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Massive lands ad deal with EA Games

Need for Speed, Carbon first to the starter's block

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It didn't take long before Microsoft's ownership of in-game advertising network Massive has opened a few doors and the company has landed its first game deals with gaming giant Electronic Arts Games (EA).

The Xbox and PC versions of four new EA game releases will have Massive software included in them, which means that Massive can serve advertising into relevant gameplay spots inside the game with adverts changing on a daily or even hourly basis, and including video, graphics and text.

But at the same time, Electronic Arts is spreading the advertising workload and has also announced a deal with IGA Worldwide, another in-game ad network, which will serve ads to Battlefield 2142, developed by Dice in Sweden. At least two further EA titles will be built to use ads serving through IGA.

The first game to take advertising from Massive is Need for Speed, Carbon, the newest title from the best-selling Need For Speed franchise, which was developed at EA Black Box in Vancouver, Canada.

EA has sold static ads in the previous versions of its games, but these have the disadvantage of only being able to be sold once and only to one advertiser, and they cannot support subsequent, time-based ad campaigns. The new versions will have both static and dynamic advertising.

The conversion of EA, the highest earning game producer in the world, not counting the games platform companies themselves Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft, means the gaming community has truly accepted in game advertising. Gamers may not all universally be happy with the adverts, but EA must be convinced that it will not put them off buying its games.

The big names that have yet to follow are Sony and Nintendo, neither of which has made a single public move towards building or acquiring an ad serving network. Sony exerts an iron grip on its games, and may be deterring games designers from going down the ad serving route, in an attempt to differentiate its game experience from Microsoft's.

However, it may be that both Sony and Nintendo are listening too intently to the purists in Japan, and are leaving an anticipated move into in-game advertising too late.

"The agreement with Massive is a first step in a detailed strategy for serving advertising in a seamless format that doesn't disrupt game play," EA vice president of online commerce Chip Lange said. "In places like a basketball court, football stadium or roadside in a racing game, advertising is not only nice to have, but it's an essential component to create the fiction of being there.

"This agreement with Massive allows us to vary what relevant ads are served to the game player."

EA posted last year revenue of $2.95bn and has had 27 titles which have sold more than a million copies.

Copyright © 2006, Faultline

Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of the week's events in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here.

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