The concept of dynamic in-game advertising, like that proffered by Massive back in the day, sounded like a good idea for games set in the real world, such as racing and sports ball. The reality was that gamers disliked it — intensely — and since then, developers and publishers haven’t really pushed the idea further. You might be surprised to learn that the thought has crossed minds of Frontier Developments, the studio behind the upcoming Elite: Dangerous and that a clause for in-game advertising exists in the game’s current EULA.
The clause, spotted by user “MonsantoShill666” on Reddit, states that the game “may incorporate technology … which enables advertising to be uploaded into the Game on your PC, and changed while the Game is being played on-line”. In order for the advertising to work, it must assign the player “a unique [though anonymous] identification number … used to monitor and calculate the number of views of dynamic advertising during gameplay”.
It then goes on to state the advertising only works while connected to the internet so if you don’t want to receive it, just unplug yourself from the web!
It’d be easier though just to block the IP addresses of the advertising servers, which anyone can figure out with a little investigative work. But I digress — the option is there for Frontier to implement dynamic ads into Elite, without a practical option to disable them.
Here’s the relevant text in its entirety:
8. In-Game Advertising
The Game may incorporate technology (which may be provided by Frontier or third party service providers engaged by Frontier (each a “Dynamic Advertising Provider”)) which enables advertising to be uploaded into the Game on your PC, and changed while the Game is being played on-line. In order that the Dynamic Advertising Provider is able to direct advertising appropriate to your Game and geographic region, as well as to the correct location within the computer game, certain non-personally identifiable data and information may be retrieved and retained by the Dynamic Advertising Provider including your I.P. address, geographic location, in-game position, and information concerning the appearance of advertising visible during your gameplay (for example, the length of time an item of advertising was visible, the dimensions of the advertisements). In addition, the Dynamic Advertising Provider may assign a unique identification number which is stored on your PC and which is used to monitor and calculate the number of views of dynamic advertising during gameplay. None of the information collected for this purpose including the identification number can be used to identify you.
The technology employed by Dynamic Advertising Providers may be located outside your country of residence (including outside of the European Union).
Where a Game incorporates dynamic advertising technology, the technology which serves the provision of dynamic in-game advertising is integrated within the Game. This means that if you do not want to receive dynamic advertising, you should only play the game when you are not connected to the Internet.
There was the argument that in-game advertising can actually help immersion — seeing ads for real companies on billboards in a GTA game for example, wouldn’t be so bad. For a space simulator set in the far future? Not so much. If Frontier worked with advertisers to come up with marketing styled to match the universe, it might be more acceptable, but right now, all I can see this doing is blowing up in the developer’s face… if it goes ahead with it.
To be honest, it’s not the sort of thing I’d expect from a game driven by David Braben, but there you go.