Gearbox defends in-game ads

Studio president Randy Pitchford insists the company won't turn Brothers-in-Arms into a commercial battlefield.

Earlier this week, developer Gearbox and in-game ad firm Double Fusion announced a partnership to explore advertising opportunities for the studio's upcoming games. While reader reaction wasn't entirely negative, there was no shortage of such sentiments as, "Ads have no place in games, period," or, "In-game advertising's victories are gamers' losses in the long run."

Concerned by the response to the announcement, Gearbox president Randy Pitchford today posted a blog entry addressing the company's approach to in-game advertising and assuring players that it would not be allowed to detract from upcoming projects.

"The smart and successful advertisers' goal is for you to trust and respect them," Pitchford wrote. "If their ads invade or injure our entertainment, we get angry and reject them. If, however, something feels natural and unintrusive, they get the value they were looking for...So, please don't judge us by the fact that some folks out there do it wrong and with exploitation as their key driving factor. This is not our motivation or intent. Don't judge us based on fears that may not turn out to be true."

Pitchford said that Gearbox hasn't committed to in-game advertising for any of its upcoming titles and that the deal will only allow Double Fusion to contact the studio with proposals. Furthermore, he said any possible deal would need to benefit the game, whether through increased authenticity (like vintage corporate logos on historically accurate factories in Brothers-in-Arms), increased budgets to make better games, or out-of-game promotion, such as the Halo-themed Mountain Dew flavor.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Did you enjoy this article?

Sign In to Upvote

319 comments
aarow82
aarow82

They aren't forced to put ads in the games, they are contacted about proposals for putting them in. Also it helps, as stated in the article, that for historic ads Double Fusion can help out. Plus ads in game do fit sometimes, e.g. billboards on the side of the road just like in real life. Plus it gives us somehting else to shoot at in a game. :)

taxman25
taxman25

I don't have a problem with in game ads as long as they are realistic to the game. We have to remember that these companies are in business to make money. If they don't make money they go out of business and can't produce any more games. For instance say a game takes 8 months to make. You have to pay the development team(even if you only have 5 people the average salary is $40,000-$80,000/yr depending on experience),advertising the game,printing the game,shipping it to stores. How many copies would they have to sell just to break even on the cost for that game.

division_9
division_9

As long as they dont force you to look at an advertisement for about 5 seconds like GameSpot then its just fine. And besides, one who hates in game billboards does not realise the value of money. Ads = Money, More Money = More content(in most canses) and More Content = More Quality(in most cases).

bfme2_master
bfme2_master

martianrobot: do you know how worthless the deutschmark was at that time? at one point it was 19.8 trillion marks to 1 dollar. thats like giving a hobo some change automatically makes you guys best friends. wtf

joe_ender
joe_ender

in game adds are the worst not only do they get my money for the game but someone pays them more when i play, bs, also the hitman adds in R6V for hit man made me want to hurt myself

WizengamotX
WizengamotX

If Gearbox was truely into defending itself, it would allow us the courtesy by posting some in-game screenshots or including some advertisements in a gameplay video or demo. Gamers need to see how the logos are going to fit in with the surroundings just as much as they need to see realistic surroundings. Advertising has the potential to make games more realistic, i.e. Michelin in a racing game speedway billboard, Coca-Cola billboard in a WWII game, etc. As long as it isn't too frequent and there are a variety of companies, it would be fine. I just don't want to see a Nike advertisement in Halo 4 or a Disney logo in Assassin's Creed 2, especially if the promotions are limited to one to three companies and are shown frequently. There is nothing more annoying than the same logo every turn.

martianrobot
martianrobot

----------------- MarShionnach: Sure, I can see it now. "Help the war effort, buy the new Ford Fusion and stop the Axis in it's tracks!" --------------------- LOL! Not only would this ad be an anachronism, but it would be highly innacurate, considering the mutual admiration Henry Ford & Adolf Hitler had for each other. Did you know Henry Ford made Hitler birthday gifts of 50,000 marks? More here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2005/may/10/foreignpolicy.usa

martianrobot
martianrobot

In-game advertising is nothing new - anybody remember that full-priced Amiga game that was basically a Quavers advert? However, that doesn't mean that it doesn't suck. In-game advertising is as bad as product placement in films and TV. My least favourite example is the rooftop 'tears in the rain' scene in Bladerunner. The best scene of the film reduced to a commercial for TDK. Shocking. To be honest, I'm quite surprised that people will accept it in sports games, because it makes it seem more 'authentic'. I think the amount of advertising is sports coverage is absolutely appalling... all those logos plastered on everything is just memetic pollution. The last time I watched a footie match I had to turn it off as all the animated adverttising on the pitch-side ad boards made me feel ill. For games publishers to say that it will make games better by bringing in more money is absolute piffle... it just boosts their profits. Surely the fact that we are paying £39.99+ for a single game means that it should be free of any kind of sales pitch. This sort of advertising pollutes our cultural environment and our personal mindspace. Just say no, kids!

Jimmyjit
Jimmyjit

If, and only if they used AD's from that era, like say...a coke ad from 1942 on a building that was blown up and missing half the ad that would add to the experiance. But Adding "Watch Flavor Flav " this Fall while walking in France on a mission-- someone needs to be scolded.

harrygordon1000
harrygordon1000

I think being marketed to whilst you're immersed in a game can really damage the atmosphere - I mean, nothing kills the post-apocalyptic-war ambiance quite like a giant Sure deodorant ad plastered across the side of a building ;) (my first experience of in-game ads). Maybe they're better off on the loading screen? Can you imagine trekking through Azeroth and encountering a Pepsi Max bill board inside the Chamber of Sorrow? I can understand the wish of gamers to reduce the price of games but it really isn't worth it...

MarShionnach
MarShionnach

Sure, I can see it now. "Help the war effort, buy the new Ford Fusion and stop the Axis in it's tracks!" That "We can make better games because of the increased economic stimuli" is a bunch of garbage. The only way you'll see profits from those ads increase production potential in games is if you happen to go play Marco Polo in Pitchford's new pool.

pidow
pidow

Keep the ads for TV, radio, etc., not in the games I select to play. I purchased the game to play not see ads for things I will never buy.

gamegoliath
gamegoliath

I just don't want to see a bunch of ads where they shouldn't be or repeated everywhere in a game, so it doesn't seem real or believable. But if you are walking by a store or something, you would see ads in real life, so why not? Or on the highway or TV. Blend it well, and don't make it look so obvious that all you are trying to do is take my money, and I won't mind. Actually I think it's pretty cool, as long as it is giving more to us gamers and not just adding cash to other peoples pockets. I just don't want to see the same damn ad a hundred times every time I play a game for 15 minutes. Think about it - if it works - maybe we'll start seeing better done games since the company's could get money for putting other peoples ads in the game, and if the game was good they could make it even better. I support in-game ads, just please do it right.

Cabal23
Cabal23

The saddest thing is gamers are probably the most informed group of consumers. We live and breath advertising on computers and on tv. But I have always wondered who is it that buys products based on adverts? I mean take tampons for example. Don't women already know what tampons they like? Is adevrtising really going to sway them? Food is different. There have times when my wife and I have been watching tv and seen a Taco Bell ad and went....mmm I'm hungry now for TB. But gaming? You are playing a game, your mind is not taking the time to process adverts. I say let they advertise all they want. Just keep it out of games that it doesn't make sense in. Oh wait I have to pause my game and go buy hitman on blu-ray. Sounds like a buch of high paid execs trying to hold onto their jobs by coming up with the hippest advertisings.

runninman
runninman

I agree with all of this as well An example of an out-of-place ad happened to me recently. I was playing Double Agent over Live, and while I was running around a level, I saw this massive ad for the Hitman DVD telling me how I should buy it on Blu-Ray NOW! I say as others are: If it reduces the cost of the game and ISN'T out of place, I'm all for it

starfoxmcleoud
starfoxmcleoud

Completely agree with you Cabal23! It might be cool to have some things like a Burger King billboard or a Gilette razor van in Burnout Paradise. But when you start putting things ilke that in Brothers in Arms, that's where it goes beyond retarted! There's a place for advertising, and there's a place not for it. Some video games it blends in with, others it's merely a distraction. And if the corporate world is that desperate, then they need to turn to other methods of advertising. As for the Mt Dew Game Fuel (the Halo themed Mountain Dew flavor), BRING IT BACK!!!!!!!!!!

Cabal23
Cabal23

Buying things because they are in a game is silly. What are you lemmings? When is the last time you bought a product because it was in a game?

Cabal23
Cabal23

Has any gamer felt compelled to buy a product based on in-game ads? I think not.

nickelarcade
nickelarcade

if we keep buying games with in game ads, snake will eventually snap into a slim jim

vicsrealms
vicsrealms

Sports games sure, as most stadiums advertise on billboards and the like. In a game I actually play (I obviously don't play sports games), no. The only advertising I should see is at the beginning of the game for nVidia or ATI, and the companies who had a hand in making the game. If I want to see advertising, I'll watch TV (which I stopped doing long ago).

gifteddie
gifteddie

In-game advertising dosn't bother me unless it would be something like "Oh my god Gordon Freeman the Combine are coming brought to by Pepsi!"

Kakua_Omari
Kakua_Omari

I can see in like a racing game or like madden or something, but if I'm playing a non sports game I don't wanna see them.

DearestApollo
DearestApollo

personally i don't like in game advertising at all. it always looks out of place no matter how hard they try to integrate it with the look of the game. if you're going to put commercials in my game, the game better be free. i doubt anyone wants to pay for product placement with a plot.

Onelinedrawing
Onelinedrawing

Unless it's a sports game, i have a problem. Ubisoft does it with R6 Vegas and it still pisses me off. They look extremely out of place next to many of the fictional in game adds that blend in with the background. Not only that, every game that contains actual adds requires an update patch that does nothing but download new adds and waste my time. In order to justify adds, it would need to be extremely natrual in it's enviorment, lower the overall price of the game, or contribute to usefull updates and additions. Otherwise it's simplly another way to make money at the expense of the gamer.

raymondcs123
raymondcs123

Well I simply can't blame Gearbox for doing this. The BiA series, though with high ratings but still not getting the attention it's supposed to get, I bet Gearbox took a big blow from this and with the 2 year delays of BiA3, I guess they need a backup plan.

LordLonewolf777
LordLonewolf777

I dont want ads in games, not because I hate ads, just because it will evolve and we'll end up having to sit through a 2min add at the start of every lvl or stage. And THAT is what is going to happen if ads gets put into gaming. LEAVE THE DAMN GAMES ALONE, U ADD JUNKIES!

H-A-V-O-K
H-A-V-O-K

This whole topic is startin to make me sick. Jason_Morris you forgot the Alienware Billboards

Jason_Morris
Jason_Morris

"Obviously advertisements have no place in Brothers in Arms as 1944, especially in Holland, was a time almost devoid of advertising." ...well, apart from those huge billboards advertising Nokia phone ringtone downloads...

snakesalad1
snakesalad1

as long as the game costs less and does not interfere, im cool with it

ChestyMcGee
ChestyMcGee

If done tastefully, there's nothing wrong with in-game ads. For example, the ads in Rainbow Six: Vegas are just fine because they're on billboards - like real life. Another example is the billboard advertising in Burnout Paradise. It gets distastful when the adverts are thrown in your face, R6V as an example, has an inter-mission section in a helicopter in which the helicopter flies past five huge Axe (or Lynx) billboards. Similarily, in Burnout Paradise the vans in the game all have Gillette written on them in huge letters. Obviously advertisements have no place in Brothers in Arms as 1944, especially in Holland, was a time almost devoid of advertising.

Rect_Pola
Rect_Pola

"The smart and successful advertisers' goal is for you to trust and respect them," When has that EVER been a conviction? They care about repetiition until it's in your sleep. Why work to cleverly appeal to you, when they make drill a cheap message until you buy it subconsiously. If they really gave half a care about our experience they'd make a point to reduce the amount of advertising we get bombarded with so fewer, stronger ads would appeal to us. That's the way it has been for TV, and if advertisers really got their way, that's the way it will be in games. Don't get me wrong, I find no fault in making seamless or indirect out-of-game ads, but I know exactly where advertisers will take it. First they'll pay a little more to make up for a small breach here and there. Then, they'll steadily make more and more blatant ads, until game dialogue set in an apocolyptic future will read like cheap radio commercials.

DrKill09
DrKill09

They BETTER NOT mess up BIA. That's my favorite WWII series.

swb21
swb21

DO NOT BUY GAMES WITH IN GAME ADS! If we allow it now, it will only get worse.

Spyhunter_101
Spyhunter_101

i would be ok with ads IF THE COST OF GAMES GO DOWN that's the whole point of ads these game makers are getting paid before the game even comes out.

necronaux
necronaux

As long as ads remain part of the scenery (e.g. billboards) I don’t have a problem. They can even been interesting when they’re part of the game (e.g. power-up / health as an energy drink from a vending machine). However, I can see this trend moving towards in-game commercials, and cut-scenes with advertisements, that you won't be able to skip by hitting any button.

Nexum
Nexum

I agree with SjoDawg. Ads don't really bother me; and I think that in some games it's actually interesting.

SjoDawg
SjoDawg

I have been playing video games for over 20 years and there lots of places I would love to see advertisements in games for many different reasons. There are also plenty of places I would hate to see them and am sure they will never show up. LIKE: Sports games, where they are prevalent anyway. In games set in modern day (if the ads are in an appropriate place and there are advertisements for more than one thing, I don’t want to see the same add over and over. Also, it would be nice to be able to destroy some billboards wit ads I hate). Games set in the last 100 years or so (as long as they are relevant to the time period. It would bring me back to my youth if I saw the California Raisins or the Noid trying to get us to go to Hardies or order Dominoes in a game set in the 80s) HATE: Fantasy/role playing games Puzzle games Fighting games. Games set in the real world but in a time where there were no ads, or using adds that are not appropriate for the time period or physically in places you would not find them Sci-Fi (I don’t want Taco Bell to have crushed all its competition like it did in Demolition Man and I’m sure it never will) There are games in which they should never but ads but there are also games where it is appropriate, in moderation. It would be nice if video games were cheaper but, ads or no ads, I don’t think prices will come down. Video games have never really been a cheap form of entertainment. Once something is really in the mass market the price rarely comes down (candy isn’t a nickel like it once was). The profit margin is too low and there will always be inflation, hopefully not as much as their was in the 70s, but it will be there, that is not something EA has much control over.

xodakok_
xodakok_

And what's wrong with Rogers ads? Do you think I want to see ads for Gamestop? There are none of those here.

pigonthewing
pigonthewing

I wouldnt crucify them yet. See what they do with it. Im fine with ads as long as they are done in a realistic way. Vegas had them but they didnt bother me much. Though it was odd to see a Rogers ad in Vegas and Rogers is a Canadian cable company so it had no reason to be there in Vegas. But the movie posters didnt bother me since they seemed to belong. Also i would get a kick out of shooting a terrorist down and a bunch of my missed shots rifled through a Pepsi machine rather than a Cola machine. That actually ads realism to the game(no pun intended).

juggleballz
juggleballz

In his blog he mentioned Toy Story using Mr Potato Head nad in Castaway Tom Hanks worked for FedEx, and due to these couple of examples in-game advertsing should more or less follow suit. Rubbish! In movies I think its perfectly okay to use real life products in the right context. Yes it would be stupid if tom hanks worked for FodOx or something, but this does not mean games should be similar. In video games, when we play them, we are transported into the video game world, so to speak, so we are directly involved in the story and gaming surroundings etc. In other words WE enter the FICTIONAL world and adding ads to these fictional worlds makes them less fictional. In movies though we do not directly affect the outcome of the story or have any involvement whatsoever. Therefore any in movie ads will not spoil the movie, unless they are blatant product placements, used to manipulate and directly advertise to us. I think movies should not by any means try to make up a fake ads or products, because it detracts from the realism. Hostage with Bruce Willis is a perfect example of this. Remember when he is talking to the kid about some computer game called Wuffles or something...cringe worthy. it was so bad it was laughable. Overall I feel movies need to retain some level of realism, and in-movie ads are okay. Games are not restricted in maintaining realism, therefore in-game ads should not really be used. Some in-game ads may go unnoticed if they are not blatant "in your face, look at me, im and ad" ads. Like others have said they need to be used correctly. Look at GH3, it has a LYNX AXE guitar. WTF? Who would buy one in real life if it had that on it. They detracts from the realism. And Burnot Paradise, there are Gillette vans.....I've NEVER seen a real life GILLETTE VAN! Its bullsh!t. Now if they made a shaving game, and used gillette as its product then fine. Its more realistic. In-game ads blow. And because there is so much controversy around tthem, they actually work the opposite of advertising, but more so putting people off.I feel this anyway.

FraserAlexander
FraserAlexander

Ads are in real life - I don't mind if they are within the game world, as in a billboard for example rather than 'cutting for commercial' - that would be unacceptable. But product placement is fine, in fact 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' was one of the first movies to put huge brands in the movie; not for the money but to make it more familiar to an audience rather than drawing attention to itself by inserting fake products that no one knows or identifies with. I'm fine with it as long as I don't have to break the gameplay for it, and that it appears naturally. ex. don't put lcd tv's all over a desert wasteland floor w/ pepsi commercials comming from each one.

klugenbeel
klugenbeel

People should chill, as long as the ads make sense in the game then this is not something bad. Again we have to go to the example of you poppin' in Madden 08 and seeing an ad for "Sprint". Sprint makes sense to be in there since hey, they are partnered with the NFL and if you ever watch a Sunday game on CBS, whos the hafl-time show, Sprint. So that would make senese. Another Ad that makes sense is your playing a racing game or are in a game driving around in a car and you see a Billboard advertising a TV show, or some other product, that makes sense. Now what wouldn't make sense, is your pop in BioShock for the PC/360 and you walk through a corridor and on the wall you see an Ad for Lipator, ok that is bad Ad placement and does not make sense. That is miss using in game advertising, since it has no purpose being there, to the point it even make an eye soar out of the game, thats bad ads in games. Now there are a lot of people concerned out there at companies will do this the wrong way and just put those bad ad designs in the games, Gearbox is a company I would worry a lot less about putting in "Bad Ads", where a company like EA, would NOT surprise me that they put "Bad Ads" in games, since EA doesn't really care much about the consumer as much as they care about making as much money as possible and screwing over whoever they have to.

Beeker1
Beeker1

This is Brothers in Arms not Brothers in Ads

Unkempt_Sock
Unkempt_Sock

HEY!, doesn't anyone remember when a brand new SNES game was SEVENTY G-Damn dollars? With inflation thats close to 100bucks a game now! we should be happy we get this crap for only 60 bucks. so chill out peeps

swb21
swb21

Ads have NO business in video games that we are paying $60 for. These ads serve no purpose other then to put extra money into the already rich pockets of the company's higher-ups. Those who think it may lower the price of the games are fooling themselves, no way will a game price ever be lowered. I don't care how well the ads are implemented, the point is they are ads and they cheapen the game experience regardless of where they are placed. Can you imagine a game like Final Fantasy having in game ads? "This new aeon summon is brought to you by Irish Spring! Leaves you feeling clean as a whistle" That is what video games are going to be like if we don't do something about it right now. DO NOT BUY GAMES WITH IN GAME ADS.

Nomad0404
Nomad0404

Cool Spot and 7up? Zool and Chuppa Chups. It's already happened and been with us for ages - hopefully, though, this will be implemented in a much more integrated fashion. Who knows maybe one day add revenue will lower the cost of software.

Ultraspank
Ultraspank

give them an inch... hey remember when the first commercial popped up at the beginning of a movie in theatres? i remember things like "well its only one 30 second commercial, i can deal with that." now look at it in such little amount of time because it was tolerated

SherlockHolmes1
SherlockHolmes1

I don't mind as long as it doesn't detract from the game at all.