Report: Microsoft to buy Massive

<i>Wall Street Journal</i> says software giant picking up major player in emerging in-game advertising market.

If there's a trend analysts have pegged for rapid growth in the gaming industry's near future, chances are Microsoft has a stake in it. The Xbox 360's Xbox Live Marketplace is putting digital distribution and micropayments into action, and according to a new report, Microsoft is looking to buy into the emerging in-game advertising market to the tune of a few hundred million dollars.

The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) is reporting today that Microsoft plans to acquire Massive Inc., with sources pegging the price tag on the deal somewhere between $200 million and $400 million.

Massive's consistently expanding client list includes NCsoft, Atari, Eidos, Konami, Codemasters, Vivendi, THQ, 2K Sports, Spark Unlimited, Acclaim, Ubisoft, and most interestingly, Sony Online Entertainment. Currently, Massive provides in-game ads for SOE's The Matrix Online and PlanetSide.

But even if the acquisition becomes a reality, don't expect to see Halo 3 ads in SOE games anytime soon. SOE PR director Chris Kramer told GameSpot that the company has approval control over every ad served in its games. "As far as we are concerned right now, it's business as usual for both the Matrix Online and PlanetSide," Kramer said.

In-game advertising is clearly poised to grow in the coming years, but there's debate over just how rapid that growth will be. Earlier this month, Massive's own CEO pegged the market at $1.8 billion by the end of the decade, while the managing director of The Wall Street Transcript showed even more enthusiasm in January by projecting the market to reach $4 billion by the end of 2008.

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61 comments
ashlyantony
ashlyantony

There goes another...expanding organisation that will be headed by Microsoft. What is Microsoft doing trying to eliminate competition in every industry they have a foot hold in... I just don't get it.... it's always acquisitions for Microsoft.. Bet they have heaps of Cash to care..

lsmiley
lsmiley

Perhaps this goes hand-in-hand with the rumors from the Spanish website about Xbox Live being free due to advertising dollars.

qiwihead
qiwihead

Oh, I forgot the biggest misconception about in-game ads, namely, that they will reduce the price of games. This will not happen. Even game publishers and ad companies like Massive have never said that ads would lower retail prices. Games won't be cheaper, Xbox Live won't be cheaper. The extra money from ads goes to the publishers and the ad agencies, it's as simple as that. So we get crappy ads compromising or even ruining the immersiveness of our games, and we get to pay more for the game, and the game publishers make even more money. Sure sounds like a good deal for gamers, doesn't it?

qiwihead
qiwihead

Apparently the people who keep saying "Stop complaining about ads in games, there are ads in real life" have never played a game with ads. Check out Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory and tell me just how realistic it is that every single computer in the entire game has a "The Longest Yard" screensaver. How exactly is that realistic? Does everyone in your office have the same screensaver? Beyond that, does everyone in your office leave their computers on all night, so Sam Fisher can mess with them when he breaks in? I will concede that ads in sports games make sense, because ads are all over real-world stadiums. And I can handle a Coke machine in a cafeteria. The problem is that only one or two advertisers will place ads in any given game. This makes for an unrealistic experience where the only billboard ads you see are for Axe or Dodge trucks. Is that realistic? Is there only one company that has billboard ads in your city? I kinda doubt it.

Nawras
Nawras

EA is monopolizing the industry. It's becoming the videogame industry's "Microsoft"

chrisdojo
chrisdojo

seems like a bad buy to me. but taking away from sony is always a good thing.

Rtisan
Rtisan

That's a good way to spend a few hundred million dollars..:wink:

gibb1
gibb1

Hummm, don't care.hehe

metdevthegamer
metdevthegamer

Big surprise there, another video game-related buyout from M$.

Igiss
Igiss

People will get used to ads in games. That's inevitable, however sad it is, like TV advertising. They just want to get money from everything they can get money from.

joyer
joyer

chi ching... yay more crap... saturation marketing youve got to love its evilness

ghostadv
ghostadv

If it's as bad as EA handles in game ads, I'll pass

soulknight63133
soulknight63133

I've seen similar type ads on gaming demo discs, at least if gives you the option to click the ad only if you're interested in knowing about it. I think these type of ads are going to go a step further. Can you imagine getting bombarded by ads between loading and load time when first inserting your gaming disc?

acesion
acesion

I dont see anything eventful that will effect anyone. I personaly like adds as long as they fit the game if its futuristic make it seem futuristic but i dont want to see big bill boards for games like EA does.

ONI5
ONI5

Hopefully this will mean that Live will cost less in the future or possibly be free.

SavoyPrime
SavoyPrime

I will only welcome this if it leads to cheaper game prices.

Cheeseboy90
Cheeseboy90

I don't mind them in sport games and modern themed worlds, but keep them away from Past themed worlds (WWII, Medieval , Western, etc.)! That's all we are saying!

thatguytony
thatguytony

Stop complaining about in-game advertising. While I don't want it thrown into game worlds where it wont make sense, it does fit in games based in the real world. Take a walk around any major city and you see advertising everywhere. Turn on the t.v. or go to a sporting event and ads are everywhere. Its reality people, so just deal with it.

lonewolf_dx
lonewolf_dx

Advertising in xbox live is ok....but please dont let advertising be in the games we play!...Dont want to have to go through a Burger KIng or McDonalds commercial when i pop in a game...hell no!...I dont watch much tv why?...'cuz of all the dumb commercials... but as some previously mentioned. IF it does bring down the price of games then yeah go for it...but IF It doesn't then please dont let the games we play be tainted with advertisements

dusteater
dusteater

That's how WWE won over WCW. Vince Mcmahon bought them out.

dusteater
dusteater

Why don't they buy sony or Nintendo instead? If they do, they win the console war. I'm sure Bill Gates has enough money.

ALWAYSBIGDADDY
ALWAYSBIGDADDY

$soft probaly wont stop there. They have deep pockets and are finding ways to make more and more money. Dont be suprise if they buy they way to next gen victory.

Dups79
Dups79

It all depends on what type of game you are playing. Obviously, if you are playing a role player fantasy game you will not be slaying the McDragon in the cave of infinite fries. However, playing a racing game in the city and seeing advertisements of real companies could add some level of realism. Makes you feel like you are driving in a real city. Like someone said previously. IF and that's a big IF the advertisement were to bring down the price of the games I'd be all for it. However, I doubt they do that.

Oni
Oni

It's think like "Oh in-game ads don't hurt anything" is the reason why the on-line gaming future looks grim. It's that kind of thinking these companies look for .. you make more and more ads possible, thanks for your support.

mezonesxbox
mezonesxbox

They could either: A. Have advertisements in game settings like in Cities. Which is OK! B. Or have 24Hr fitness advertisements in a Halo 3 world which would ruin the whole experience. If its done correctly like in buildings and stuff its ok, but if they make it intrusive like pop-ups they will totally ruin video games. NO POP UPS! OK MSFT!!!

Narroo
Narroo

MicroSoft is starting to make me Nervous...There is their personal marking tactics, like Halo 3 to come out with the PS3...And they have been buying out smaller companies....I think they're going for Another Monopoly. There're much more aggressive then Sony is now and they usually don't cater to anyone's gaming tastes, except FPS, which I don't like. They seem to be doing something called Vertical Intergration. Look it up in your history books, its how many millionaires like Andrew Carnige acquired monopolies. Buying out the developers and such, increasing their power, and lessoning what can be on other systems. Call me crazy, noob, paranoid, and not even talking about the topic, but This is what I think. Please MS, dont kill the other systems. Competition inspires innovation, you would ruin most of the gaming economy if you killed the Playstaion line, and Nintendo.

gametester1424
gametester1424

One area that I see this move effecting us in a negative way is the lack of free and advertisement free content on the Marketplace. I got all excited the other day when I learned that there was some new content for Burnout, then I looked at the what it was and sure enough, it was just a bunch of new cars with blatant advertisements plastered all over them. I don't care if it's a free download, I'll be damned if i'm going to look at and race an advertisement down the street in that game. I stopped watching tv a couple years back because I was so sick of commercials and now I have to put up with it in the form of entertainment that I chose as tv's replacement. I guess the only way to escape stupid marketing types is to go back to reading a book. Even then, i'm sure they would find a way to get to us there as well.

Tomtomtom1990
Tomtomtom1990

This is a preclude to a free, ad-enabled Xbox Live. Sweet.

smviel
smviel

the price of the games better come down with this move. Who wants to pay for a game that has marketed itself and made its' money even before it hits the shelves?

madgamer2000
madgamer2000

im all for it, if it brings the cost of systems and games back down. 60$ for games kind of sucks and reminds me of the snes era when games could be 70$. I guess i got used to 40$ games on ps2 or something.

butkis689
butkis689

ads in games are okay, but do they reallly help sales that much to buy a 200-400 million dollar company?

phsknight
phsknight

Hey maybe we will even be able to steal a coke truck in the next GTA lol.

blackIceJoe
blackIceJoe

It will not be that bad.I like ads they can make the games seam more fun.But if I am to see a ad that says try Coke when waiting for the game to load I will be mad. But in Racing games they can be ok like seeing a billboard that says Pepsi is better then Coke I am ok with. Because you are going real fast and do not have time to look at them. Plus gives the makers of the game more money so they can use the money to add more stuff to the game.

Thanos_of_MW
Thanos_of_MW

Hah! Good luck thinking that games will go down in price BECAUSE of advertisement. Ads will be there for EXTRA profit, not to subsidize the cost of games. I hate ads and I won't be buying games that obviously push them in your face and are out of context with the game (I might tolerate the occasional "cityscape" type ad)

vaejas
vaejas

These headlines write themselves. "Microsoft gets Massive" and next month, "Microsoft grows more Massive". Ugh. It seems to me we already are paying a little more for games without advertising. It's like shrinking the size of chocolate bars... stave off price inflation by reducing content.

Brokendemise
Brokendemise

I don't get why people are all like "Bad advertising, bad!" because it hasn't harmed anything. It's not like its going to be some big billboard in the middle of the game (unless it's like, a real-esque game a.k.a. GTA, then its okay), they're only going to do it in small doses for people who like to just going around and explore and find little secret places. It may help lower the prices, but then again it might be that live gives more money in their pockets than Advertising and Subliminal messages. I mainly agree with Sydwynder.

abdu4
abdu4

IF they do that I think Live might be cheaper

Sydwynder
Sydwynder

It could very easily get out of hand. I know that while watching movies some product placements are so freakin obvious that they really take away from the movie to the point of not even remembering what the characters on screen were talking about because of the big Pepsi can they are holding at just the right angle. However, logical in game placement of ads, such as the Dodge billboards in GRAW because they are in a city and cities have billboards- no problem with that. I seriously doubt this would reduce the cost of the games though. Game makers would be lining their pockets.

internetmovies
internetmovies

Well battle.net was a little different it just had like a internet banner on the top which wasn't that annoying because with blizzard games I spend about 2 seconds in the chat rooms haha....but no I think he's more leaning towards the actual advertisements in a single player game...which game was in Need for speed underground 2 I think is the one that had Cingular based layout which quite honestly made me not play the game I returned it that same day...I really don't want to see advertisement's in my games i'm trying to play I can understand putting them in a battle.net type system or online chatroom that is fine but in the actual gameplay itself is quite ridiculous.

grayoldwolf
grayoldwolf

I don't have a problem with advertising so long as it makes sense in the context of the game. For example, having Coke machines instead of the generic soda machines in Half Life. Subtle, but definitely there. Big posters for Coke in Oblivion? Doesn't make sense, and would be obtrusive, ruining the immersive feel of the game.

Buck_Hotep
Buck_Hotep

Whether a client has final say in what can be advertised in-game for their titles (SOE being one), in the end Microsoft reaps the financial benefit. Sony may only allow certain types of ads (non-MS ads) in-game but they will still end up paying MS for using the service.

DarkPassion
DarkPassion

XBL is about to get alot of advertising.

brad_d
brad_d

superbrett2000, I doubt they would release two versions of the game. A reduced-price version with advertisements only. In a possible scenario, they wouldn't reduce the price of the game at all. GRAW for 360 has Nokia ads and a Dodge Magnum ad, seems to make the game more lifelike, as it was in a cityscape. That's perfectly acceptable (but still $60), but seeing the Master Chief ducking behind cover of a 2500-era Toyota Corolla billboard from Covenant fire might be a little distracting. =S

ki11b0y
ki11b0y

there has been advertising in games sinces the days of the amiga. it won't destroy games cos it will only be in a game where it fits. we're not gonna see link running around in converse. blatant advertising for airwaves was all over the place in splinter cell 3 and it didn't stop the game being awesome. a few nokia billboards in ghost recon and tony hawk's ps aren't going to stop anyone from enjoying the game. also i'm sick of people suggesting that they release a non advertising version of each game. the game only exists because of the advertising so it has to be in every version of the game. if you want a non advertising version of the game then i hope you're prepared to pay 1000's of pounds/dollars for said game.