So ja, it’s been reported that the games SWAT 4 (via the latest patch) and the latest Splinter Cell games both have ‘live’ advertising, which download as you play and display stuff, basically no better than banners, on posters, vending machines, billboards, etc. within the games.

Both of these games seem to have been ‘enhanced’ by what seems to be a recently launched ‘service’, Massive Incorporated, specifically set up to place advertising within games.

Personally, I have a few problems with this. Firstly, I’ve already payed around R400 for my game. Now as I see it, things like advertising are usuallly used to subsidise either free services (eg: banner ads on many websites), or relatively cheap services (eg: ads on TV and radio). Now why the hell do publishers feel the need to milk even MORE money beyond the R400 a copy they are selling?

Secondly, there is NO opt-out. If you want to play the R400 game you just bought, you have to agree with the fact that you will be downloading these ads and wasting bandwidth on every map/level change, that they will be defacing your game, and you will be sending the advertisers ‘usage statistics’ - how long you looked at each ad, what angle you looked at it from, how far away you were from it, etc. As I read elsewhere (forgotten the URL at the moment), it’s pretty scary that this is the ‘first generation’ of this technology - I can only imagine the kinds of things they’ll track about your playing habbits in the future.

And finally, it’s just plain intrusive. I like seeing often humerous made-up posters where they’re needed - which is normally seldom in most games. I don’t want to see darn Coke ads in my games. Also, I’m sure publishers and advertisers will start pushing developers to include even more and more advertising billboards/posters/vending machines/etc in their levels, until one day you’re sneaking/running/driving/strolling/handing/rolling around some kind of psycho colourful flashing whacked hall of nothing but lame-ass banners and shit. Piss off with that stuff, please.

Aaaanyway, you may have guessed this idea doesn’t appeal to me at all. Unfortunately once the trend is started and the standards are set by a few games, things will only go downhill.

What’s also scary is that both SWAT and Splinter Cell are Unreal engine games :(. At the moment though, neither Epic or Midway have signed on with Massive Inc. it seems.