Tales from Gamedev: ads in your everything

Punp

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I genuinely hope this one gets rejected by players, but here you go. The most recent rumour going around dev circles is that the future is mobile-like ads in your PC games.

The logic goes like this:

* Kids grew up with free-to-play games all through their childhood on their mobile devices. Ads and free games are normalised.
* Kids don't care that they have to watch ads, it's just a minor annoyance that they wait and then skip the thing.
* These kids are no longer kids and are coming into disposable income.
* Ads on your start screen menu and throughout gameplay are likely to become the standard.

I've spoken to a few people now (mostly corpos) who are under the impression that because there is poor curation of games and it's such a flooded market, that the only solution is to monetise on advertising other games and products within the game you're playing.

It's estimated that there's about five years before this sees market saturation, but there is already work underway in multiple platforms to handle the ad API.

What are your thoughts on this? Will future gamers reject this, or will they accept it?
 
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McGovern '72!

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I sure as hell hope they don't. And, while I might be overestimating them, I don't think the corpos are quite dumb enough to start pushing shitcoin runner 3D on steam immediately. If they want to implement ads, and genuinely want to implement ads, they'll start running psyops on it instead of immediately forcing it, just like they did with the bullshit "pay to use your own internet" typa shlock. A few subtle product placements here or there, leading to further ads, until you have to watch a 90 second unskippable ad for Applebee's every time you want another life in Mario. You have to gradually erode people's idea of a reality outside of the current one that exists in order to really get them to eat up whatever you shit out. Just look at the utter cult that is Nintendo fans...

But at the same time, I'm not really sure if something that egregious can work. While shitty monetization and abhorrent industry standards might be tolerable to the average modern gamer, ads might be the straw that breaks the camel's back for most, especially if they're in the middle of gameplay. Ipad kids might be growing up, but there's a difference between Ipad slop and AAA releases. I think even the poor bastards in gen alpha, raised on a terrifying diet of cocomelon and neglect, will still have this distinction, and will still at least resist ads in games that cost $70 or whatever.
 
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Punp

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I sure as hell hope they don't. And, while I might be overestimating them, I don't think the corpos are quite dumb enough to start pushing shitcoin runner 3D on steam immediately. If they want to implement ads, and genuinely want to implement ads, they'll start running psyops on it instead of immediately forcing it, just like they did with the bullshit "pay to use your own internet" typa shlock. A few subtle product placements here or there, leading to further ads, until you have to watch a 90 second unskippable ad for Applebee's every time you want another life in Mario. You have to gradually erode people's idea of a reality outside of the current one that exists in order to really get them to eat up whatever you shit out. Just look at the utter cult that is Nintendo fans...

But at the same time, I'm not really sure if something that egregious can work. While shitty monetization and abhorrent industry standards might be tolerable to the average modern gamer, ads might be the straw that breaks the camel's back for most, especially if they're in the middle of gameplay. Ipad kids might be growing up, but there's a difference between Ipad slop and AAA releases. I think even the poor bastards in gen alpha, raised on a terrifying diet of cocomelon and neglect, will still have this distinction, and will still at least resist ads in games that cost $70 or whatever.
I should clarify, from the people I've talked to, this is entirely a numbers game. Sure, some people won't like it, but the ones that are monetisable will eat it up because it's what they're used to. Up until five years ago gaming mostly revolved around finding "whales" that you could hook into your game and they would fund the experience for most users.

Whales are, for those unfamiliar with the term, big spenders. Like big, big spenders who only make up 0.1% (not an exaggeration) of your demographic. They essentially fund your entire project if you can keep them happy and addicted. This is mostly World of Warcraft's monetisation model.

The corporate market are not against alienating their fanbase/good will in favour of making a quick buck now. One of the main pressures on game development at the moment is investor debt. You can bet that anything that shows a growth of revenue will be the target route.

Corporate gaming isn't about fun. It's about addiction and targeting a very specific audience.


I don't doubt you're right that they'll try to thin-end the wedge before going full speed, but games are already doing this. Consider TF2's in-game store, or the weapon skins in [modern fighting simulator] or... hell even indie games with update logs which are used to advertise new projects, or Kickstarter campaigns which update two years later to tell you about their most recent thing. It seeps in everywhere. Advertising in things you've bought is not new.
 
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McGovern '72!

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I should clarify, from the people I've talked to, this is entirely a numbers game. Sure, some people won't like it, but the ones that are monetisable will eat it up because it's what they're used to. Up until five years ago gaming mostly revolved around finding "whales" that you could hook into your game and they would fund the experience for most users.

Whales are, for those unfamiliar with the term, big spenders. Like big, big spenders who only make up 0.1% (not an exaggeration) of your demographic. They essentially fund your entire project if you can keep them happy and addicted. This is mostly World of Warcraft's monetisation model.

The corporate market are not against alienating their fanbase/good will in favour of making a quick buck now. One of the main pressures on game development at the moment is investor debt. You can bet that anything that shows a growth of revenue will be the target route.

Corporate gaming isn't about fun. It's about addiction and targeting a very specific audience.


I don't doubt you're right that they'll try to thin-end the wedge before going full speed, but games are already doing this. Consider TF2's in-game store, or the weapon skins in [modern fighting simulator] or... hell even indie games with update logs which are used to advertise new projects, or Kickstarter campaigns which update two years later to tell you about their most recent thing. It seeps in everywhere. Advertising in things you've bought is not new.
Shit, that's true. Reminds me of the growth in shitty 3D gacha games recently; mainly Genshin Impact and the like. Most people can agree that it's a shitty predatory monetization system that actively makes the game worse in every way but already there are hordes of redditor bastards who defend it with all their might because they "had fun with it." These systems aren't even just being tolerated, they're becoming actively loved.

If you'll allow me a little pseud larp, it reminds me of how either Lacan or Baudrillard (I can't remember which one; I've only learned about this shit through reading Deleuze and commentaries on Deleuze :Soyfact: ) described schizophrenia as a process of identification with corporate advertisement and bourgeois familial structures. The CEO of Buzzfeed consciously used this to great effect with a legion of shitty personality quizzes. At a certain point, advertisement stops being a part of the experience and becomes the experience itself.
 
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Sidewinder91

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The most recent rumour going around dev circles is that the future is mobile-like ads in your PC games.
If this actually becomes a thing, I can add another tally to 'stuff that The Decline of Video Gaming accurately predicted back in 2004."

What are your thoughts on this? Will future gamers reject this, or will they accept it?
Probably both, honestly.

Thing about Gamers is that they love to make a lot of noise, but spending hours of your life consooming video essays about why [Product] is bad doesn't really translate to reduced sales. There was a huge boycott campaign against Hogwart's Legacy and nothing really happened.
 

SolidStateSurvivor

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Product placement ads in games has been around for a while, I remember it being a big deal when Obama bought the first presidential ads in games in 2012. NBA2k just seems like a glorified way to sell sneakers and athletic wear with how prominent it is in the shop, but it isn't exactly immersion breaking at least. Fortnite of course mastered this sort of advertising with their collab events, and other games do similarly these days.
video-game-2-017af1bc34d3c82def41db5e39b8eff67749488b.jpg


I assume what you're saying is that they're going to integrate pop up ads? Like "before you play this next match, watch this un-skippable 30 sec video or pay [subscription fee] to remove them" or "close out of this ad to proceed to main menu"? It'd be scummy but I could totally see it, so many games could have obnoxious ads play during loading screens between matches. In 2009 Sony filed for this sort of thing, with the big focus being geared towards interacting with the ad directly to skip it.
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With modern full priced games, I already dislike how aggressive they can be advertising the in-game stores. It's just insulting having paid full price for a game only for them to just use it as a vessel to get more out of you. I don't want to play a game that's just running psy-ops on me. It's going to be even more grating when you're getting completely unrelated shit shilled to you (modern US TV adverts make me viscerally angry at this point not even joking.)

What are your thoughts on this? Will future gamers reject this, or will they accept it?
I think we all know the answer to this, even if there is some outcry in the beginning so long as it makes money it'll become an industry standard and normalized.

planeadmeme.png

It's interesting to think of it from the perspective of the younger crowd though, they have to be so used to aggressive advertising on both F2P mobile games and social media that it's just this subtle white noise subconsciously messing with them. You've got to wonder how much of their screentime is just ads?
 
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There is a subset of people that strive for the smallest outlay of cash as priority #1. I work with a guy that would be all in on this, he already watches the 'free' netflix-clone streaming apps, enters sweepstakes, gets in on group buys and scammy pyramid schemes... I don't get it (the guy makes good money), my free time and privacy are worth too much to waste on that nonsense but humans gonna human I guess.
 
I kinda understand when indie game devs/creators try to squeeze the maximum amount of money out of their games because they are just trying to afford food but souless corpo demons should be ruthlessly mocked when they get greedy.
 
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I've spoken to a few people now (mostly corpos) who are under the impression that because there is poor curation of games and it's such a flooded market, that the only solution is to monetise on advertising other games and products within the game you're playing.
In a way, it seems like a natural, if distasteful, progression. Time will tell. But the fact that corpos are thinking along these lines does show just how serious a problem gaming's flooded market is. (Besides AAA debt, that is.) Advertising might not be the solution, and I hope it isn't, but something has to give. And I'm not even sure curating out the shovelware would be enough.
A few subtle product placements here or there....
Product placement ads in games has been around for a while....
Great. I get to repost this GIF.
iu

I kinda understand when indie game devs/creators try to squeeze the maximum amount of money out of their games because they are just trying to afford food but souless corpo demons should be ruthlessly mocked when they get greedy.
Sure but poor soulless demons are still soulless demons.
 
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punisheddead

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The logic goes like this:

* Kids grew up with free-to-play games all through their childhood on their mobile devices. Ads and free games are normalized.
* Kids don't care that they have to watch ads, it's just a minor annoyance that they wait and then skip the thing.
* These kids are no longer kids and are coming into disposable income.
* Ads on your start screen menu and throughout gameplay are likely to become the standard.
What are your thoughts on this? Will future gamers reject this, or will they accept it?
We're already there pretty much and you can see it happening to services most people use.

It started off simple with banner ads but most started ignoring them due to annoyances and scams, they even have a nifty name for it "banner blindness". Then it spired further with video ads and many other formats. It works and it works well, you can monetize large audiences with little to no input from yourself. And it was arguably more effective then regular advertising, with how targeted online ads can be. No guessing like with traditional advertising, you can see everything, every metric. That's why retention is so important, not because of the service but the ads.

But users fight back both subconsciously and consciously and it became less profitable. Corpos dependent on it also saw that they had to "diversify their revenue streams", but that didn't mean giving up the ads. We can see it with video streaming services and many online services introducing price hikes and on top of that "ad supported" plans.

Vidya isn't much different, browser games monetized like this for years while they were a thing and mobile games supplement their "whale supported" income with ads. But this would never happen with AAA, right? It would and it did, excluding in game billboards which were a thing since the 2010s, games already started adding in game ads. Sports games and nba2k21 is notorious for adding unzippable real life ads during loading screens and artificially lengthening them.

But at least the consumer will fight back, right? Maybe, but not for long. 2k had to pull ads because of backlash but they'll try again later and they will succeed and it can be seen from previous experience. Just look at Netflix and password sharing, everyone was so mad and they were gonna raise prices too? That's it the consumers are finally gonna put their foot down and let Netflix tank, right? No, after all that Netflix subscriptions skyrocketed and they continue to make record profits.

So yep future gamers will indeed accept this, because kiddos these days are overwhelmingly coddled and cannot withstand to boycott their precious comfort online service and games are a service now. Maybe the money bleed from current consumers or it being ineffective will put this off but otherwise i expect it to be the norm in like 10 years, at least in sports games and the like.
 

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One prominent example of this sort of thing I just remembered was the BLM propaganda implemented into games during 2020. They basically served as pop up ads at the start of some games that you had to manually close out of. In the case of Call of Duty MW 2019, it replaced the loading screens.
image-31.png
 
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Consumers are pretty retarded. I'd like to think people would just avoid all these overproduced ad-filled games but theres a decent portion of the community that plays 1 game intensely or has that game as their identity. You think im gonna stop playing 2k because I have to see Druski's fatass every 10 minutes telling me to buy chicken fingers? I've already put years of my life in this game and a couple of hundred into VC.
Ideally there would be an alternative and people would just choose the one that doesn't waste their time and treat them like cattle. AI making game production cheaper and thus allowing smaller studios to make decent games is the only way I see this sort of thing stopping.
Indie gamers wont suffer at all as their gay romance sims will still have the same amount of zog propaganda.
 

Punp

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AI making game production cheaper and thus allowing smaller studios to make decent games is the only way I see this sort of thing stopping.
Dev: "Hi boss, I found a way to cut costs on making games!"

CEO: "Great!"

Dev: "Now we can make the game cheaper."

CEO: "You mean now we make more profit."


While funny, this isn't actually how it's going. It's more like: AI companies replace artists with cheaper alternatives. AI companies now monopolize the market. AI companies hike prices.
 
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I don't see this catching on, at least not for the next 20-30 years. My reasoning is, boomers, millennials and zoomers still playing videogames far outnumber alpha babies at the moment, and I think the majority would find it jarring enough to review bomb games that did this, possibly even boycott.
I could be wrong.
 

Sidewinder91

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While funny, this isn't actually how it's going. It's more like: AI companies replace artists with cheaper alternatives. AI companies now monopolize the market. AI companies hike prices.
Well, you reap what you sow.

I'm fine with AI on principle, but getting into bed with corporations like that is just asking for trouble.
 

Ross_Я

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One prominent example of this sort of thing I just remembered was the BLM propaganda implemented into games during 2020. They basically served as pop up ads at the start of some games that you had to manually close out of. In the case of Call of Duty MW 2019, it replaced the loading screens.
image-31.png
index.php


Do modern games really?
I think it will never cease to astonish me that people keep paying their money for that kind of garbage.
 
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