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News & Features Discussion  » MMORPG.COM News: Editorial: MMO Advertising

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31 posts found

Novice Member

Joined: 1/07/04
Posts: 2425

OP  12/29/05 3:48:15 PM#1

In a new editorial, Lead Content Editor Dana Massey looks at the future of advertising in online gaming. Is it right? If you accept it's here to stay, how best to do it? The issue raises a lot of questions.

Over the past year, we’ve begun to see the first inroads of advertising into massively multi-player online games. First, an older version of Anarchy Online became free to anyone who does not mind ads. Second, for a time, EverQuest II introduced a ‘/pizza’ command that lets player order a real life pie without leaving their keyboard. Then, SOE announced that they have partnered with the same folks powering Anarchy Online’s advertisements to put them into Planetside and The Matrix Online.

For developers and publishers, this represents a new frontier of income that has long been established in other entertainment mediums: digital product placement. Yet, how have consumers reacted? To date the range of emotions have gone from indifference to anger. As we look to the future, I want to examine firstly whether this path is a fair one, and secondly what forms are most appropriate for players and effective for advertisers.

You can read the full editorial here.

Dana Massey
Formerly of
Currently Lead Designer for Bit Trap Studios


Hard Core Member

Joined: 2/18/04
Posts: 1388

12/29/05 6:39:37 PM#2

I for one will never pay my money for a game, alreayd payed by some big companies to ram bad commersials down my throat. People dream of free games and did some heavy lobbying for ads in games.. Dreamers and children all of them. This is reality people. You now pay... to be bombarded with more ad spam. Thanks a lot.


"This is not a game to be tossed aside lightly.
It should be thrown with great force"


Novice Member

Joined: 8/23/05
Posts: 3

12/29/05 7:04:37 PM#3

the /pizza thing from everquest 2 was a april fool's joke... if u didnt know that...

oh yea and WoW did something exactly like that, except it was pandaren express (panda express)

SWG: Jefch Bowa (Bria)
WoW: Jefch (Kil'Jaeden)
FFXI: Jefch (Alexander)


Novice Member

Joined: 9/17/03
Posts: 54

12/29/05 8:50:01 PM#4

While this is quite probably the future we have to face, if it drives down subscription fees or even simply lets game companies spend a bit more on production, then so be it. It has its place.

I think this is an illusion. In the end you'll have to pay the same plus you'll have the advertising...

... at least for SOE-products. :þ


Novice Member

Joined: 10/06/03
Posts: 51

Life has no happy ending, just an ending

12/29/05 10:10:48 PM#5

I think its great, I cant wait for them to put in a HeroDonalds in CoV So I can rob it every single day.

I hear a crunching cracking sound, the breaking of your bones


Novice Member

Joined: 12/29/05
Posts: 2

12/30/05 12:12:03 AM#6

I love the responses to this article, seeing as though the advertising in the game isnt "rammed" down anything as you simply cant "ram" anything digital threw a computer screen.  My advice don't stare so much, don't watch as much TV, move to a third world country, or stop whining.

The simple fact is the advertising once in game and functioning properly is in some cases keeping a game alive, and in others allowing free gameplay.  In all of the games with advertising in them that I have played(Anarchy Online and Planetside), the signs and billboards were already there, bearing advertisements concerning the world in which the sign resided.  The change is not affecting gameplay in Planetside I know, and probably not in AO.

Your not paying to see advertising, if you can't deal with something this simple, you should really think about the world you live in and how long left you have in it.  Because its not going to get any better, and it certainly isnt hurting anything.


Novice Member

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 24

12/30/05 12:41:38 AM#7
 So all the countless this game plays best with an nvida/ati that some games *cough* EQ2 force us to look at every time we start the game are not advertisements..the fact is games already advertise. However the first game that has a pop up anything in game will be flamed till it dies.

Novice Member

Joined: 11/04/03
Posts: 146

12/30/05 2:29:33 AM#8
As long as it is in a contemporary setting I don't mind.  I say this, in regards to companies that are just not after money.  I Think the folks at Cryptic would use the income to better the game or pass savings on to the players. What I mean by improving the game is; using the income to hire more developers.  I personally do not think SoE would have the same intentions, I think they are more about the money. I know Cryptic would would probably not have final say in such a matter, since NC Soft is connected with them.  


Novice Member

Joined: 6/06/04
Posts: 1617


12/30/05 2:49:51 AM#9

Frankly, yes, we will see an influx in in-game advertising. Will it really work? Who knows. Bus ads are on the sides of buses. Do THEY work? some say they do, some say they dont.

The fact is, in the fantasy genre, they wont really fit anywhere. What, are we going to have "Robin Hood Pizza" carved into the nearest redwood? Hell no.

Sure, in sci-fi or sci-fi/fantasy hybrid games, yes, you can fit them in there... as they fit. But unless you want to so something like, and have a huge advertisement taking up a large portion of the screens real estate at all times (thus COMPLETELY taking away from all immersion) then I do not think we will see a huge influx, or any content pertaining to advertising, in the medieval/primitive fantasy genre.

Overall, I do not feel the MMORPG genre is quite large enough to sustain such a huge advertising domain, and we might see a few IGAs from people like Sony... but I do not think it will be that much of a problem.

Atleast theyre doing it tastefully, and placing them in the correct context, like on billboards and things in high-tech cities. Its the exact same as the fake advertisements they always had there... except now its for free products.

I see no difference. Its a win/win for everyone as far as I can tell.


Novice Member

Joined: 2/24/04
Posts: 520

12/30/05 5:19:28 AM#10

As long as advertising is not invasive (like pop-up ads, for instance), then it's fine with me. In sci-fi games, such billboards give style to the game after all, they make it more realistic.

Such advertising methods may prove beneficial to the customers, if they lead to a reduction in subscription cost or, potentially, free subscriptions with advertising (much like Anarchy Online's free edition). However, there is no guarantee that advertisement will lead in the reduction of the cost for the customer.

Currently playing:
* City of Heroes: Deggial, Assault Rifle/Devices Blaster. Server: Defiant.
* City of Villains: Snakeroot, Plant/Thorns Dominator. Server: Defiant.


Novice Member

Joined: 1/29/05
Posts: 12


12/30/05 7:57:31 AM#11

Ideologically, I wouldn't want advertising in my games. But Realistically, I think it's a necessary evil to keep a game afloat. Annarchy Online (AO) is the prime example, and they've proven that in-game advertising works and people will tolerate it. Money makes MMORPG Worlds go round.

As much as some would hate to admit it, it's all about money. Although as long as they keep it as non-invasive as possible, it should be an okay aspect of a game. Therefore, no pop-ups, transition ad pages, or anything else blatantly annoying or irritating.




Joined: 6/06/04
Posts: 11957

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12/30/05 9:22:33 AM#12

Originally posted by JefchBowa

the /pizza thing from everquest 2 was a april fool's joke... if u didnt know that...

I thought it was, becuase you can't possibly do that, becuase you need real infomation, local, etc. Anyone can see through that as a fake. Why didn't the editor catch this?

-In memory of Laura "Taera" Genender. Passed away on Aug/13/08-


Novice Member

Joined: 3/18/04
Posts: 469

The meaning of life is attained by caring for the one you have created.

Papa for life!!!

12/30/05 10:12:57 AM#13

If it eliminates the overall cost im going to have to pay for the game, sure i dont mind but it had better be in step with the game. If a company is just looking for profits like SOE then im not going to waste my time paying to play. Most folks play games to escape a bit from normal day to day life or satisfy thier competitive needs. Too many titles on the market to waste my time with one that forces you to pay for spam and gives nothing back.


Novice Member

Joined: 6/14/04
Posts: 830

12/30/05 10:27:11 AM#14

I don't mind it as long as it fits. Something like AO or Matrix, then yeah I can see it. I think we'll see more of it to. It isn't that much different than paying for cable and sitting through commercials. I would almost prefer it in a game like that. Games like EQ and WOW, it wouldn't realy fit. The day I'm about ready to kill a big boss in a fantasy game and I get a pop-up telling me to enter another coca cola UPC number to continue, is the day I'm gone.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 10/12/04
Posts: 649

12/30/05 11:08:00 AM#15

85% of mmorpgs (probably more) are in a fantasy based setting. Which is odd if you ask me, make a very good sci-fi mmorpg and you have less to compete with! I'm sure there is some smart investor out there who can get a mmorpg sponsored by say Apple and have in game ads for iPod. AO can pretty much get away with it since its a futuristic setting, but try placing a Coca-Cola vending machine in Azeroth.

I suppose it depends on exactly what is being advertised. What if it is something like Marlboro or Smirnoff, if it is an adult rated game then you can do that, *but* since you can play a mmorpg anywhere throughout the world you may have legal issues with advertising a product which is age-restricted, illegal in one country but not another.

If it is done subtley and not IN YER FACE, then I don't see a problem.

What if it's something that I don't mind, but another gamer might. For instance take shampoo which has been animal tested. I don't care either way, but Joey McPaladin might.

In the making of this post no animals were harmed in anyway and all names, except Joey McPaladin, are purely fictitous.

BTW /pizza in EQ2 wasn't a joke. Using that command opens a browser to pizza hut.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/17/05
Posts: 3

12/30/05 11:42:16 AM#16

There's an article on this over at from last month that I spotted.

I'd link it here, but apparently this editor screws up URLS when I try to post them. Seems like a considerable oversight. Anyway, if you want to read it, go over there and look for an article called Pepsi Online, there's a pretty funny picture posted with it as well.



Novice Member

Joined: 9/02/05
Posts: 21

12/30/05 12:13:02 PM#17

I think many are missing a possible issue that can arise from all this – what happens when the advertisers start dictating game content and overall direction. Call me paranoid or a conspiracy nut if you want but it is not a far stretch to think that in time game design could be influenced by its ability to sell add space.

I am not saying that Coke is going to tell SOE that while they want to advertise in their new game they are not sure because focus groups and market research show the game seems to cater more to the Pepsi drinking crowd. I am also not saying that SOE would change the game’s design to appeal more to the Coke drinking crowd if Coke was willing to put up more cash for advertising than Pepsi. I mean advertisers have no control over TV, movies or other things right;)


Novice Member

Joined: 3/25/04
Posts: 79

"In the immortal words of Socrates who said, "I drank what?"
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Pure Genius

12/30/05 12:15:37 PM#18

I'm personally against the legal lobbying that allows any marketing board in the world to stick down a flag on a public service, paid for or free, and call it a "market". What a perfect way to justify industrial pollution, visual pollution, and trade that weakens local economies in favor of nebulous and much larger -less immediately effectual in communities -economies. It's as rotten as offshoring. But since most people seem to eat up whatever the media spins at them and are economically ignorant, I think this will get flamed. I hate abstracting "most people", I just don't witness the evidence to the contrary often.

So, this should be interesting to see how people vote.

Is advertising in MMORPG's and ANY video game wrong?

YES, because I pay to not be advertised at regardless of how marketing boards might deem anywhere not advertised at w/ a lot of public attn a "market"
YES, because ads are annoying, even if they have a "right" to do it!
NO, because it's no different than any other market, like television commercials, theatre pre-film ads, radio ads and poster promotions.
NO, because it's normal on websites with changing banners and on user clients for many MMORPG's. It won't hurt.
(login to vote)

"...the enchantment of error that you put on me I must wear forever in your eyes. We are not always what we seem and hardly ever what we dream."


Novice Member

Joined: 10/02/03
Posts: 242

12/30/05 12:57:56 PM#19

The way I look at it, it's a market like any other. I'm a 33-year old man who plays video games far more than I watch television, only listens to the radio when I forget to charge my iPod and doesn't read newspapers or magazines. I'm extremely difficult for advertisers to reach, and I'm just one example of a rapidly growing demographic. If an advertiser wants to get to me, he's gonna have to get in my game. They've got the hard part done already: they've got me sitting still for several hours a day looking at the same thing. The audience is there. All they need now is the right message. They know that, and they're sitting in board rooms right now discussing how to do it.

I wouldn't mind seeing advertisements in City of Heroes/Villains. Seeing a familiar fast food restaurant or a professionally-designed billboard would only add to the immersion and visual variety of the game world. My concern is the same as the author's: I don't want to see tongue-in-cheek product placement in fantasy MMOs, like a Ye Olde Pepsi healing elixer or a Dew of the Mountain hasten potion in Everquest.

One way I can see adding advertising in any MMO regardless of genre is to place it on loading screens. We already have ads leading into many games, usually for the developers, publishers, retailers or hardware manufacturers. I wouldn't be surprised to see loading screens advertising soft drinks or snack foods. I only hope the load times aren't deliberately increased or capped at a minimum duration to appease advertisers.


Novice Member

Joined: 1/07/04
Posts: 2425

OP  12/30/05 2:07:46 PM#20

Originally posted by Rikimaru_X

Originally posted by JefchBowa
the /pizza thing from everquest 2 was a april fool's joke... if u didnt know that...

I thought it was, becuase you can't possibly do that, becuase you need real infomation, local, etc. Anyone can see through that as a fake. Why didn't the editor catch this?

WoW did an April fool's joke in response. /pizza was very real.

Dana Massey
Formerly of
Currently Lead Designer for Bit Trap Studios

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