Elite: Dangerous Leaves Door Open To ‘Dynamic’ In-Game Advertising

Elite: Dangerous Leaves Door Open To ‘Dynamic’ In-Game Advertising

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.

Elite: Dangerous EULA and Terms of Use [Elite: Dangerous, via Reddit]


  • When it comes to advertising, it seems like if it’s non-intrusive, it’s not an issue. The problem with those WipEout ads was that they pushed up the loading time. If a company wants to stick some dynamic billboard ads into the game universe alongside the fictional stuff, that’s cool with me. The only issue is when it starts to take its toll on game enjoyment.

    • They really fucked up with Wipeout HD. The tracks were already surrounded by ads for fictional products that could have been replaced, giving them a chance to show how it was possible to integrate some cool, futuristic ads for real world products, without compromising the game.

  • If ads are just that every week or so the Billboards change that’s fine. Infact I wouldn’t even object to a Radio add coming through the stereo in a car game.

    But where are these adds? Do loading screens tell me about McDonalds Burgers? Or am I playing the game and suddenly boom pop up window.

    The other thing about Ads in games, it’s easier to swallow in a free game.

  • I remember having those in The Matrix Online, where the billboards around the city would change to advertise things like movies and computer manufacturers.

    Was rather amusing during the period when they had Billboards for Constantine and everyone was making fun of it by claiming that Neo was back.

  • We’re going to be seeing more of this. I’m actually surprised that, in this connected world, it’s not already more widespread.

    • I was expecting this to become the trend to support the free to play model about a decade ago, seriously surprised it’s not widespread already.

      Makes so much more sense for games like GTA:O to use this instead of the horrid cash card system they are using which is forcing them to piss off their customer base to force a revenue stream…if they just had real world adds on billboards for revenue they could have funded the heist development off that lone imo. Online Advertising contracts are serious business these days. And the demographic playing GTA O (15-29 year olds) is the exact target demographic advertisers lost with the advent of the Internet as an entertainment platform.

  • In open world games set in cities and the like, or racing/sports games, this sort of thing makes a lot of sense. If there are dynamic billboards that change in game as I play, that would definitely add to the immersion of a game like GTA or Infamous.

    The only way it wouldn’t work is if they were obtrusive and existed outside of the game world. A perfect example of how not to do it is the xbox dashboard, it’s slow and bloated because of the ridiculous amount of ads. It negatively impacts and compromises the user’s experience and that is unacceptable.

    Frankly the possibility of in-game advertising is far more appealing to me than the Free-To-Play direction the industry seems to be headed in. If having ads in game means no more micro-transactions, sign me the hell up.

  • Would be funny if they end up advertising something that makes no sense hundreds of years in the future like Xbox Ones or new movies.

    • What? You don’t like the refreshing taste of Coca Cola as you zip through space blasting pirates? How about a bite of a freshly made subway sub? ^_^

    • I don’t know it could be very tongue in cheek talking about anOld movie Marathon but showing latest releases.

  • I was just thinking about this the other day. I suppose as long as it doesn’t break the atmosphere, such as a gigantic planet sized yellow neon “M”, it can be allowed. I don’t think it should be mandatory, perhaps enable/disable options?

  • I’d be expecting ads to perhaps turn up on the billboards outside station entrances, which wouldn’t bother me too much as long as they’re well chosen and not blatantly out-of-place.

    They also should sell advertising spots on the side of toxic waste canisters in-game. Surely BP would be game? 😛

  • I always thought advertisers could actually add to a game’s level of immersion if done properly. What if instead of Rockstar paying to have its in game radio station produced, they get payed to have an ad agency run it for them? As long as the ad agency can keep it tasteful and most importantly relevant, it would be great.

  • Don’t know how many remember, but I’m pretty sure that Battlefield 2142 was the first game to do this. I don’t see what the fuss is aboutreally. I quite like running around and being reminded that Batman was about to hit theatres or whatever. There are made up brands and products in the billboards anyway otherwise…..

  • This is a game set in some far distant future, I’m not sure what ads would work in this environment.

    I’d like to play the game, immersed in some future world, not being torn out by being reminded of the current one.

    • It would be cool if some advertisers would put a bit of thought into coming up with a futuristic product that may not exist now, but advertises their brand.. and put that in the game instead of immersion-breaking crap like “SPADERMAn IN CINEMAS SEP 2014!”

  • If one googles a portion of that EULA you’ll find the same section in many many games. Looks like Frontier did some copy and paste work with the EULA.

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