I Don’t Care How “Thoughtfully Placed” It Is, Keep Ads Out Of Video Games

The Industrial Revolution and its consequences.

Story Highlights

  • EA trying to implement in-game ads in their AAA titles, again, has sparked controversy.
  • It’s created a rift between those who value profitability and those who prioritize player experience.
  • Studios like EA need to learn to prioritize the gaming community over lining their own wallets.

The integration of advertising within gameplay experiences has become a serious issue in the ever-evolving gaming landscape. Electronic Arts (EA), a major player in the industry, has recently reignited this debate by openly considering the implementation of in-game ads in its AAA titles. This move has sparked concerns among gamers, raising questions about the future direction of the industry.

EA Boss Andrew Wilson Thinks Putting Ads In Games Will Be Meaningful
EA Boss Andrew Wilson Thinks Putting Ads In Games Will Be Meaningful | Source Axios

A Clash Of Priorities

The clash between profitability and player experience is at the core of this debate. EA sees in-game advertising as a way to boost profits, but many gamers (rightfully so) see it as an annoying interruption that ruins their gaming fun. This shows the tough balancing act game developers face in today’s highly commercialized industry. Developing games is expensive, especially big-budget ones like AAA titles.

It’s no surprise that they require a lot of time, money, and effort. In-game ads provide developers with a way to make more money to cover these high costs and keep their projects financially viable. However, they have to think about how these ads might affect players’ enjoyment. Too many ads can end up annoying players instead, and make them feel like their gaming experience is being invaded.  

Lessons From The Past

Looking back at the history of in-game advertising, we see numerous examples of ads gone wrong. EA, for instance, made a misstep when they tried to integrate full-screen ads for The Boys into UFC 4, leading to widespread player outrage. This incident highlights the dangers of prioritizing making money over ensuring a good experience for players.

In today’s world, where people are quick to speak out on social media and call out companies for their mistakes, the consequences of bad decisions can be severe. Just take a look at the flak Sony caught for forcing Helldivers 2 players to have PSN accounts. A poorly executed campaign can lead to a lot of negative attention and damage a company’s reputation. And in an industry that relies on the loyalty and support of its players, that’s something no company can afford.

EA decided to add full-on commercials in the middle of gameplay in a $60 game a month after it’s release so it wasn’t talked about in reviews
byu/Ydino inassholedesign

Can EA Deliver On The Promise of “Thoughtful Implementation”?

EA has promised to be more careful with how they implement in-game advertising following criticism. CEO Andrew Wilson says they want to do it in a way that makes the gaming experience better, not worse. While this sounds good, some gamers aren’t convinced. They’ve heard promises like this before from big companies and worry that it’s just talk.

The real challenge for EA, and other game makers, is finding the right balance between making money and keeping players happy. To do this, they need to really understand what players want and where they draw the line when it comes to ads. It means being honest, caring about how players feel, and genuinely putting the gaming community first, even if it means they might not make as much money right away.

We’ll be very thoughtful as we move into that, but we have teams internally in the company right now looking at how do we do very thoughtful implementations inside of our game experiences. But more importantly, as we start to build community and harness the power of community beyond the bounds of our games, how do we think about advertising as a growth driver in those types of experiences?” – Andrew Wilson

The Evolution Of Advertising

Advertising methods have evolved alongside the industry. What started with simple static billboards within virtual game worlds has now advanced to something Wilson calls “dynamic ad insertion”. Here, ads change based on how players behave and what they like. Basically how Instagram shows you ads based on your data.

While industry heads see this as a natural step forward, others worry it could infringe on player freedom and privacy.

DAI marks a shift towards personalized advertising in games. Using fancy technology like data analysis and machine learning, developers can now show ads that match each player’s interests. But, this level of personalization brings up important questions about privacy and consent. I’m not exactly comfortable knowing that my gaming habits are being tracked and used to sell me stuff. Wasn’t gaming supposed to be an escape?

The Dynamic Ad Insertion Process
The Dynamic Ad Insertion Process | Source: Google

Charting A Path Forward

As game developers like EA move forward with in-game advertising, they need to remember how important player trust and happiness are. While trying out new ideas is good, they have to make sure they’re always fair, open, and respectful to players. I know that doesn’t sound like that big of a request, but it looks like the industry doesn’t exactly match our sentiments.

It’s easy to get caught up in making money, but developers should never forget that players are what make the gaming world go round. Without their love for games, the whole industry wouldn’t exist. So, it’s up to studios to really listen to what players have to say, talk to them, and work together to make games that make life better, not worse.

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Saif is a seasoned video game journalist who works for eXputer. His passion for gaming was nurtured by playing on arcade emulators since his early childhood. Specializing in writing opinion pieces, he dives into the intricacies of the latest titles, the gaming industry, and the wider community. A sucker for good storytelling and a love for immersive worlds, Saif eagerly explores the latest releases while turning his thoughts into engaging and entertaining articles. Writes Opinion Pieces at eXputer || Education: Bachelors in Psychology.

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