EA cools interest on in-game advertising

"Those days are over," says free-to-play boss of in-game billboards

Electronic Arts free-to-play boss Ben Cousins has suggested that in-game advertising has not lived up to expectations and is now a secondary priority for the company, behind microtransactions.

Speaking in an interview with Edge magazine Cousins revealed: "We actually aren't getting much from ad revenue at all. The in-game advertising business hasn't grown as fast as people expected it to."

"If you think about how fast the virtual goods business has grown in the last year or so, it's been much quicker and become a much more reliable source of revenue," he said; while comparing in-game advertising to the style of micro-transactions popularised by companies such as Zynga.

Referring to free-to-play online game Battlefield Heroes, and its imminent successor Battlefield: Play4Free, Cousins admitted that, "We hedge our bets". He added: "We thought we'd do in-game advertising and virtual goods sales, and one of those took off really fast and the other hasn't really taken off at all."

Cousins did not dismiss in-game advertising entirely though, and instead suggested that more targeted examples were likely to prove the most effective.

"We did a deal with Dr Pepper for Battlefield Heroes, where if you buy a bottle and scan in the code you get an exclusive outfit.," he said. "That kind of deep integration will work, I think, but I'm not convinced that we'll have billboards in games and things like that. Maybe those days are over."

Latest comments (4)

Andrew Clayton QA Weapons Tester, Electronic Arts7 years ago
This disappoints me. I was actually really impressed the first time I saw in-game advertising (Rainbow Six: Vegas). It made sense with the environment and as long as I understood what the ad was for I was much more likely to go out and buy the product (or see the movie, RS:V had ads for Tropic Thunder).

I think this is just a case where there's not enough advertising about this type of advertising. Irony aside, unless you tell companies that this type of advertising is a possibility and that millions of game players will see it on a very regular basis, no one is going to think of it as a legitimate means of reaching an audience.
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Terence Gage Freelance writer 7 years ago
I like the element of authenticity in-game ads can bring when used in context, but I can't say it's ever made me interested in a product or brand.

The one that I remember most prominently was the 'Diesel' flying billboards in the original G-Police. The fact that it was so understated as well as probably my first instance of in-game advertising means it's the one that always springs to mind when I think about the topic.
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Thiago Appella Country Manager Brazil, wooga GmbH7 years ago
But what about product placement? Almost every game has a car and there you can insert a brand, almost every game has some sound systems, TVs, places to visit, bank, energy drink, clothes - things you certainly can insert a brand too - Like movies do, simple.
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Shane Sweeney Academic 7 years ago
I agree. Seinfeld had a staff member purely dedicated to stocking the shelves in the Sitcoms pantry with licensed goods so that products could be potentially visible (excluding of course entire episodes revolving Mints or Ovaltine). Hell even Heavy Rain is a canidate for such advertising.
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