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Is Ad-Sponsoring the Future of PC Gaming?

By - Source: Tom's Hardware | B 19 comments

To prevent piracy, are ad-sponsored PC games the way of the future?

They might be, and FileFront is one of many file hosting sites that are testing the waters by offering popular PC titles to download and play for free. While ad-sponsored gaming is nothing new, the latest fiasco surrounding Electronic Art’s recent release of Spore and its usage of SecuRom may force PC gamers to find alternate methods to calm the addiction.

Then again, offering older games with ad-support could be just another way to keep those popular titles out on the street and earning revenue. Last year Ubisoft was one of the first publishers to offer its games for free including Far Cry, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Rayman Raving Rabbids and Ghost Recon. But does this advertising scheme actually work?

According to Massive Inc., a dynamic advertising network embedded in many games bought today, the company believes that the system actually does work (story). In a test conducted by Nielson entertainment, the average purchase considerations - based on ad campaigns that ran on the Massive network - increased by 41 percent. Additionally, the average ad recall increased by 41 percent whereas average brand familiarity increased by 64 percent. The study included over 600 gamers playing Need for Speed: Carbon on the Xbox 360 and PC.

A few new ad-sponsored games have appeared online since last week including Full Spectrum Warrior, Area 51, The Suffering and Beyond Good & Evil. While there’s no complaint filed here in terms of downloading free games, one has to wonder how these will effect the overall gameplay. For some, this won’t matter as long as the hard-earned cash remains tucked away in the wallet. For others, the cost of actually purchasing the game online or through offline retail outlets may justify the game’s pricetag.

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  • 0 Hide
    chaohsiangchen , October 6, 2008 5:27 AM
    If ads can sustain a healthy gaming industry the way it sustains Fox, NBC, ABC and CBS, then I'd say that we should learn to live with it. Sure ads are annoying at times, but people need incentive to make games, otherwise we will only have a handful of graduate students in CS/EE trying to write half-assed programs in order to get their Ph.D. degree. There are a few great people who are dedicating to free software out there, and they indeed contributed a lot to open source community. However, most people have economic consideration and need to work hard to put food on their tables.
  • 3 Hide
    bf2gameplaya , October 6, 2008 5:36 AM
    I still can't decide if intrusive marketing should be defined as consumer rape or creative parasitism.

    Either way, the market will show you just how much your game advertisements are worth to them: absolutely zero.
  • 2 Hide
    aziraphale , October 6, 2008 5:56 AM
    I sure hope there will be some adblock feature for this...
  • -4 Hide
    wahdangun , October 6, 2008 6:06 AM
    yeah it's great idea, ilove it and it will make those cracker/pirate get pissed. because they don't have any game to crack.
  • 1 Hide
    curnel_D , October 6, 2008 6:20 AM
    I really dont see the problem here. Out of game ads while I'm loading up multiplayer levels? Awesome. Something to distract me from the boring crysis loading bar that sticks at 100% for years for 64-bit systems. Ingame advertising, as I'm jumping my awesome porsche 911 through a giant cocacola billboard? Holy crap! Hell, it may even make me want a coke. Who Cares, seriously? The only reason people are concearned is because they feel like they should be. Get over the bullcrap and just live.
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , October 6, 2008 7:20 AM
    Advertising could solve the piracy problem, but context is very important. I don't want to see aliens wearing nike shoes or other nonsense.
  • 2 Hide
    Maxor127 , October 6, 2008 7:41 AM
    I have no clue how advertising works in these types of games. I haven't checked them out.

    As for commercial game, the big problem with advertising for me is they try to spin it like it's a benefit for gamers, but really they get nothing of value in return except ads shoehorned into their games. Plus there's the issue of privacy where they keep tabs on who looks at what ads for how long and what sort of personal information is exchanged through that, but I'm not really concerned about that. I just hate that companies add advertisements to their games, but it doesn't lower the cost of the game, it doesn't offer improved support or extra freebies. It adds nothing except extra revenue for the company and nothing for the consumer.

    If a game is free, it's all good. But I hate when a company tries to throw ads into a commercial game (like Battlefield 2142).
  • -1 Hide
    enforcer22 , October 6, 2008 9:11 AM
    Maxor127the big problem with advertising for me is they try to spin it like it's a benefit for gamers, but really they get nothing of value in return


    The benafit is they make more money off subliminal messeging and you get more games that we would all hope would have some thought put into them since they are making more money.

    We can hope right?

    seriously who cares? so instead of some blurry cans of soda ona desk it would be cans of coke. and instead of made up names for cereal on a desk in halflife its lucky charms. Maybe a bag of m&m's in a load screen. I think some of you are looking way to into the ad thing.

    wahdangunyeah it's great idea, ilove it and it will make those cracker/pirate get pissed. because they don't have any game to crack.


    grow up. maybe if you learned why people rather download and crack some games you might understand.

    Want to stop alot of piracy? make games that dont suck.

    I dont personaly care and seriously i always wonderd why they didnt just use cans of coke instead of a blury can of something that looked like coke. (copyrights aside)
  • 2 Hide
    Master Exon , October 6, 2008 12:18 PM
    wahdangunyeah it's great idea, ilove it and it will make those cracker/pirate get pissed. because they don't have any game to crack.

    No way, now they have to remove Ads AND and nocd cracks. It'll probably be a bad idea if we still pay $60 and get adverts.
  • -3 Hide
    nekatreven , October 6, 2008 2:54 PM
    NewJohnny2Advertising could solve the piracy problem, but context is very important. I don't want to see aliens wearing nike shoes or other nonsense.


    rofl...too true
  • -1 Hide
    NuclearShadow , October 6, 2008 3:34 PM
    We already deal with ads in our retail games now so this option is certainly one I wouldn't object to. Of course I don't think it would ever happen as it would be clear that they could just bombard the game with advertisements and still sell the game.
  • 2 Hide
    falcompsx , October 6, 2008 4:56 PM
    Ads in games are fine as long as its reasonable(for free games). I dont want a splash screen every 5 minutes or something retarded.
  • -1 Hide
    Dekasav , October 6, 2008 5:00 PM
    Shadowbane, an MMORPG that was pay-to-play, and eventually went free, implemented an ad-sponsored idea. Way it worked, is when you started up the game, you exited the game, and everytime you died (but only once every...10 minutes I think) you saw a minute long commercial. Made the game free, kept the company doing ok, win-win in my eyes.

    I like that idea, but I don't think I'm in favor of in-game stuff near so much. Context would be very important, but I wouldn't mind seeing posters on walls for Coke if I'm shooting baddies in a city; it might help quench my thirst.
  • -1 Hide
    falcompsx , October 6, 2008 5:05 PM
    NewJohnny2Advertising could solve the piracy problem, but context is very important. I don't want to see aliens wearing nike shoes or other nonsense.

    smart developers won't do the aliens in nikes, it will detract from the gaming experience and ruin their game. Fewer people play = less revenue = failed game.

    I think this adsupported idea is actually a pretty good idea.
  • 2 Hide
    kittle , October 6, 2008 7:46 PM
    As a download-and-play-for-free setup I can understand, and in some cases live with it. The gamedev people gotta get paid.

    but........
    If ive shelled out $50 or $60 of my hard earned cash and STILL have adds plastered all over my game -- no thank you, i'll be searching for a noAds crack, and telling my friends "dont buy that game"
  • 0 Hide
    linksolo74 , October 6, 2008 8:14 PM
    The link to Beyond Good & Evil takes you to the 1up profile of the game. I don't see a download link for it anywhere.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 7, 2008 4:01 AM
    iNSTED OF PIRATES CRACKING PAID GAMES THEY WILL REMOVE THE ADDS. gg
  • 0 Hide
    Yuka , October 7, 2008 5:31 AM
    What kind of adds are talking about here, though?

    Loading screens? In-game items? (Soda machines in FEAR are a good place IMO, lol) Pop-ups? (would be very idiotic)

    We shouldn't say it's an abomination first hand, i mean, there are a lot of elements inside of a game that can make it even more "realistic" thanks to publicity. We'd depend on the brilliant minds behind develop though, cause the managers are going to bitch a lot when a sponsor doesn't get his part, lol.

    Anyway, it's on a maturing stage, so we can't conclude just yet IMO.

    Esop!
  • 0 Hide
    smalltime0 , October 7, 2008 5:31 AM
    If they implement it ingame similar to BF2142 I'll be happy, the ads are non intrusive and actually add a bit to the experience.

    However I dont want to pay the full price (In aust approx $100) for the privledge of seeing ads...