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Microsoft firmly committed to in-game advertising

Firmly cementing its belief in the rapidly expanding in-game advertising sector, Microsoft is set to acquire Massive Inc in a deal estimated to be worth USD 200-400 million.

Microsoft is set to acquire Massive Inc in a deal estimated to be worth USD 200-400 million, in a move which firmly cements the software giant's belief in the rapidly expanding in-game advertising sector.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, which cites "people familiar with the matter", the official announcement is expected to be made next week, although Microsoft is keeping quiet on the matter at present, offering nothing but the official line of refusing to comment on rumour.

Massive Inc currently employs approximately 80 staff, and has signed a number of top publishers to its in-game advertising network, including the most recent partnerships with the newly revived Acclaim Games and Take-Two.

Another of Massive's partners is Sony Online Entertainment, and it is unknown at present how the acquisition deal will affect that relationship, although it's possible that Sony could also step into the game with an acquisition of one of Massive's competitors in the market, such as Double Fusion.

The WSJ report suggests that Microsoft's acquisition is part of a much wider strategy tied to online gaming and entertainment, eventually linking Massive's ad network with its own ad-brokering service, AdCenter, which will provide a similar service to Google by linking online ads to search results. With the growing publisher partners in Massive's ad network, a substantial increase in dynamic in-game ads for titles on the Xbox 360 could also be in the pipeline.

The WSJ reports: "The software giant plans to tie its brokering service with Massive's network, said people familiar with the company's plan. Microsoft's long-term goal is to have one online service that advertisers can go to buy ads across a broad range of Microsoft products. That vision may take time to realize, said a person familiar with the company's plans. For now the Massive network will be part of a palette of advertising offerings Microsoft salesmen will offer clients, the person said."

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