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  ‘Massive’ Ruins ‘Anarchy Online’  
Posted 2006-03-27 by Tony Walsh
Massive Incorporated offers game publishers a way to squeeze more revenue from a their products through dynamic, internet-facilitated advertising. The company has historically (and relentlessly) insisted that real-world advertisements make games more realistic, although in most cases its assertion simply isn't true. Massive cluttered the game Planetside with ads for the movie Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo and Coca-Cola products, rendering the game's sci-fi environs less realistic. But it didn't stop the madness at Planetside.

The company first clumsily wedged billboards into Anarchy Online (AO) back in 2005, but has since cranked up the attraction (or "distraction") factor to eleven. Blogger Van Hemlock paints a grim picture of the invasive ads, which blast frequent, full motion video at players in high-traffic game areas. Those playing the game for free can't turn off the ads, although paid subscribers can opt out of sensory bombardment.

"High on one wall, in the main room in each store, is a great big video billboard," writes Van Hemlock, "and this board plays the same 15 second trailer for the [V for Vendetta] film over and over, in a continual loop, with quite intrusive audio stream built in...Even TV adverts are only 12 minutes in every hour, but this was relentless, constant, and quite possibly a human rights abuse...So I find that just by shopping for equipment in my little online game, I’m made very angry by 'V for Vendetta', simply because it’s trailer is like a skipping CD, flaying at my nerves. They probably call this a 'Negative Brand Synergy' or somesuch, and should probably be avoided if you actually want to sell any Vendettas...Worse still, I end up identifying [AO maker] FunCom as the perpetrator of my annoyance, and faced with the choice of paying for a full account, or just going away so that... the... noises... stop..., I'm now considerably less likely to pick the one that means more money for FunCom."

It might be that Massive has changed its mantra from "ads make games more realistic" to "let's shove brands up the backsides of gamers." A recent Wired article cites Massive CEO Mitch Davis as musing "Imagine if a certain brand of sneakers increased your avatar's dexterity." Seems like Massive's weak grip on reality just slipped completely.
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