Ads in Games

01 Aug

I’ve gotten used to subtle ad placements in games… things like real products being advertised on billboards in a racing game. Things you notice but they’re not distracting. I thought it was a little bit money-grubbing (hey, I *paid* you for this game), but I didn’t mind so much.

Today, I fired up EA’s Fight Night 4 on the XBox and saw something that hadn’t been there previously. During one of the transition screens (while a ring/fighter was being loaded) there was a blatant ad. Right there above the spot where they give you gameplay tips, there was an box ad for a movie.

Come on. I paid $60 for this game. Do I really need to see ads too? I paid for the privilege of seeing you be more money hungry? WTF? Ads are for supporting free stuff. That’s why they’re aired on local television stations (which is free), but not HBO (which I pay for).

I put ads on some of my websites (where the content is free) and potentially in the free programs I write for the iPhone, but wouldn’t dream of putting them in the paid programs. If you paid me for a program, you shouldn’t have to see ads. Period.

If this is a trend they plan to continue, this will be my last EA game. There are plenty of other game developers out there happy just to get the $60 for the game, and I’m happy to give it to them.

Incidentally, I’ll be interested to see how the NetNewsWire (NNW) team deals with this problem. They recently released 3.2 beta, for free, and it displays ads. The thing is, they used to have a paid “premium” version that had no ads. Somehow, they’ll need to make sure those paid users aren’t put off by the ads they’re now going to be seeing…

UPDATE: Jesus. I finally got around to fighting that fight (I was so put off by the original ad, I decided to write the blog post first), and now I see they also have ads in between rounds. Fuckers.

For the record, I don’t mind when they put stuff on the mat or the corner padding, etc. Unobtrusive. Fight Night 3 had sponsorhips (“This fight brought to you by Burger King”) and I didn’t mind that. But when you pop up 2 square ads in my face when I’m trying to read something important on the screen (such as how I did in the last round), you’re crossing a line. I did a quick Google search and I’m not the only one. EA are you listening?

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