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  In-Game Advertising Data A Double-Edged Design Tool  
Posted 2007-11-26 by Tony Walsh
Next Generation reports that in-game advertising firm Double Fusion believes player behavior data collected by in-game advertising systems can help the level-design process. Such systems monitor player location, gaze, time spent in a given 3D area, and other such details used to measure the effectiveness of an ad placement. The idea is that this data could be leveraged to tweak, tune, and build better game levels. I agree that aggregated in-game ad data could be considered in the level design process, but I don't anticipate games would necessarily be improved as a result.

As in-game advertiser Massive (now owned by Microsoft) has shown over the years [1, 2, 3, 4], game play and narrative is often ruined by ad-placement rather than supported by it. I believe that level design will ultimately be constrained if collected advertising data is used as a design tool. Will level designers be given the freedom to design what suits a game the best, or will they be forced to design levels using templates or methods proven to maximize advertising effectiveness? If anything, I can see levels becoming homogenized across a variety of games (due to adoption of ad-biased design strategies), rather than game levels becoming more interesting or artistic.
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Comment posted by Dezro
November 26, 2007 @ 7:01 pm
The Half-Life 2 Episodes already measure players in a similar way, except without the advertising. It seems to be working for them.

Public stats here.
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
November 27, 2007 @ 3:49 pm
I think that there's lots of use for player data in testing and design (see that recent Wired article on Halo testing), I guess my complaint about the in-game ad data is that it's biased towards improving in-game ad efficiency rather than the player experience. Data collected by Valve doesn't seem to come with any particular agenda.
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