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  Massive Keeps Ruining ‘Anarchy Online’  
Posted 2006-07-25 by Tony Walsh
Microsoft's recently-acquired in-game ad network Massive Incorporated polluted the sci-fi world of Anarchy Online with ads for Sprite and G4 TV last year, and blasted players with full-motion video ads this year. The company's latest cunning stunt involves plastering billboards inside the game with interactive ads for the Toyota Yaris. How does a contemporary car fit into a far-future alien world? It doesn't. At all.

Despite the glaring disjuncture between real and fantasy worlds, Anarchy Online's maker says the campaign represents "another leap forward" in advergaming. Massive's CEO Mitch Davis claims his company "always has the best interest of the gamers and the game experience in mind." Dude, if your track record with Anarchy Online wasn't bad enough, I have four words for you: Deuce Bigalow: European Gigalow.
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Comment posted by Gary Hayes
July 26, 2006 @ 11:00 am
Thanks for the heads up on this Tony. I wondered when the MS acquistion of massive would rear up first. I think I can spot a trend here. Advertisers, like bulls in the preverbial china shops, invade our sacred virtual spaces - as I have moaned about several times before re: Second Life (although even real world national flags in SL get my back up at the moment).

Like the real world where advertisers have little recourse if they put a thousand bill boards up and down our country lanes (the end scene of Brazil springs to mind if you need a visual) - unless there is gamer revolt, by not playing the game and stopping your subs, the advertisers will hunt down those eyeballs wherever they are - but there again we can just wait for those subscriptions to drop as each MMORPG becomes retrospectively advertising sponsored - or perhaps not.
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
July 27, 2006 @ 2:38 pm
OK, OK, Tony, we got it. You hate advertising and big corporations and you think such commerce "pollutes" game spaces.

But could you let us look over your shoulder a little more to see what the mass of the game players are thinking about this? Are they reacting, rebelling, even noticing? In their world terms, I mean, not what you ascribe to them.

And these companies, do they have a way to measure success? Clicks? Avatar eyeballs? Use of special offers?

Companies use billboards because they work. And they work on the majority of the eyeballs that don't have the aesthetics and world views that you and posters do. So that has to be studied objectively.
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
July 27, 2006 @ 5:58 pm
Hey, Prok, if you're tired of reading me rip into immersion-shattering in-game ads, by all means stop reading. I'll stop ripping when there's nothing left to rip. Or I get bored. Whichever comes first.

If I understand correctly, you're asking for a more detailed analysis of in-game ads and their effect on gamers at large. I can't give you that sort of analysis at this time (nor did I have time when I wrote the entry we are discussing). I'm too busy with my professional work right now. Besides which, I don't have the resources to conduct a large-scale study. A few gamers are reacting and rebelling. Not many. Not many people react or rebel against anything.

In-game advertisers do have some ways to measure success, depending on their objectives. As I've written about previously, Massive has a range of data it collects on player behaviour. Some in-game advertisers feel successful if a player looks at or clicks on an ad. I've never heard of an in-game advertiser factoring in gamer satisfaction with their ads as a measure of success. As long as the ad is viewed, it doesn't seem to matter if the gamer liked the ad.

I don't have any metrics handy that show billboards are more effective than other forms of advertising, but I bet Massive does. I could probably dig up some info on how internet surfers have become blinded to banner ads, but I don't feel compelled to do so.

There is no such thing as objectivity in the same way that there is no such thing as "perfect." So I am not likely to be able to look at things objectively. If you're asking for a more balanced or more informational article, I just don't have time for that at the moment.
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
July 27, 2006 @ 6:02 pm
Gary, on the rearing of MS Massive's head, I dread what it's going to do to Microsoft products and services. There's talk about Massive ads coming to MSN Messenger, Windows Live and the Windows Vista startup screens, but I don't have any links to supporting articles at the moment.
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