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  • Writer's pictureCourt Lalonde

Are In-Game Ads the Future of Gaming?


There is a video of an accidental ad that popped up in a Ubisoft game that has got me thinking. Are we going to see more in-game ads, and if so, what will that look like?

When Tom Warren showed this on X, it sparked outrage and made me think this ad might become the norm. They released a statement today to Eurogamer that says;

"We have been made aware that some players encountered pop-up ads while playing certain Assassin's Creed titles yesterday," a Ubisoft spokesperson said. "This was the result of a technical error that we addressed as soon as we learned of the issue."

I want to start by saying that I don't wish to have ads showing up during my gameplay, but I'm not opposed to them showing up in the menu screen or inserted into the game if it doesn't take away from the emersion.

I'm a hockey fan and have grown accustomed to having ads forced upon me while I watch my sport. I would guess I see more marketing campaigns than I do actual hockey because ads on the boards, ice, intermission, TV time outs, jerseys, helmets, and even the announcers will deliver ads during a stoppage of play.

The whole time I watch my favourite team play, I watch one long ad, but I hardly notice now. I'm not saying that is a good thing, but I still adapted to enjoying my favourite form of entertainment, watching hockey.

I call it entertainment because that is when you boil it down. Video games are no different and are a form of entertainment. I think advertisers have only started to scratch the surface of ads in video games. Sports have been around much longer, but video games are becoming more mainstream and popular daily.

The NBA 2K franchise was hit with backlash in 2019 for having unskippable ads in their game but never communicating them to the players. The following year, they added unskippable ads after launch and were met with the same criticisms.

You would think, with all the backlash, that the makers of NBA 2K would have taken these ads out. No, they did not and have since added them in the version since then, having them so up in pre-game loading screens before playing a game. You could say this gives you the same feel as watching your favourite sports team on TV, but it still feels gross to me.

The makers of NBA 2K made a State Farm ad part of the storyline in career mode, and you could see Jake from State Farm in the game.

Now, Kojima famously had advertising in Death Stranding, which faced backlash then, but the game is still praised as one of the best games to come out in 2019.

death stranding

You even had ads from AMC shows when your character went to the bathroom, but this type of advertising was more product placement, which we have seen in films and sports for years.

Gaming is only in its infancy when you think about it as an entertainment medium. The pandemic helped push gaming more main streaming than ever because people who hadn't played games in years couldn't leave their houses and needed a form of entertainment.

You already had a loyal gamer, but now gaming is viewed differently and has become the world's most prominent revenue-generating form of entertainment. I wouldn't be shocked if, in the future, when you start a side quest, it says brought to you by blank company.

Gaming companies are going to try and test the waters more and more on what people will accept when it comes to advertising in games because games cost money to make.

Ads help bring those costs down, hopefully leading to developers not having to lay off a percentage of their teams repeatedly after the launch of a game. Is it a perfect solution to fixing the industry? Not by a long shot, but I think seeing ads in all games will become more common.

I hope that it will be more in the form of product placement and that the money from these ads will help bring down the costs of game development and, in turn, cause fewer layoffs. I would love to know your thoughts on gaming ads and their role in the future. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section, and add them to the conversation.


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