Double Fusion has been busy lately. Last week, the in-game ad providers became a tool in Gearbox's belt, saying it would provide dynamic and static adverts for unspecified games. Today, Double Fusion said it would be extending its partnership with NCsoft to include the Korea-based publisher's popular superpowered massively multiplayer online game City of Heroes. NCsoft has previously signed Double Fusion to serve ads for free-to-play MMOGs Exteel and Dungeon Runners.
Gamers are understandably touchy about having their favorite real-world escape intruded upon by advertisers. Similar to how Gearbox president Sandy Pitchford handled the dilemma, NCsoft NorCal general manager Brian Clayton addressed what the deal means for gamers on the developer's Web site. First and foremost, Clayton stressed that the in-game ads are optional, and can be switched on or off at the discretion of the end user.
"I want to make it very clear that we are not 'forcing' in-game ads upon our players," said Clayton. "Thus, the word 'optional' is of key importance. None of our players have to change their game experience in any way if that's what they prefer. All that you need to do is opt-out via the Options menu in the game."
As for the ads themselves, Clayton said that they will be contextually relevant and initially only occupy billboards that are already taken up by fictitious advertisements. The first run of adverts are expected to turn up this summer after content update Issue 12, and Clayton said the team will be monitoring how they impact the game. If all goes well, Clayton said NCsoft may explore other ad-serving venues, as well as potentially convert the billboard space to exhibit user-created artwork.
So why should users not opt out? Clayton explains: "All ad revenue dollars go directly to the further development of the game, which means more great content than ever before! As we have made it pretty clear lately, with the acquisition of City of Heroes from Cryptic Studios last November, we are entering a major phase of reinvestment for the game (and brand). Our development costs are ramping up in a major way as we look to literally double the team this year to accommodate big plans for the short, medium and long term."