Watch Ads For Your Subscription

A quick idea to throw to the masses.  My wife and I watch all our shows on the internet.  We get to watch our favorite shows for about 1-3 minutes of ad watching for an hour long show.  Could this be brought to MMOs?

Obviously MMOs have tried in game advertising.  Planetside had in-game advertising while players waited for transportation between battles.  Matrix Online had them strewn throughout the MegaCity as well.  I believe Anarchy Online was the first big MMO to implement in game advertising.  I think the problem was two-fold: (1) it impinged on player’s feel of immersion.  Seeing Fanta ads in Planetside breaks the feeling that the developers were trying to create through lore, props, etc.  (2) the advertisers could not be sure how well their ads were doing.  I know I barely look at the developer created wall-hangings and stained glass windows depicting actual lore.  In a world where my mind automatically parses out ads on countless web pages, why would anything be different in an active game?

But, what if just prior to a play session a gamer could watch a few ads?  The player logs in, the system checks to see how much ad-time is “owed” based on past play time, and then it starts streaming a few ads to the player.  A player who is “hardcore” with “no time for this $%#&” could pay the monthly subscription fee and get no ads.

This allows advertising without breaking the game immersion, gives players more options to pay for the game, and gives advertisers a way to gain access to an audience they may not normally get.  If I can generate enough money for a big TV studio to keep LOST afloat through minimal ad-watching, shouldn’t there be a way I can pay for a $15 subscription by doing the same?

tuned to a dead station

17 thoughts on “Watch Ads For Your Subscription”

  1. As long as I had an option to ‘opt out’ by paying my $15… sure. But I have a feeling the suits would see it as an ADDITIONAL revenue stream.

  2. I have a copy of the FPS Area-51 that was free, and it does just what you suggest. When you boot it up, before the game starts there’s a little ad that you have to sit there and watch.

    It is (IMO) a small price to play for a free game! I think it’s a great idea, but that assumes the revenue model works.

    When you watch a tv show online, that isn’t the only revenue stream for that show. Hmm, unless you’re watching web-only shows, in which case, that rocks!

  3. @makkaio, I think in-game advertising would most work in The Agency, or maybe the “upcoming” World of Darkness MMO. The Matrix is kind of iffy, but… anyway later interviews with SOE people claimed that ‘they want to see what happens with FreeRealms before deciding on something for The Agency.’

  4. I used to work in market research and the big problem with ads like you’re talking about is that you really have no way of knowing if the person actually “watches” them. Maybe they fire up the game and walk off for 5 minutes. Or they alt-tab out and surf the Internet while the ads play.

    When it’s in-game you at least know the ad passed in front of the player’s eyeballs. So from the standpoint of an advertiser the in-game option is a lot more attractive. The question is if you can pull it off without breaking immersion. For certain types of games (GTA, Nascar, etc.) it works great. But it’s a huge realism breaker in other types (imagine Nike ads in WoW or LotRO).

  5. Well you can always get around ads. I mean online shows you can open up another browser or whatever. ABC has a nice feature where you have to click to continue the program. It could be quite similar for this, where you have let’s say 2-3 15-30 second ads. The user can alt-tab or walk away, but then he would have to come back to press to go on to the next ad.

    I am not suggesting 5 minutes of ads per time you play. Just something more on par with what broadcast networks are doing. My further 2c, but for me personally I always feel like watching on Hulu or whatever is a good trade. Like I don’t feel obligated to watch the ads, but I do want this business model to continue. Silly, probably I know.

  6. I can just see it now. “Sorry guys for missing that boss kill. I got dc’d and stuck watching that mountain dew ad when I tried to get back in.”

    I would really prefer a direct revenue stream. I’m happy paying up front. Anything else feels like I’m being double-dipped.

  7. Pendan, I just checked that out. I was unaware of that. It seems you also get an ad between deaths, but not within ten minutes of each other. If anybody has any comments on it, I would like to hear.

  8. lol not a bad idea Ravious. I personally would love options to watch ads in exchange for free play. I doubt we’d be able to get most companies to go for this but someone might come along and do really well with it.

  9. It’s perfectly acceptable to me. Then again, I’m pretty impervious to advertising, so this wouldn’t really be a problem. Alt-Tab makes me happy.

  10. Great idea. That would really make them guys want to kick you from the server regularly, so you just have to watch the shit all over again.

    Ever been playing WAR? (*lol*) Unless you patch data.myp you have to go through all the crap movies each time you log on. I could stand that for exactly three days. I imagine this a step worse with ads. OMG.

  11. I was not a real active SB player but tried it every so often but has been 6 months now. When they first went free it took several months I believe before the first ad was put in. It was an animated ad for Dell computers that was low resolution but stretched to fill the entire window or monitor in full screen mode so looked bad. They only had the one ad and it had annoying sound. It ran for a couple months I think and then went away. Were no ads for a couple months and then a new ad I think for Nike shoes was used.

    I think they were experimenting with showing the ad after death but I never saw it in my limited play. In SB when you died you were sent to your bind tree or town stone. The normal screen shown during this zoning effect was a giant spiral. Not showing the game world during this time so could say is a good opportunity to show an ad.

    Strangely, I found showing the ad when quitting more annoying that showing it at start up. I think it has to do with being used to slow start ups in games and many already show what I consider ads in the form of the company logo or game movie even if many you can use a key to skip past. When I quit a game I want out fast and most games allow even if char stays in world for a bit.

    Theoretically a game could do some things to try and “force” more viewing. For instance detect when the game is not the front most application and stop the ad. On the other hand they could also be nice and not show the ad if server detects you were in game in the previous minute or two indicating you are trying to get back from a disconnect or crash.

  12. The ads can occur at startup and you can be certain they’re watched if you make all ads necessarily interactive. Basically mini-games, though nothing as expensive to produce as a typical arcade game.

    For example, 7-Up had a great ad campaign called “Show us your can”. You could quickly and easily make a mini-game based on that theme, such as a memory game in which the player tries to match only nice “cans” and avoid the scary ones.

    The only caveat is that the player doesn’t have to win the mini-game to reach the big game. Otherwise, people might occasionally get stuck and be unable to play their game.

  13. Oh yeah, I should also point out that Hulu hates Canadians. After making sure most of the content isn’t available anymore on Youtube or elsewhere, they’ve got a service that’s U.S. only.

    This is the difficulty with advertising, it tends to be localized. Pick the biggest market and block the others.

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