APB To Feature Audio Ads

By John Walker on June 24th, 2010 at 8:17 pm.

They're waiting for the ad to end so they can make plans, yesterday.

APB has had another moment of controversy before release with the news that the game is to feature unavoidable audio advertising, via the Vivox voice chat. These adverts will appear when players enter zones, rather than randomly butting in, but the news has still created something of a fuss on various forums. Players are upset because as well as hearing the ads they will have also paid for the game, and subscribed for game time.

The exact details of this are explained by APB Community Officer ‘Toxico’ on the APB forum. It’s a tad confusing:

“You will receive a short audio ad once every 3 hours. HOWEVER ads will only be heard when first entering a district.

So for example:

1) You start up the game and enter the social district.
2) You will hear a short audio ad.
3 You stay in social for 2 hours and then switch to an action district.
4) Upon entering the action district you will NOT hear an ad.
5) You play in the action district for 5 hours and do not hear any ads.
6) You exit the game.
7) You start up the game at a later time and enter a district.
8) You will hear a short audio ad.”

It seems the gist is: you’ll only hear an ad when you go into a new zone, and that’s only once every three hours.

In-game advertising has been tried by a number of games a number of times. It’s yet to prove too effective. But the issue here comes on top of the previous concern over the payment system for the game. Rather than a monthly subscription on top of the £35 box price, players will need to buy access to the game’s Action Zone. Time in the Social Zone will be free, and it will be possible to buy unlimited 30 day passes to the rest of the game.

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178 Comments »

  1. Jesus says:

    I’ve got 99 problems but in-game audio advertising ain’t one

  2. Tim says:

    Any prior interest I had in this game has been smashed by poor PR. Well done.

    • Lobotomist says:

      Box purchase + subscription + item shop + audio ads

      Talking about trying to milk max profit from a game.

      Good going EA.

      To bad the game you chose to try this model does not worth bargain bin price.

    • Interesting says:

      There is no item shop, they don’t sell anything in game.

      So they have advertising in a game you buy, lots of games do. Why is this singled out? The ongoing fees pay for servers. Don’t want to pay, go back to peer to peer games with no customization and no proper clan support. Problem solved.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Apologists are funny. Peer to Peer games? What, we all play Modern Warfare?

      I’d like to think we’re a bit smarter than that.

    • Stromko says:

      Interesting: Have you not played it? There’s a market that uses credits that you buy with cash. Yeah, there’s an in-game earned market too, but if you want to buy customized content from other players you have to buy their RTW-dollars with real cash.

      So the fact is, this is a game where you buy a full-priced box, you pay a typical subscription fee either monthly or when you run out of game-time, you see and hear advertisements, and if you want to use custom content from other players you need to pony up real cash on top of everything else.

    • battles_atlas says:

      Yes the mistake made here is to take Modern Warfare’s model of mercilessly wringing every last dollar from the product, regardless of customer opinion. That model only works if people actually want to play the game in the first place.

    • Interesting says:

      @Stromko

      Have I played the game?? Have you? You do not need to pay real cash to buy items, at least try to appear knowledgable about the game before posting all this BS.

      EVERYTHING in the game can be bought/sold with the in-game cash. If players WANT to try and sell their items/customizations for points they can.

      It’s a cool feature, don’t try and mock what you don’t understand.

    • Joe Martin says:

      Adverts are a ‘feature’ now?

    • Marco W. says:

      Second Life works well with the real cash vs. ingame real cash customising market economy. So, where is the point about whining ?

      btw. EA is only the publisher, nothing more.

  3. FortifiedToaster says:

    This strikes me as a bit of a dick move to announce now – after the beta and early access demo suckered thousands of people into pre-orders…. “Oh and btw, there’s free ads with your subscription!”

    They don’t sound that intrusive and won’t stop me playing, it just seems a bit insidious the way this has been done. RTW could have been upfront about this “feature” weeks / months / years ago, and so have gone down in my estimation.

    • talon03 says:

      Nah it didn’t – anyone who’s played the beta knows the game’s rubbish anyway :-P
      Hideously unbalanced, ridiculous driving controls, bad aiming…. the list goes on.

  4. Brumisator says:

    I’d actually prefer them to be played on random times, on car radios, instead of headbutting you when you join.

    Then again, the beta was boring so I’m not going to play this game anyway…

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      I think it’d be kind of cool if they some how mixed it in to the real world, hearing a coca-cola ad on your car radio would be sweet, as long as it didn’t get as repetitive as the dreadful spotify ones.

  5. cliffski says:

    I think this is a bad idea and I would hate it, BUT I feel duty bound to point out that:

    People pay for a sky or cable subscription, yet there are still ads…
    People buy a magazine, yet it still has ads…
    People pay to rent a DVD, and it still has ads…
    People buy movie tickets, and there are ads…
    I’ve seen ads on the back of a bus ticket before…

    We might occasionally complain about all those, but they still happen, because collectively, people arent *that* bothered about it.

    • Garg says:

      Your examples are all true, but the problem APB has is the precedent set by it’s competition. You don’t get audio adverts in WoW, yet the price per month and boxed product price are comparable. And you could make an arguememt that APB doesn’t even have the costs of large persistent servers, as with EVE and WoW etc do (at least that’s my understanding, the servers are something like a few hundred people aren’t they?).

    • Tei says:

      *cough*moviestreamingontheinternets*cough*

    • Nalano says:

      WoW is 50% more expensive than APB. WoW also has the benefit of an established market.

    • Arthur Barnhouse says:

      “(at least that’s my understanding, the servers are something like a few hundred people aren’t they?).”

      There are several instances on each server, I believe at least a dozen, and each instance can have up to 100 people. So, as happened to me once on the beta, you can be in financial-district-ENG-5 and you’re friend can be in financial-dictrict-ENG-7. You’re both on the same server but you’ll never run into each other because you’re in a different instance of that district. I’m not sure that it requires more or less effort on there part to maintain these servers, however.

    • Tei says:

      I think if you team, theres a option to jump to the instance of other player. Theres also something like “instance queues”, but I have never see these working, I suppose you and your friend can join a instance with 2 slots free. I predict will be easy. Most instances seems to have about 80% ocuppation.

    • Nalano says:

      Loading textures for 100 extremely-customized people and their cars would make loading difficult for clients – probably the reason they have “shards” a la DDO or AoC.

    • Tei says:

      Re: “extremely-customized players”

      The way It work, I think, is creating a single texture for the player. I think QuakeWorld used something like this for all the players. Lets call it “playermdl.gif”. So, I suppose, these textures are dinamically loaded and unloaded from the VRAM. It suppose stress the system a bit, but I have rarelly see big concentrations of players. The kttc versions seems to have some memory leaks, and In a way, feel to me that architecture is more a stress to the game than characters skins. I am playing as a player, I don’t know about this things.. but..he!.

      Also, customized players is nothing new to mmorpg games. So I suppose the technology for it has ben hammered to dead with different tecniques. So there must exist a buffet of tecniques to use.

      If anything, I think the technology behind the streaming of architecture,textures and models of the game is poor. So the limits don’t seems to be on the problem or the hardware, but on the code, or the framework.

      Also…

      /hugs APB.

      I love the game.

    • Garg says:

      @Nalano: They both cost about £8 per month, no? And while WoW may have an established market, its not like APB doesn’t. Its reason to exist is that its multiplayer GTA. My main point though was that they seem to be blind to their competition, and that they’re doing something that will hurt their competitiveness in a crowded field.

    • Nalano says:

      WoW is $15/mo. APB is $10/mo.

      GTA players aren’t an established APB market. WoW players are WoW’s market – and the failure of many WoW-clones should tell you how little that translates.

    • HeruFeanor says:

      @Tei:
      Lots of games have heavy customization. However, to the best of my knowledge, APB is the first MMO that let’s you basically custom-build your own textures from scratch.

      Take Champions Online, which probably has the most extensive character customization of any MMO prior to APB (and it’s questionable if APB has taken that crown). Customization in Champs is all about selection which 3D model to use on a given region, giving it a set of colors, and selecting from a set of pre-made textures for it. This gives you a lot of power, but it doesn’t put significant stress on the network: Every model and texture already exists on the client machine. In order to display a character, you just need to know which models, textures and colors they selected for each region.

      In APB, you don’t have those textures. This is new to MMOs. Before you can display a given character, you have to download a separate texture for their skin, and for every article of clothing they’re wearing. These textures are so heavily customized, they CAN’T just live on the client, the way textures in Champions do. APB allows you to customize every item you wear to an unprecedented extent, but this comes at a price.

      The reason I say it’s questionable if APB has unseated Champions for most extensive customization, BTW, is because while APB lets you customize each item to a much greater extent, it has a low fewer items. Where Champions has probably thousands of different costume pieces to choose from, APB has probably only a few hundred. There were a lot of things I wanted that just weren’t there.

    • Tei says:

      “Lots of games have heavy customization. However, to the best of my knowledge, APB is the first MMO that let’s you basically custom-build your own textures from scratch.”

      Nono.. I linked to QuakeWorld, were you can also create your own texture. Seems.

    • Web Cole says:

      You could say its analogous to you watching a movie and at certain points having X character pick up a drink and say “Man I love sprite!” It just… shouldn’t be there?

    • Jake says:

      In APB you can create a sprite with 100 layers, and then place this onto an area – say a sleeve – with up to 100 other layers. So in theory you could use thousands of layers on your character. I wonder, is this going to slow the game down? Surely the potential for each player you encounter to have thousands of unique textures is pretty high – is this not demanding?

    • Duoae says:

      Those things may all happen Cliffski… doesn’t mean they should though. Especially not those stupid unskippable DVD ads/”Warnings”.

    • Stromko says:

      Jake: I’m pretty sure that it bakes all the layers into a single non-layered image as you leave the editor, so it works much as Tei described.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Garg

      Does either WoW or Eve come with an inbuilt ingame locational VOIP system?

    • Kadayi says:

      @TeeJay

      You also pay a licence fee for the BBC to fund it, and keep it advert free.

  6. Clovis says:

    So, you hear an ad every time you start the game, no? Or do you not get an ad when you start if you don’t switch locations?

    Ah, who care, this is just terrible either way; this game is getting depressing.

    Can’t someone just make a WoW clone where I get to shoot things FPS style instead of type 1,2,3 repeatedly?? Why can’t there be some PVE in this game?

  7. Nalano says:

    To be fair, there were already SuicideGirls ads in the KttC event, so it’s not as if they weren’t already advertising to the players.

    The way I see it, $10/mo is a $5 discount from the usual MMO fee. We’ll see whether the ads are worth it.

    • Arthur Barnhouse says:

      I’m surprised people are offended, to be honest. This isn’t super intrusive, and they would really only occur when you log into another district which you don’t do a whole lot. On the Xbox, the 1 vs 100 game they have has an impressive amount of advertising for sprint and soda. I have to admit I’m not excited about having every moment of my life monetized, but Realworlds probably has a lot of money to recoup before this game is solvent.

    • Nalano says:

      I don’t like ads. I don’t. I hate ‘em. I work part-time as IT for a marketing company and to me marketing is just telling advertisers how to lie.

      But I’m working part-time as IT for a marketing company because I was laid off from my unionized, benefited and pensioned job. People tend to forget we’re in a deep recession, the likes of which we’re not getting out of anytime soon, and that one of the side effects of such depressed economic times is the difficulty in securing business loans.

      Which means that all ventures tend to have to pay back whatever they’re able to get a lot quicker than before. So it should come to no surprise that businesses are attempting to monetize everything and are actively searching for alternative sources of income.

      I don’t like it. I don’t have to like it. And I know a lot of companies are just using this as an excuse to solidify their stranglehold on the industry overall. (Indeed, I’m not what you’d call a capitalist.) But I can see where they’re coming from. I’m wondering if others do too.

    • Arthur Barnhouse says:

      I get to a certain extent what you’re saying about advertising, but I’m not sure it’s practical just to say across the board advertising represents the worst evil. People need to be notified in some way about products, and people have become so inundated with advertising that we can largely tune them out the worst aspects of them. The question I always ask is “are these ads too intrusive?” I’m just not sure that these are.

    • Nalano says:

      Notifying the public about a product is not the same as an advertisement.

      Advertisements don’t notify. They persuade. They don’t inform. They allure.

      They are lies.

    • Arthur Barnhouse says:

      They are of course there to inform and persuade. I’m not sure they’re lies so much as putting your product in the most positive light available. Why wouldn’t you?

    • Nalano says:

      No. Not inform. Misinform. Never was it their point to inform.

    • Arthur Barnhouse says:

      Nalano at this point you appear to just be intentionally argumentative. Some advertising is bad, dangerous, or in some way deceitful, some of it is perfectly fine. A broad brush statement of “All advertising is evil lies and we should rise up against our masters humming the internationale” doesn’t take into account the variance on ads or on products, nor does it take into account the reality that we have advertising now, and have had it for quite a while and it isn’t going away. More than that, people by a certain age have already gained the mental ability to filter out the majority of advertising, as well as the more questionable claims in them. I don’t think by chewing Wrigley’s gum will suddenly mean I’m riding a horse with an attractive woman, nor do I think the add somehow damaged me. The only real question with ads is how intrusive they are into regular life. You seem to be suggesting that all ads are an inherent intrusion, which isn’t helpful nor is it consistent with reality as I have seen it.

    • Nalano says:

      I only live in the advertising capital of the Americas, if not the world. I only work in the industry.

      This past week, I took a taxi home to carry a bunch of very fine computer equipment after my current machine melted in the heat. I know that, on top of the ads on the taxi itself, when they put in the credit card machines they added a tiny little TV in the passenger compartment that screams commercials at you and little vignettes from ABC.

      The mute on the machine doesn’t work until it gives its little ditty, which is eight or nine seconds after the meter is turned on. Competing companies retrofit the cabs, tho, so half the little passenger compartment TVs un-mute themselves automatically after six to eight minutes of silence, so you have to mute them again.

      The cabbie must suffer commercials every time he has a fare, and he gets absolutely no money from it. Nor does his dispatcher, if he’s leasing the cab. The Taxi and Limousine Commission does. I muted the machine. The cabbie thanked me, and explained to me how, with paper records, he has to smile to customers because they can complain to the Commission for not being nice enough and he’s docked what they paid with their card.

      Advertising, on the whole, is insidious. The cabbie has to advertise himself. The Commission feels it can advertise to captive audiences. It’s bullshit. I’m not over-reacting: I’m part of the problem, but I have to make rent.

    • chad says:

      On the topic of advertisement, I agree with Nalano. Advertisement companies are in no way subject to the social pressures we as humans feel urging us to be fair, honest, and straightforward. They are required by the dictates of their existence to force as much of their pitch down your throat, up to the point that you get out of a moving cab. “Misinform” is the perfect term: I recently read a shampoo bottle that informed me that it would make my hair 75% smoother– only on the back did it say that the “75% smoother” was comparing this shampoo and its matching conditioner to a competing shampoo by itself.

      If a human made this kind of statement to you (e.g. “apples are way tastier than rocks”) you would reject it as moronic and unfair.

      Barnhouse, you are making some straw man stuff up: Nalano never called ads “evil”– and he’s right not to: they aren’t evil, or good– they simply obey a set of pressures alien to normal human life.

      On a side note: I played the CttK and thought the game mechanics quite satisfying. I was rewarded with success almost every time I engaged in basic strategy (take the high ground, circle around the back, wait til they’re reloading) and I once pulled off an extremely realistic PIT maneuver.

    • Foxfoxfox says:

      I’ve worked in close proximity to PR and Advertisers and it is entirely true that the process generally involves working out quite how much you can oversell your product before it becomes illegal.

      I’m not going to argue that we should try to run a market without promoting goods, and I am aware that the process of advertising is not inherently evil – but in generally speaking modern advertising is as devious and insiduous as it is legally allowed to be.

      Honestly I have heard things uttered in marketing strategy meetings that would have most anybody spitting out their coffee in disbelief. I wanted to write ‘that would make you cry’ but perhaps not everyone shares my precious sensibilities!

    • Thants says:

      Watch some ads and think about how many are actually trying to inform you of a new product versus just trying to get to buy their almost-exactly-the-same brand of thing over the competitors. There aren’t a million ads for Coke everywhere because people haven’t heard of this thing called “cola”.

    • Arthur Barnhouse says:

      Has everyone lost their perspective? Advertising is about showing your product in the most positive light. I appreciate that you personally have had interactions with people who are devious. My sister is a member of a marketing team, and she seems to have no stories of how they step up to the line of illegally without crossing. More importantly, your one example is not of advertising being untrue or meschvious but of it being overly intrusive, which is the one criterum I identified as most concerning. Advertising is not inherently evil. Some advertisers are bad, but that is not the same thing.

    • Jockie says:

      If I hear an advert informing me about hair smoother or chemical xyz with it’s new treatment formula etc, I zone out instantly, rather than spouting to the hills that evil marketing men are out to steal my money.

      A game trailer is essentially an advert, so if you’re predisposed on hating advertisement, I’d avoid RPS, because no only do a significant proportion of posts contain trailers, but *gasp* there are adverts on the borders of the website, impeding our vision, forcing us to buy car insurance with their delicious lies.

      In fact a vast majority of websites are supported by advertising as well as nearly every other form of media. Some serious hysteria going on here.

      In perspective, APB can probably get away with adverts in a way that WoW etc can’t because adverts make sense in the context of the game, it could be coming from a nearby radio, or car stereo.

      Article headline should have been “Game developer in wanting to make money through their game shocker!”

    • alseT says:

      @Nalano’s cab story

      Oh wow wow wow I’m so glad right now I don’t live in a “civilised” country. That sounds absolutely insane.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Jockie

      Actually dude I think it’s more about keeping the player costs down. The VOIP system is effectively free of charge with the ad inclusion from Virox (but costs with it excluded, because Virox need to make their money). RTW could of rolled the offset into a higher subscription model and no one would be any the wiser, but instead they opted to keep the charge lower and allow you as the player to decide whether to pay for the ad removal or not. Personally. One 10 second advert (potentially) every 3 hours when loading into a district, doesn’t seem that painful tbh.

    • TeeJay says:

      @ Arthur Barnhouse: “…people have become so inundated with advertising…”

      I don’t feel inundated. I watch the BBC, read RPS and have adblocker and NoScript. The part of the country I live in (Surrey) isn’t covered in billboards and neon signs.

      Often my reaction to adverts is to switch them off and generally avoid them. On the other hand I am exposed to people talking about various products when I go looking for it and I’d argue that it is far better to build up a positive reputation and image for your business/product/brand via this kind of subtle and customer-focussed behaviour, not shouting at them. Good word-of-mouth, good customer service and being engaged with and aware of your market is worth a vast amount of crappy advertising.

  8. terry says:

    Your loading times must be monetized!

  9. Tei says:

    Supposedly the sound system of APB is very good. The.. lets call it “positional” function of the audio work perfectly. People talk in voip integrated on the game, and it sounds like is the character that say things. The cars have music, and often is usefull to get in the right car (the one of your team).

    I say supposedly, because I don’t understand english voices, french or german. And I don’t like music. I think music break inmersion.

    What I think about this system is that is stupid. A better solution could have been to add these ads to the music you get in-game, to create some fictional radios with no-fictional ads, like the no-fictional real radios. Is something that would have worked and not-breaked inmersion. Is a detail that could have enhanced the game. hell.. is like these games that have billboards with real products. If you have a game set in the modern world, you can have that, and fit the game.

    • Stijn says:

      Yeah, an obvious place for audio ads would be the in-car radio. But I can’t be too annoyed by this either. A few seconds per 3 hours, only at the start of a game, that doesn’t seem a very big deal to me.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      The best thing about the always-on voip is when enemies don’t know this and talk about what they are doing while you are sitting around the corner listening to every word.

      That sentence might need a comma somewhere. I don’t know.

  10. pilouuuu says:

    I don’t mind ads in the game’s billboards, but audio ads is simply too intrusive and completely destroys the immersion in the game. At least they could do it better by making it like ads in radio stations (kind of like in GTA, but being real ads).

  11. monkeybreadman says:

    This game has the stench of fail

  12. Taillefer says:

    How creative have they been with the ads?
    If they’re having some fun with it, even referring to the game as though their advertising to the characters of that World, then l I think it’s much more acceptable. Anti-perspiration ads referring to those run and gun moments, and such.

    If it’s just “Hello. Buy our product.” End. Then, meh.
    Ultimately, though, as Cliffski says, people aren’t going to be that bothered by it despite a fuss.

  13. GetOutOfHereStalker says:

    if they’re going to advertise to me they better also let me play for free

  14. Lucas Says says:

    So, I’d be paying full price up front, plus a “monthly fee”, plus advertisement?

    Sounds like they don’t think they’re going to get a lot of customers. Sounds like they have no confidence in their game.

    • Nalano says:

      Kinda like Cable TV, no?

    • Stromko says:

      This isn’t TV, it’s an MMOG. Most MMOGs, and even TV itself via Hulu and other sites, are moving to a free-to-play model, and even high-quality MMOGs like Allods and Lord of the Rings Online are doing the same. With its RTW-dollar market (which itself feeds on player-generated content), and heavily instanced play, APB would be a prime candidate. Yet, they chose to to use every method available to get money from players.

      Personally, I got a bit of a kick out of the game, and I’m tempted to play it again, but I don’t like being treated like a fool. I’ll wait until the buy-in is 15$, not 50$. Its a dated FPS system tied to some interesting game mechanics (dynamic albeit unvaried mission system), a cool customization system, and a poorly balanced progression system. On the whole, it simply isn’t worth full price.

      Unless this thing really takes off, it’s either going cheap or shutting down within six months of release. RTW is going against the inertia of its contemporaries and asking too much money from cash-strapped customers all at once.

  15. Jeremy says:

    If it’s a good game, no one will really care about the ads is my guess. Unless they just have one of those “points” to make.

  16. Kadayi says:

    John

    Link is to the NA forum, rather than the EU one. I’m not sure whether this is just particular to NA game tbh (EU forums are down for maintenance at the time of writing).

  17. Mr_Bacco says:

    Realtime Worlds are really hurting their reputation with APB. A pity too, they did some good things with Crackdown.

    • Interesting says:

      Like advertise in the game, yes, Crackdown had ads in it like many paid games.

    • Stromko says:

      I’d have to say these ads are actually one of the least alienating things that RTW is doing with APB. Loading has to take time, if they want to play an audio ad in the meantime who cares? Its more their greedy hands grasping for my wallet in so many varied ways that turns me off.

  18. Bascule42 says:

    APB? Heard about that a while ago…XCOM! Good/Bad? I see a cheese sandwichon the horizon w/Tom sauce.

  19. Freud says:

    Will the ads be different for different countries. If not, it will be very annoying for most. If so, it will be quite immersion breaking for non-english speakers.

    I don’t know what they are getting paid for this but it seems to be they are letting cheapness betray wisdom.

  20. Mad Doc MacRae says:

    These guys are really going out of their way to attract… attention.

    Next up, APB developers say, “Hitler not that bad, DRM is pretty cool.”

  21. Heliocentric says:

    Ha ha ha ha.

    See you when you go free to play.

    • Bruce Rambo says:

      Yeah, I’m not getting people defending the game by saying it’s an MMO and is thus deserving of a full monthly fee, PLUS AAA+ box prices AND advertising.

      Ignoring chaos districts (because I’ve never seen them tested yet and suspect they’re laggy as fuck anyway; the huge respawn distances and short life spans will not help either), you essentially spend most of your time driving around a nice matchmaking program.

      When you do get a matchup, it’s normally 5 minutes of either completely blowing away the opposition or being completely blown away depending on three factors:
      1/ your weapon choice vs whatever region the game decides to put you in – smgs are no good in wide open areas! and your mission is timed, so you don’t get much chance to swap to something more appropriate.
      2/ your overall equipment layout (all those 10% bonuses DO stack, and especially with lag and wonky hitboxes it’s actually pretty hard to beat someone with higher tier equipment than you – compounded by the fact that it’s POSSIBLE for them to actually have a lower “threat” [=mission success] rating than you and therefore be able to call backup when you can’t)
      3/ Aimbots/13-year old sugar junkies/TnB/CarteBlanche 17 hour a day crowd. Oh, and people who camp choke points that have only one access route.

      Of course, you do occasionally get an awesome round which spirals into an 8v8 with a good team of colourful, skilled, individuals that almost make all the grief worth it. The customisation is generally quite good too (if a little odd in places; putting a necklace over a patterned shirt removes the pattern under it?!).

  22. CLD says:

    I don’t mind, but unless you’re from US or UK, most of those ads are going to be irrelevant.

  23. SamuraiPie says:

    I don’t know why so many people here and on the APB forums are using a defence along the lines of “Oh well cable TV makes you pay and still shows ads” or “they aren’t exactly intrusive”.

    The point is this has been announced mere days before release, and it wasn’t part of the beta or the early access demo. That’s what people are pissed about – they have pre-ordered and then found out their game will contain adverts, contrary to both the demonstrations and information the developers / publishers have released up to now.

    Personally, I can empathise with that. I’d be annoyed too – why didn’t RTW / EA tell people about this before? Why wasn’t it in the betas? It just comes across as really sneaky and underhanded to announce so close to release after so many people have already paid up their money in good faith.

    Now you’re going to have people’s friends cancelling pre-orders and others disabling built in VoIP service – all of that degrades gameplay even for the players who don’t care about the direct impact of these ads… It’s a very odd move to launch such a big game.

  24. JKjoker says:

    i love it when everyone thinks they have the next wow on their hands and then they make sure to alienate all their potential customers with bizarre pricing models and stupid ideas before they even get a chance to try the game, thumbs up guys, after you fail try to hook ppl into the Skinner box before inserting uncomfortable thingies up ppl’s characters

    • Interesting says:

      So, they gave 10 hours to try the game for free, then if you do buy the game, after 50 hours you can then decide if you want to pay for more. At what point does your post make sense? Plenty of opportunity to decide…

    • JKjoker says:

      i have limited time to play games, ads means that part of that time will be wasted and that i will be probably be annoyed, now i could live with that if the game was free or if it was just to pay for the mp servers but its not, so ill use my limited time to try other games and find one that wont waste my time, plenty of competition out there particularly in the mmo department

  25. DMJ says:

    Realtime Worlds is on a mission to make the world’s largest money hat.

  26. Thants says:

    Right, that’s it. I’m not playing any game that has ads in it. I get more then enough advertising as it is.

  27. The Pink Ninja says:

    Unrelated topic:

    Can we get an RPS Decal in this game for tattoos/clothes/cars?

  28. DestinedCruz says:

    I have enough issues with the pricing of this game due to the severe lack of actual content. However, I was recently discussing with friends how they could easily either cut the pricing down to a fraction of what it is or eliminate it entirely if they just did a good job of in-game advertising. We were walking around the social district looking at the giant obnoxious signs for people’s guilds in the game, talking about how those could just be swapped out with visual signs and ads promoting random shit. It makes complete sense in a real-world setting, and they could easily have ads and product placement everywhere and make it look completely natural.

  29. Vadermath says:

    Is there any reason to even consider playing the game at this point?

  30. Diminish3d says:

    Subs + Advertising revenue suggests to me that the Devs are going to farm APB for cash as fast and hard as they can. Cynical, I know, but then SOE have been ripping me off with PlanetSide for many years now.
    Its a pity, I liked APB up until I actually tried to play it. True, I have a crappy gfx card installed atm, (waiting for a replacement for my gaming card), but after a few hours of play in the beta, it suddenly began to feel a lot smaller than the game I’d imagined.

  31. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Warranted or not.. there’s plenty of online games who do not have ads. Games like Guild Wars (which doesn’t even have a subscription model), for example.

  32. ExplosiveCoot says:

    This would make a lot more sense if the ads were an optional way of earning playtime instead of something forced on users who are already subscribing to the service.

    Going to give this one a miss.

  33. Wooly says:

    No news on the ridiculo-sale on steam?

  34. edosan says:

    I’m starting to think this game is the real-life version of Mel Brooks’ “The Producers.” Is it possible they’re trying to fail on purpose so they don’t have to tell anyone they sold shares equal to 200% of worth in the company?

  35. DW40 says:

    If they are playing the ads while I’m loading, loading…..loading…..I’m not worried about it. But considering it is an urban environment, and they have gone to the trouble to make fake businesses, I’m surprised they don’t just make them real world branded stores, etc. It would actually make the game more realistic, not less.
    That said, if making the gunplay TF2 worthwhile meant the game would stop before each instance started, the screen would go white, and an ad would play at twice normal volume…that would make the game more attractive to me. I’m neither an MMO guy or a GTA fan, but really want to like this game, but after 6 hours or so of play, 30 seconds of ads seem like this game’s smallest problem.

  36. Tyshalle says:

    This game sucks balls anyway. Who cares about these stupid ads?

  37. Mac says:

    To be fair, the adds sound more fun than the actual game ….

  38. drewski says:

    I think anyone who’s genuinely claiming to be making a purchasing decision based on whether there is ads is being a tad disingenuous.

    I can’t see how it’s especially relevant. The timing is bad, yes, but there’s still time to cancel pre-orders and such, no? It could have been a lot worse – nothing until people are playing the game and then “oh yeah, there are ads…”

    • Thants says:

      The idea that people are incapable of making a purchasing decision based on principle is the reason that companies think they can get away with this kind of crap. I’m perfectly happy not to play a certain game if it helps keep video-games as one of the few things not stuffed with advertising.

    • Tyshalle says:

      Advertising is what moves the world.

      Seriously.

    • drewski says:

      That would be fine, if I believed that the reason most of the people claiming not to be buying it was that principle. Which I don’t.

      And I suspect the vast majority of people have already purchased games with in-built advertising, it’s just rarely well publicised as in this case.

    • vagabond says:

      I don’t have a cable TV subscription for that reason.

      You’re right to believe in this instance that no one dislikes advertising enough for it to be the reason that they will pass on APB though. The fact that everyone* that participated in the beta/KttC is reporting that game is awful seems reason enough.

      * apologies to the 3 or 4 people countering reasoned criticism with “it’s good, no really” but you just come off desperate and sounding like you work for the developer or something.
      Also “you can’t appreciate it fully until it is filled to the brim with random yahoos off the internet who will have the same level of visual customisation of their character as they do over their myspace page” is not an argument that the game will be better on release…

    • Mac says:

      I didn’t buy Battlefield 2142 becasue of the ad system they were deploying – I don’t regret that decision, as BF2 gave me enough to play in any case.

  39. Shnyker says:

    Huh, trying to get money out of a generally unplayable game. Seems a tad silly.

  40. Cooper says:

    In response to Clifski & some other remarks.

    We’ve had ads in games for years. Those little Intel or Nvidia or whatever flicks that show up every bloody time a game starts.

    But that’s palatable, the same way trailers before movies at the cinema are palatable. They interfere none at all with the experience and are tacked on -right- at the start (TV advertising is another matter)

    But having ads part way through a game, even during a loading sequence is one bugger of an immersion breaker. “Loading city” and then a reminder that “Oh, by the way, you still live in a commodity obsessed hyper mediated late modern capitalist society, have a nice day!”

    • HeruFeanor says:

      Keep in mind the game is set in a modern, urban environment. I.E. it’s set IN your “commodity obsessed hyper mediated late modern capitalist society”. Throwing around reminders of that society, therefore, are hardly immersion breaking.

    • Longrat says:

      Meta Overflow!

  41. Longrat says:

    Game’s bad, payment model is worse, ads are stupid.

    Any hopes for this game were pretty shattered after playing the beta, and then hearing that the payment model is just stingy bullshit just completely turned me off. The ads wouldn’t have mattered to me so long as the game itself were worth the money, but at this point I don’t see myself dishing out the money for even the box purchase, let alone paying subscription or lolhourlyfees.

    Seriously, terrible planning on EA’s part.

    • HeruFeanor says:

      Uh, the payment model is just a cheaper version of what every other MMO does, with some extra options.

      WoW costs $15/mo, as does nearly every other major MMO. It’s what you’d pay for City of Heroes, or Aion, or Warhammer, or Conan, or Champions, or Star Trek Online, or any of a number of others. APB costs $10/mo. This is the option for hardcore players, and there is no reason to ever pay more than that for access to the game, and it’s still $5 cheaper a month than the competition.

      On top of that, they give the OPTION to pay by the hour instead of by the month. If you play less than about 30 hours a month, this will be cheaper than the monthly option. If you play more than 30 hours a month, than the monthly option is a better value.

      As an additional option, you can sell your in-game creations for RTW points that can be used to buy game time. If you’re good enough at this option, you may never have to pay for your game time at all: It will effectively be subsidized by those who want the music or customized items you make.

      I fail to see how this is stingy, unless you just consider ALL continuing payment for online gaming to be stingy. In which case I say you have a poor understanding of the resources required to maintain an MMO server farm.

    • Longrat says:

      In all fairness I just didn’t like what I saw and I think that the rather minimal persistence in this game (just gear from what I saw) doesn’t warrant a monthly payment. Especially considering the original announcements were NO MONTHLY PAYMENTS.

      I’m not comparing this game to WoW, it’s not WoW and even at its very best can’t even begin to offer the amount of content WoW will offer because frankly it lacks the potential. I’m comparing it to Guild Wars cause that’s what it is, and that’s how much I should pay for it.

    • Longrat says:

      Not to mention it’s a bad game so I wouldn’t even pay a guild wars price for it

    • HeruFeanor says:

      What they said is that monthly fees would not be required, and that’s true. They aren’t. Monthly fees are just one option.

      It’s true that it’s a VERY different game than WoW, but it’s also one that likely takes significantly more resources to run. The reason Guild Wars has no subscriptions, and WoW does, is not because Guild Wars is a lesser game, but because it uses a different network model, which requires a lot fewer resources to maintain. That network model means NCSoft can afford to run Guild Wars based on box sales and microstransactions alone. However, Blizzard definitely could NOT afford to run WoW on box sales and microtransactions alone.

      And there is no way in Hell that RTW could afford to run APB on box sales and microtransactions. It’s a technological miracle that they’re got environments that big, populated with 100 people, advanced physics, and are responsive enough to feel like a proper FPS. It’s frightening to think of the kind of server power and bandwidth they must have to devote to that, and I’m honestly amazed that they believe they can afford to run that while charging LESS per month than WoW does.

      My big worry is that, if the game isn’t a huge smash success, they’ll go bankrupt and have to yank the servers in 6 months, because they’re so expensive to run.

      As to the quality of the game … I guess that’s highly subjective. I had a blast during the nearly 10 hours I got during the KttC event, and I’m itching to get back into it when the head start begins.

    • Longrat says:

      You know, when you hear that sort of sentence, you expect it to be taken as is, rather than “hmmm maybe they mean there won’t be monthly payments but rather tri weekly payments!”. Again, that’s just me, and I go with valve’s system of keeping everything hidden until it’s all out in the open. When you play around with your customers it just ends up alienating them.

      I guess the game experience is mine, but I’ve talked to plenty of people who’ve had the same problems as me.

  42. HeruFeanor says:

    This is sad mostly for the wasted opportunity.

    Ads that are properly integrated into the game can actually be a positive addition to the game. It’s set in an urban environment. Some amount of advertising is expected. It’s such a key part of urban environments, that most video games such settings fill those environments with fake ads. Replacing the fake ads with real ads is a no brainer. It nets the devs some extra money, without hampering, and possibly enhancing, the game’s immersion.

    They’re already doing this right with visual ads. The Suicide Girls ads that were up in the KttC event meshed with the environment just fine. They fit. Having the ads there didn’t feel intrusive, because they felt like a natural part of the environment.

    There’s no reason I can think of not to do the same thing with audio ads. They already have car radios in the game, which play music. Why not have it intersperse an audio ad into it every few songs? Why not place boomboxes in a few of the hideouts or safe houses, also playing music interspersed with the occasional ad? This would fit the environment, and it would, in a way, actually enhance immersion.

    This approach, though, is just missing a major opportunity… It’s not enough to make me not play. The KttC event was incredibly fun, and I’m still very much looking forward to APB. But it makes me sad that they couldn’t do this right.

    • drewski says:

      I guess there’s no way of guaranteeing people will actually listen to the ads on the in game radio, though. To get your advertising monies you need the captive audience – it’s much harder to guarantee that player will hear the ad if you can not drive cars, or get out halfway through an ad etc.

      The scale of the audience means it’s probably just a far simpler solution to have the ads in a guaranteed place for a guaranteed audience.

  43. AlexW says:

    The amount of whining in here is ridiculous, and I suspect half the people complaining haven’t actually tried playing the game. It takes half a minute to a minute to actually load into the server, during which time the default audio can get rather grating, so what’s the big deal with putting another layer in there? It’s not like it’s going to be blocking you from playing.

  44. Interesting says:

    Dedicated servers, maps that hold 100 players + a ton of AI & physics, you think that’s cheap to do?

    And people complain about a few seconds add every 3+ hours. At least they are trying something new on PC and trying to offer flexible payments for the service. Get real people, or be stuck with 32 player peer to peer deathmatch for years to come….

    • Longrat says:

      Seems like for every bad marketing choice there’s always PC zealots who defend it no matter how stupid it is. The beta was just plain bad. loading times are ridiculous, the gameplay is stiff and uninteresting, and the whole marketing of this game was lacking and conveniently forgot to mention all these negative things in the payment model. You don’t just forget to mention you have ads in the game a few days before release. That’s a pretty obvious sign for “oh people won’t like this but we’ll do it anyway”.

      As someone in this thread said “See you in Free to Play”, I give this game 2 years.

    • Interesting says:

      Beta was great for me, 100 hours on my Enforcer
      Load time is 30 seconds, then I play for 3 hours, you call that bad?!
      I love the gameplay, best multiplayer game in a long time
      Why do I care about the marketing?
      more than 50% of games I buy have advertising in them (billboard, cars, vending machines, sports games), you think they all carry a warning up front?

      You obviously have a sucky PC and no friends to play with. APB is not for you, just move on

    • Longrat says:

      Ooooh ad hominems, classy!

      Also, 50% of games? I’ve yet to play a single game with real advertising (I don’t consider a little banner that shows up while loading a multiplayer game an ad)

    • drewski says:

      Really? You’ve never played Battlefield 2142, Battlefield Bad Company, Burnout Paradise, CS: Source, Crackdown, Far Cry 2, Forza Motorsport 2/3, a Guitar Hero game, pretty much any sports title from that past 5 years, Metal Gear Solid 4, any of the Need for Speed games since Underground 2, PlanetSide, Prototype, Scarface, a Skate game, SWAT 4, anything in Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy series of games, a Tony Hawk game or Wipeout XL?

      I mean, there’s over 100 games out there with ingame advertising. I know I’ve bought quite a few of them and never noticed the advertising at all, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there.

    • Longrat says:

      What ads are there in prototype, CSS or Far Cry 2? I guess they were really subtle cause I never noticed them! :S

    • Kadayi says:

      Nvidia. The way it’s meant to be played.

  45. Spoon says:

    Apparently you can pay money to stop the ads. Roughly $5 stops the ads for 180 days. I spotted the option in the account management section under “premium voip”

    • Interesting says:

      So, $10 per month with add sponsored VoIP, or $11 month with add free VoIP.

      Still cheaper than other server based games that have inbuilt VoIP (and no other one has all the 3D VoIP that APB has)

      And by the way, the Vivox system is much higher quality than WoW’s in built VoIP, it’s on par with Vent.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Ventrilo is crap.

      Honestly what is wrong with you apologists? Steam’s voice chat is better!

  46. Magistrate says:

    The title of this post should be “John Walker loathes APB/RTW.” Hell we should make a column designated to it.

    .

  47. Arthur Barnhouse says:

    Has everyone lost their perspective? Advertising is about showing your product in the most positive light. I appreciate that you personally have had interactions with people who are devious. My sister is a member of a marketing team, and she seems to have no stories of how they step up to the line of illegally without crossing. More importantly, your one example is not of advertising being untrue or meschvious but of it being overly intrusive, which is the one criterum I identified as most concerning. Advertising is not inherently evil. Some advertisers are bad, but that is not the same thing.

    • JKjoker says:

      i disagree, advertising IS inherently evil, the whole point is to get your attention on the ad, which most ppl train themselves to ignore pretty quickly, so to do that they use different methods that range from annoying to freaking BS, like having a much higher volume than rest of the sound or making it so flashy it burns a hole in your retinas

      i think the main problem is that this is just the first step, whos preventing them from going from voice ads every 3 hours to every hour or from wallpapering the whole game with ads ?, they already took the biggest step of implementing ingame ads, going further now is pretty easy

    • Stromko says:

      I don’t think advertising is inherently evil, but a lot of advertising methods are quite sinister. I too have noticed advertisements that are so much louder than the program I’m watching that they actually HURT.

      I think if more advertisers got their heads out of their asses and thought more about how to deliver ads to us that we’re actually interested in, there would be no need for all their bullshit.

      Or, heck, if they offered to let players take polls or watch ads in order to gain free time in the action district, and that information was used to craft better ads, I think a lot of folks would be up for that.

      The real problem I see is that they’re not making ads worthwhile for the consumer, and yet they are demanding the consumers attention. The subscription fees aren’t going to get smaller just because they’re beaming an audio ad to players every 3 hours, and it wouldn’t get smaller if they changed things later to advertise every 10 minutes, either …

      It’s not like the consumer has any protection here, you spend 50$ on the box and whatever RTW wants to do the game you just have to swallow it or stop playing. All these debacles make me question how much respect they have for their players.

    • Dawngreeter says:

      Assuming your position is correct Arthur, which it isn’t – how is “presenting your product in the most positive light” not bad? You pay to have people be ambushed by your praise of your own product. You do this for your benefit. If it was about individuals, we’d call a person who does that an assortment of derogatory names and decide not to associate ourselves with him or her.

      Although I suspect arguing on this issue is pointless. You’re either in “capitalism rocks; profit before people” club, or you’re already aware that advertising is evil.

  48. RedFred says:

    This article isn’t about Deus Ex. I, for one, am confused.

  49. oranda says:

    This is perhaps the worst way to do this. I personally wouldn’t mind if there were ads on in game radios, outdoor speaker systems, etc. Imagine walking through a city park to soothing classical music, and then a commercial break comes in. Zero immersion-breakage, it actually INCREASES the suspension of disbelief, and it would be far less likely to tick gamers off, I think.

  50. pupsikaso says:

    This is easily a deal breaker for me. I was on the fence up to this point.

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