Seeing a McDonald’s ad while riding a tank in an epic moment of invincibility can kill the mood in a heartbeat. So if there’s one thing we’d like to crush, that would be in-game advertising. And, as it turns out, giant publisher EA is looking to do the same thing, with proof that microtransactions are not only more lucrative, but a far more reliable source of revenue according to Ben Cousins, the publisher’s general manager for free-to-play.
“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,” said Cousins. “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 touched upon Battlefield Heroes, EA’s popular, cartoon-like free-to-play shooter for PC which has both in-game advertising and microtransactions, explaining, “we hedged our bets, 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.”
While not shooting down the model completely, Cousins added that publishers need to think more creatively in order for it to work, bringing up Battlefield Heroes‘ Dr Pepper campaign as an example.
“I think it’s more about specific deals where you can tie the content in,” he said. “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. 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.”
Battlefield Play4Free without ads? Yes, thank you!