Hey Pop-Up Ads, Get Outta My Xbox!

By  |  Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Over the weekend, I sacrificed the better portion of one evening to my Fight Night Round 4 addiction. Home alone, playing offline (but connected to Xbox Live) and grinding through match after match, I was confronted with this:

fightnightRIP

Aah!

After a moment of shock, I realized this was an advertisement for the upcoming film The Final Destination, and suddenly Fight Night Round 4 was stumping for it in every available nook and cranny. Each post on the corners of the boxing ring had a number you could text message to enter a movie-related contest, and the floor mat had the name of the film running down the center.

What most offended me was not the ghastly imagery, but the ads that appeared during the boxer recovery phase between rounds. I call them pop-up ads because they make no effort to blend with the game world, as most in-game advertisements do. They’re just plain tacky (by the way, these photos were hastily shot on my iPhone, so my apologies for the quality):

fightnight2

A similar set of pop-ups for Ford appeared in an earlier session, but I had no camera at hand to prove it. Keep in mind that I had already logged countless hours with the game before seeing either of these ads, and that I was playing offline, against the computer, while connected to the Internet.

It’s not clear whether this is happening on the Playstation 3 as well as the Xbox 360, but I’ve asked Microsoft whether this has anything to do with Silverlight ads coming to Xbox Live, and I’ve requested that Electronic Arts answer a few questions as well, such as how the ads are being delivered and for long we’ll be dealing with them. I’m hoping to hear back from both parties.

In any case, I hope these ads aren’t the start of a new trend. Buying this game, no one told me it’d be cluttered with ads that have nothing to do with boxing. While a bit of in-game advertising is appropriate when it fits the surroundings (such as street billboards in a racing game), blatant banners that cover up the game screen are just uncalled for.

 
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5 Comments For This Post

  1. Jason Says:

    Maybe if it would reduce the price of the game I would put up with that, but if I start seeing advertising in $59.99 games that’s not elegantly tied in to the gameplay I’m going to have to be careful who I buy games from.

  2. DaveZatz Says:

    Wow, not subtle at all. Some of the billboards and things in driving games aren’t bad, but this is gratuitous and over the top. And of course no one would ever let you return the game. :/

  3. Morac Says:

    Wipeout HD for the PS3 had a rather annoying ad added and then removed 24 hours later. The ad would play before every race, adding an addition 20 seconds to the load time since there was no way to skip the ad.

    http://kotaku.com/5329492/sony-scraps-wipeout-hd-loading-ad

    There is definitely a trend towards ads in games.

  4. Andy Maslin Says:

    I agree that if they had a lower-priced version of the game (as new games, not to release years-old games at $wp
    10) that was ad-subsidized then it would be ok, but to put it in like they did is ridiculous. Personally I play games as an escape, so I don’t want blatant reminders of things that frustrate me in the real world.

  5. bob Says:

    If Microsoft makes this a common occurrence with their games, then I’m parting with my 360 forever. There’s no excuse at all for putting popup ads in games like that. None.

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