Ads Taken, Ads Dropped

Beyond The Frontline

BTF #1 : Ads Taken, Ads Dropped

Beyond the Frontline is a regular feature where the staff here get up on the soapbox and put forward an idea or idea relating to Halo. Each BTF is a talking point designed to start a dialogue and unlike our regular word blasts and articles, the entries are short and sweet.
If you agree or disagree with any of the points raised we strongly encourage you to reply in the comments and be part of the conversation!
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The recent Deus Ex ads “controversy” got me thinking about the situation. If you don’t know what’s up with what happened there’s a large thread on NeoGAF with details here. The short version, adverts were introduced into the game a few weeks after the game shipped. The ads can only be found in the loading screens but not every loading screen will show them. They aren’t interactive – just a static image at the corner of the screen.

Fans didn't ask for that!

I don’t think anyone really has a problem with adverts within video games but I think Eidos made two critical mistakes here.

Firstly the advertisement introduced after the game had launched. I have finished the game multiple times and did so before these ads started appearing. I’ll definitely go back to Deus Ex at some point in the future but right now I’m done with the game. These adverts missed by eyeball time and I haven’t had to see them at all.

Introducing them after the game was out for a while made some folks think they were being duped. Like a bait and switch. Nobody but Eidos even knew about them until they started appearing. If Eidos had been upfront about them, maybe even before the game came out, then the reaction from folks wouldn’t have been as harsh as it is.

As you can see these ad in question is for Star Wars on Blu-Ray, a brand new release arriving in shops now. It has nothing to do with Deus Ex at all. There’s a massive disconnect between it and the game itself. It seems as if the advertisers here are hoping that Deus Ex players are Star Wars fans and need a gentle reminder about the release. Not all players are going to be Star Wars fans to some players they may as well be advertising kitchen appliances or soft drinks for all they care.

If the adverts were more relevant, then maybe the audience wouldn’t be annoyed about them. Then again maybe Deus Ex isn’t best suited, as there isn’t much else in terms of the franchise itself that they could advertise.

This brings me back to Halo. I think adverts would fit well into the game if they learned carefully from the Deus Ex example.

Just like in Deus Ex, the adverts should be discreet and not-intrusive. Right now some players are complaining about ongoing “reminders” to purchase Halo Reach DLC every time they fire up the game for some online multiplayer. This “reminder” is a full screen dialogue box that must be closed by the player. It’s not quite discreet and it’s very intrusive.

I think the best place for adverts would be during the waiting time between matches. This is essentially dead time for every Halo player. There’s nothing to do but stare at screen. Some players check the previous game’s stats, others look at challenges, commendation and other information or browse the Armour but I suspect the vast majority of players simply just stare at the screen whilst talking to the buddies. A perfect captive audience.

Halo is vast and there’s always something new going on and something coming out for folks to buy. Whether it’s new Avatar items or DLC, there’s always something to advertise and sell. All of this is very relevant to Halo players.

A Mock Up of Ads in Reach

Non-intrusive and relevant, specifically targeted to the active Halo player base and grabbing the attention of a captive audience. No more complaint about forceful reminders. In the example I’ve used what I think is the best available screen real estate. The current fancy “loading” image was nice to look at for the first few games but after that it’s ignored. Sticking an advert in there is the best choice for my example. I do think the ad should be a little smaller than my example but just a bit so that it doesn’t clash too much with the playlist image.

When you’re searching for a match or in a party, you don’t want to separated from your buddies. That’s the one obvious drawback in my idea here. The advert would have to be static and non-interactive otherwise the player risks being taken away from an active gameplay session without realising it. Maybe there’s ways around that, maybe not.

So what do you guys think? Adverts will continue to appear in games in future, so I think it’s best to have a framework in place that minimises disruption to the players and maybe even helps the advertises sell their product better. If you Halo was to have (more) adverts in future, how would you like to see it handled?

Slightly Live

Do you agree or disagree with us? Tell us what you think below in the comments. Feel free to check out older BTF entries here.

8 Comments

  1. Dwayne515
    September 18, 2011
    Reply

    I’d rather not have to put up with adverts in games at all, it ruins the experience for me

    • September 18, 2011
      Reply

      I honestly do not like ads too but we already have them in Reach and, if anything, we’ll see more in future.

  2. September 18, 2011
    Reply

    I agree with Dwayne515. I would rather not see them at all, but if we HAVE to see them, I would rather it be in a discreet location that won’t interfere with whatever I am doing.

    An example would be having a billboard in Splinter Cell that had an advertisement for AXE on it. It wasn’t in my face, it was in a place I would EXPECT an Ad to be placed, and it made the game feel a little more realistic.

    However, this approach would not work in EVERY game. Each needs to be handle specificly and carefully. Players are hit by advertisments constantly on a daily bases and most are ignored for good reasons. If I can’t easily ignore an ad, it should never be in a video game.

    ~Hyokin

  3. dfuchs
    September 18, 2011
    Reply

    I think that as you’ve pointed out, only Halo-specific ads would make a whole lot of sense–but the ecosystem is large and diffuse enough that those ads wouldn’t be too imposing too.

    While I prefer ad-free experiences, I think you’ve pinpointed the best possible option.

  4. September 20, 2011
    Reply

    I think that ads that fit the universe are a good idea. Like in racing games to see ads when you purchase a set of new tires you will see all the ads, which makes the game more realistic.

    However i’m not sure how you would get away with it in Halo. Since the universe is 500 years in the future it would be hard to stretch the idea that we would have the same products now.

    With that said. Some staples like Coke or Pepsi could be worked in with futuristic adaptations of their logos. I do like ads when they are helpful, or add to the universe. BUt it needs to be done as carefully as product placement.

    • September 20, 2011
      Reply

      I’m not Halo would be suitable for in-game advertising as so much of the universe has already been designed with fictional companies and products already. A real life product would only serve to ruin the immersion that a totally fiction universe like Halo delivers.

  5. September 22, 2011
    Reply

    I think if I’ve paid $100 NZ for a game, I shouldn’t have to have to suffer any advertising!! Reminders to let me know some DLC is available are fine, long as they don’t hound me for some MS points!

  6. Yasir
    October 2, 2011
    Reply

    You know what it would be okay if there are adverts. Maybe sometime inside the game. For example on posters there are adverts. Or on the warthog something good.
    Also it would be okay if there are adverts in between menu’s mainly things that you are intrested in. Something noticeable but wont hinder gameplay something like the above example

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