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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."


David Jenkins