox can use to buy Ferraris then put back into game development. It’s tricky for games that aren’t set in the real world though, isn’t it? None of the games Gearbox has in development would seem ideal for advertising, except perhaps Aliens. That said, I do feel like in-game advertising is a poorly explored possibility. Given how many people play certain games, couldn’t a future GTA game actually be free-to-play if it came with a city’s worth of advertising (perhaps with some radio and TV ads streamed off the net?) to pay for all the development cleverness? F4 Group have mentioned that they would like to make Empire Of Sports entirely ad-funded, and it makes sense to do so, given the context.

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22 Comments »

  1. Garreett says:

    What the hell. I’ll only play an ad-driven game if it’s free; and the ads aren’t intrusive. Looks like Gearbox are going down the road of fail to me.

  2. minus says:

    Does this mean the prices will be lower? Or is it just to milk extra cash?

    Furthermore, I think Billboard ads for Argos will look a bit out of place in a post apocalyptic landscape…

  3. Andrew Farrell says:

    I do actually like all the sarky in-game advertising in GTA though, so that’s possibly a bad example. Driver on the other hand…

  4. Darkcraft says:

    I am not a fan of in-game adverts. Companies pay for advertising space, and that cost is handed down to the consumer. You pay a little less for the game, you pay a little more for your bottle of Coke, and you have to sit through advertising.
    I know the economics aren’t quite as simple as that, but the money that creates these advertisments does not come from thin air.

  5. mrkstphnsn says:

    I was playing Crackdown on the 360 the other day and they were advertising the shitty Hitman Dvd, and I only noticed it as I was brooding on the top of a high building overlooking my domain, stroking my favourite gargoyle and I saw a big bald head I wanted to shoot.

    I then started seeing it everywhere.

    My only thought was supposed to be “I must buy that!” instead it made me think how desperate the developers must be which was sad.

  6. minus says:

    mrkstphnsn, I would have gone with ‘sHitman DVD’…

  7. Theory says:

    Quick-time events and in-game adverts? What’s going on?

  8. azwipe says:

    Darkcraft, the ads aren’t paid for by charging more for a bottle of coke, but by selling more bottles.

    anyhoo, the games with ads that have come out so far don’t seem to be any cheaper. it’s bullshit, and as always the intent isn’t to make better games, it’s to make more money. sometimes those two outcomes converge, in this case not so much. here they’re making more money by making the game just a little worse.

  9. Lunaran says:

    Who says they aren’t in the menus or loading screens? It doesn’t say anywhere that “in game” means in the game world. Stop jumping to the one conclusion that gets you most upset.

  10. Ali D says:

    Did anyone else see the adverts for Cloverfield on the bus stops in the first level in Vegas in Rainbow Six: Vagas? I was playing the game again and I only noticed them after about 10 minutes. Don’t think I updated the game at all, so is that what’s meant by “dynamic”? That the ads will change on the first of every month or something?

  11. Darkcraft says:

    azwipe, look at Pepsi and Coke. Both have a pretty stable market share year after year, yet both are spending very large sums of money on advertising. If one of them stopped spending that money, they would sell less bottles, so they are both advertising to maintain their current market position. Who do you think pays for this? The market is saturated, so there aren’t any more bottles to sell.

  12. Monkfish says:

    Gearbox Software licensing VP David Eddings said that the ads will bring authenticity to upcoming games.

    I really wish devs and publishers would stop citing “authenticity” as the motivation for commissioning in-game ads. Le sigh.

    Anyway, I’m just about tolerant of in-game ads as long as it’s passive and in context; a bit of product placement here or the occasional billboard there. This tolerance hits its limit the moment gameplay mechanics are artificially engineered specifically for the benefit of the advertiser rather than the gamer.

  13. Janto says:

    Ah, the Ghost in the Shell ads in Syndicate Wars…

  14. dhex says:

    actually, i must say that a GTA city populated with real-world ads would be very interesting.

    however, i get the feeling we’ll just see more of the alienware/dell style pointless insertion process a la fear and its expansions.

  15. KingMob says:

    Imagine if a few unobtrusive ads, or interstitials, could have helped Iron Lore stay afloat.

    These days developers really have to think about where their next dollar is coming from, and if they can leverage an ad deal, more power to them. Obviously if they do ads in a stupid way they’ll be punished for it.

  16. Chaz says:

    The advertising in R6 Vegas wasn’t too bad and actually fitted the game quite well. On the other hand in SWAT4 it was just terrible and really obtrusively in your face.

    I don’t see how they would be able to make real world ads fit in, in a game with a sci-fi or fantasy setting though.

  17. Nick says:

    I’ve yet to see any in game advertising despite owning several games with it in ¬_¬

  18. Sombrero says:

    @Darkcraft & azwipe

    actually either the add convincies you to buy the product and azwipe is right or some other poor sap pays for the game

    so basically it’s either from selling more product or someone else pays for your game which i’m fine with

  19. drbnwy says:

    Hasn’t product placement been happening in movies for years (e.g James Bond, Matrix etc)?

    Why should games be exempt?

    I’m not saying I like the idea, but lets face it, it’s all about the money at the end of the day…

    I think the ultimate advertising/product placement that all games and movies should aim for is the Coca Cola billboard scene in Blade Runner. It fitted perfectly.

    Actually, real world company-names in ‘realist’ games actually improves the suspension of disbelief, i suppose…

  20. Caiman says:

    There’s Adblock for Firefox. Next, Adblock for your favourite PC games!

  21. Nick says:

    Product placement is different (and fine usually.. depending how it’s used) than big banners randomly changing on walls for products that are completely out of place in the setting.

  22. Mario Granger says:

    There’s Adblock for Firefox. Next, Adblock for your favourite PC games!

    Find the IP range that the game is using for the ad servers, and block them in your security suite of choice, whether it be your firewall, or a IP blocker like PeerGuardian2.

    I’ve done it for a few games (SWAT 4 mainly), and it works like a charm.