Massive commissioned media research firm Interpret to survey gamers and found that they will accept online ads, within limits. For Microsoft, not to mention Google, which bought an in-game ad company of its own last year, this is good news to have paid for, particularly given that social network ads have been something of a disappointment.
"Gamers are open to advertising if it's done tastefully," said Grant Johnson, chief client officer and founding partner of Interpret. He characterized gamers as similar to other online consumers in terms of their receptiveness to ads.
There has been worry in the ad industry that gamers might reject the commercialization of games, which until recently have been "an art space." But Johnson said that his firm's findings demonstrate that games with real-world settings are enhanced by the presence of ads.
For example, among the gamers who remembered Adidas ads placed by Massive in 2K Sports' "Major League Baseball 2K7," Interpret found that 73% of the gamers agreed with the statement, "The ads enhanced the realism of the game."
Massive cites another example, a branding campaign backed by a candy bar company in Electronics Arts' "NASCAR 08." Among those surveyed, 72% agreed with the statement that the advertised candy bar is "a great snack to eat while playing video games," a 29% increase from the control group not tempted with pictures of sugary treats.
This raises the question of whether fewer publishers will develop fantasy-themed games in the future because of a lack of perceived in-game advertising opportunities. Johnson acknowledged that possibility, noting that publishers are bound to weigh the benefits of incremental revenue opportunities in games set in the real world.
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