the rantings and ravings of a not quite sane cow

Monday, September 21, 2009

Slashee Rants: In-Game Advertising

It's a fact of life: advertising is everywhere. And while I'm sure we'd all like to shoot the guy who thought of it in the first place, we're stuck with it until I invent a time machine. The theory behind it is actually pretty good: you get something for free, whoever made it gets some money, everybody wins.

I don't mind ads on TV. I'd rather get ads than have to pay for TV. Of course, with technology these days we can skip ads. Naturally the people paying for the ads, and the ones making money from them are outraged. I'd like to point out though, that while I can only speak for myself, I can't remember any times that I've bought something just because I saw it an ad on TV. If I'm not going to buy anything from an ad... does it really matter if I skip them?

Still not touching the original subject, I'd like to discuss the internet now. Ads have been around since the start of the internet. These days, they're not hard to block entirely. That's what I do (I love you, Adblock Plus!). I might not block ads if they weren't so obnoxious. But when you've got a flashing thing over here, a flashing thing over there, pop ups, pop unders, and if you're really lucky, a healthy dose of spyware... that's just taking things too far. Google text ads are pretty good... they're unobtrusive and relevant, unlike most ads (you wouldn't believe how many websites I'm the millionth visitor to). If they were the only ads around, I'd gladly leave them on.

While that is all well and good, the original subject was games. If you take away one sentence from this, then let it be the following: Ads in something that's free are alright, but if I pay $100 (or more) for something, it shouldn't have ads. Ads are used to provide revenue when you're providing a free service. Free games, I don't mind ads in. But if I've paid plenty of money for a game (and they cost enough these days), I think I have the right to be a little pissed at some game company executive (probably Bobby Kotick) lining his pockets with ad money, when there's already plenty coming in from sales of the game. And most of the time, they look damn out of place.
  • Screaming through Paradise City, there are plenty of billboards for the game (those you can destroy), and plenty of billboard ads (which you can't)... at least let me take them out for a bit of revenge.
  • Swinging through a destroyed city in Bionic Commando, there are billboards. How the hell did the bomb manage to destroy everything EXCEPT the ads?
  • Rocking out on stage in Guitar Hero, there are ads. While plenty of real stadiums and wherever the hell else you play music have ads, they look completely out of place in the stylised world of GH.
On the other hand, the ads in Midnight Club: LA don't look so out of place... to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure whether they're in there for authenticity or because they're getting paid for it... that's how suitable they are.

Also worth noting: I'm sure we all don't remember when an update for SWAT 4 not only added ads, but tracked how long you looked at them and sent that data back to the mothership. While that's far from the biggest invasion of privacy I've ever seen, it's still not something you want to be a victim of.

In summary: either get rid of the ads in games or give me the games for free.

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