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EA chief questions sanity

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Many video game industry analysts and corporate star-gazers have extravagant hopes for in-game advertising, but a peek into the horse's mouth would indicate otherwise.

According to Electronic Arts chief John Riccitiello, in-game ads currently account for less than one per cent of EA's revenue - and won't become a key source of revenue for some time.

"You can't be as bullish as analysts are on in-game advertising and be sane," Riccitello told Dow Jones Newswire. "In-game ad expectations are wildly high."

This is notable pessimism from a company with a game ad execution sharing the subtlety and tact of your average chainsaw-wielding maniac.

With a flurry of in-game ad start-up purchases in 2006 from notables such as Microsoft, Google and NBC Universal, the sky has become the limit for market ponderers.

Analysts at Yankee Group predicted in-game ad revenue would jump to $971m in three years. Google's game unit predicted a frothingly mad $1bn in as little as two. Perhaps the lowest figure came from Parks Associates, which forecasts $400m revenues in 2009.

But even for EA, the, ah — (how to put this?) painted Jezebel of the industry, in-game ads took in about $30m for the entire year. That's out of $3.1bn in sales during 2007.

Riccitello's solution: the industry needs to make more room to place ads within games. Oh joy.

He also blames the lack of independent auditors that can monitor and verify how many players are exposed to the the punting. But fear not, Riccitello says the industry has moved to rectify this severe lack of monitoring.

Oh Lord, not even tinfoil can save us now. ®

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