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EA prepares plans to load in-game ads into its full-price AAA games as ‘meaningful growth driver’

Electronic Arts is internally discussing the introduction of outside advertising into its stores, EA CEO Andrew Wilson said in a statement during the company’s latest earnings call. The best way to play the price game, looking at how best to “have thoughtful implementation.”

“…advertising has the opportunity to be a meaningful driver of our growth.” Wilson went on to say, “…our teams within the company are now looking at how to implement very thoughtful implementation into the gaming experience.”

While many gamers might think of this as a more opportunistic industry that seems eager to fire all employees as soon as a game comes out, it’s surprising that there hasn’t been a ton of in-game advertising. Already with us.

EA has of course been involved before. Back in 2008, Burnout Paradise ran in-game ads during Senator Barrack Obama’s presidential campaign. UFC 4 also faced a much-maligned backlash for in-game advertising, which had to be removed as it actually affected gameplay.

As long as the ads are limited to in-game billboards and the like, most gamers probably won’t mind or even notice. If we end up with a YouTube-style scenario where ads interrupt the action every five minutes, things won’t go that smoothly, but accurate billboards in games like EAFC can actually provide a sense of realism.

While this is unlikely to happen in mainstream games, it has become an issue in many mobile products. The industry also needs to confront the perception that it simply continues to squeeze every penny out of gamers while posting record profits and layoffs.

While many won’t be surprised that Electronic Arts is raising this issue, at least its past experience with in-game advertising should help it address this issue as unobtrusively as possible. This is the dream.

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