After reading about the ads in the upcoming BF2142, the old anger started welling up in me again.
In-game advertising is the worst thing that has ever happened to the gaming industry. The reprecussions are potentially much deeper than appear on the surface.
First, the basics- Advertising works with television because it pays for the production of the shows. This allows entertainment to be viewed for free (on major networks) or for a nominal fee (on cable). The entire industry is based around this principle, and for the most part it works.
Games cost $40-60 dollars a piece. In-game advertising has not offset this cost whatsoever. In the nastiest case of in-game advertising I’ve seen, Fight Night 3, the ads were so intrusive and obnoxious it was intolerable (that punch brought to you by Chicken Fries, new at Burger King!). And was the game any cheaper? No. It was actually 10 dollars more than the average price of a console game.
In Battlefield 2142, the ads will stream in realtime from an ad server. Direct from the ad server into your own computer, shoved into your gamespace with no option for you to escape them. Will the game be cheaper? Of course not. Not only will it not be cheaper, but after profiting from your initial game purchase, EA will then reap in ad revenue every single second you play the game from that point forward. This is because the servers are constantly streaming whatever content the ad companies paid for directly to your computer 24/7. And what benefit do you, the customer, get from this huge influx of profit going to EA? A bunch of ads you’re forced to stare at while navigating a war torn landscape 130 years in the future.
Now, the real kicker. Once all the companies jump on this bandwagon, they will become more and more dependant on ad revenue to create a game. When this happens, they will have to answer to their corporate sponsors. Does Coke not want to have people getting run over by a car in the presence of their ad? No problem, we won’t make games that have people getting run over. Does Johnson and Johnson not want to be associated with that filthy alien titty? No problem. We’ll take all female aliens out of our game.
I’m sure there are going to be people responding to this with such amazing insights as “OMG stop whining so what ads are everywhere deal with it lol”. Or “Yeah right, you’re totally overreacting, sky is falling, etc. Everything is going to be fine”. To those people, just look at what huge say advertising has in all television media. Look how many programs have been cancelled or scaled back because of what corporate ad interests want.