Good grief. In-game advertising sounds like such a wonderful idea…extra revenues, targeted advertising, dynamic ads, etc. etc. Everybody wins with in-game advertising except for the players.
One of the cardinal rules of game design is to “maintain suspension of disbelief”. What the hell is that you ask? When you watch a movie and you see the ropes holding the superhero as he does his spiffy martial-arts moves, or when an egg spontaneously explodes to destroy all of the aliens, or if Rambo takes out a battallion of tanks with his knife and manages to avoid all of the bullets…well you are likely to say “what the hell, that doesn’t make sense”.
The job of filmmakers (and game designers) is to pull you into their story and immerse you into the environment. You willingly suspend your disbelief of what you are watching and experiencing. When you see something that is out of place, or kicks you in the head to remind you of the real world, your sense of disbelief is no longer suspended and the filmmakers/designers have failed.
In some games, particularly racing games, or worlds set in the current day, you would expect to see advertisements for Coke and Nike, or maybe even T*Mobile and Ford. This is expected and actually enhances the sense of immersion.
But in other games, these ads are grossly out of place. Anarchy Online is a good example…why would billboards on some other planet 30,000+ years in the future have an ad for Reebok or the next James Bond movie? It makes no sense, and ruins the sense of immersion in the game. This is one of the things that really pisses me off, and reaffirms my opinion that most MMO developers and publishers really dont know what the hell they are doing. I’ll save that for another rant.
Anyway, Massive recently announced that they would be serving ads in the new MMO Auto Assault. Dumb dumb dumb dumb. It makes no sense, it doesn’t fit within the world mythos, and is entirely out of place.
If you are determined to have ads in games, then stick them at the login screen, or show them during the brief time when players zone from one area to another. Just keep the ads out of the game itself. There are plenty of other areas to advertise to the same people (and likely achieve a better eyeball stickiness).
Intrusive ads suck. It is bad enough I have to see them every few minutes on TV. I play games to escape the real world and to entertain myself. I don’t want to see them in-game unless Im playing Nascar or FIFA.
What do you think?