Massive, Inc., a Microsoft advertising subsidiary that already places ads inside all major EA Sports titles, as well as Guitar Hero, will be capitalizing on your Guitar Hero spin-offs this autumn. According to Media Week, the Xbox 360 versions of upcoming Activision titles DJ Hero and Band Hero will be littered with advertisements from sponsors.
While I doubt the ads will be invasive or affect gameplay, there’s something to be said for Microsoft sticking ads in a music game whose music is laced with a “stick it to the man” attitude. Corporate logos — the symbol of capitalism — in the background don’t really match up with the theme of Activision’s music games. And it’s not like the player is seeing a benefit from the extra revenue pulled in from ad sales. Software MSRPs continue to be in excess of $50 in order to make up for the costs of producing hardware. The recent hardware price cuts only give further incentive to keep software prices up.
Despite whether consumers see a benefit or not, in-game ads are for sure a great way to make money, as Massive general manager JJ Richards explains the benefit of going with videogame ads over TV spots this fall, “What many advertisers may not know is this fall (and winter) there [will be] a host of chart toppers that will help them engage the highly coveted male 18-34 demographic in a more efficient and less interruptive manner than traditional TV ads.”
It certainly looks like these types of ads have a future, but I’d be cautious about being too invasive, especially in games where it might turn off the player. Putting ads in sports games that are based off of TV broadcasts with the same type of advertising is one thing. Trying to scrape some extra cash off of more atmospheric game could lead to problems with fans.