Games for Xbox, PCs
EA said it will place dynamic advertising from Massive, the in-game ad network bought by Microsoft earlier this year, and from IGA Worldwide into a handful of Xbox 360 and PC titles this fall.
Dynamic ads in games can be changed and updated via web connection, while more traditional in-game advertising, such as billboards, require long lead times and cannot be refreshed. The publicized deals by EA put a virtual stamp of approval on the dynamic concept, and may convince more reticent marketers to try in-game advertising.
"EA's strategic commitment to the space is one that many leading advertisers have been waiting for," IGA's CEO, Justin Townsend, said in a news release.
Forrester Research analyst Shar VanBoskirk agreed, saying that the addition of EA expands the ad inventory exponentially in the in-game space. "For traditional advertisers, in-game advertising can now offer lots of places to advertise, the potential for large audiences, and the comfort in knowing what you're getting for your money," she said.
Yankee Group estimated in-game ad revenue of about $55 million in 2005, but expects the category to explode to $730 million by 2010. Ad-network executives from Massive and others such as Double Fusion say that total could go much higher, estimating sales as high as $2 billion by the turn of the decade.
Analysts also believe -- and EA executives hinted -- that the deals are just the beginning of EA's commitment to dynamic in-game ads.
"The agreement with Massive is a first step in a detailed strategy for serving advertising in a seamless format that doesn't disrupt game play," said Chip Lange, EA's VP-online commerce, in a news release about the deal.
The first EA title to get the ads will be the October debut of one of its top-selling franchises, "Need for Speed Carbon." Three previous game iterations of "Need for Speed" carried static or product-placement advertising. IGA's first title, also set for October, is "Battlefield 2412."