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Thursday, January 19, 2006

In-Game Ads ... Where Do We Go From Here?

Ars Technica has an excellent run-down on how Subway ads made their way into your Counter-Strike game. And to think, that was once the sole responsibility of jackass taggers. It's an interesting look as to how this form of advertisement is quickly changing. For instance, directed marketing for local business notches the whole thing up a level.

So what's next? Will they track your chat log and try to determine appropriate products for you? Sounds crazy that someone might try and sell you a six pack of L33T cola, but users of Google Mail have already grown accustomed to this kind of random connection between communication and banner ads. Will developers ever be able to insist on appropriate ads based on game space ... so that a billboard for Durex shows up in the men's room but not in the schoolyard?

Worse of all, will the inverse become true? Will developers gear their content to appease the advertisement? A Pepsi ad would look darn silly in Shadow the Colossus. Well, some gamers would say it would look silly in 90% of titles, but it would look really out of place in a slightly dreamy semi-watercolored fantasy realm. A studio might find it more attractive to do a game with plenty of urban sprawl ... and accordingly the poster and billboard spots that go along with it.

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