In a key panel at Friday's GDC Focus On Game Advertising Summit, senior execs from the major in-game advertising companies, including Nicholas Longano from the Microsoft-owned Massive, Inc, Jonathan Epstein of Double Fusion, Justin Townsend of IGA Worldwide, and Chris Gilbert of AdScape discussed the state of in-game advertising.
To start, Jonathan Epstein of Double Fusion was bullish on prospects for in-game ads, commenting: "Let's create forms of media that you can't do on the Internet or on television." Overall, the panel was relatively orderly, considering the confusion introduced into the market by Microsoft's acquisition of Massive Inc, and there were many considered hopes on the future of the market.
Gilbert tackled the Massive acquisition head-on, noting additional interest from publishers and others from the publicity, but notes it's "added some additional complexity." Double Fusion's Epstein, one of the companies perhaps to be most affected, commented wryly: "Certainly these are interesting times", and suggested that publishers benefit the most from a cross-platform solution.
IGA's Townsend commented: "My perspective has become more positive", but said he was concerned about media fragmentation, also suggesting: "I can't imagine Sony releasing their PS3 SDK to Microsoft" - he was perhaps the most skeptical of all the independent companies on the platform. Longina commented, to much laughter: "I think it was a great acquisition", but discussed the need for openness too. It still remains to be seen just how open Massive and Microsoft will be in terms of letting other ad-serving technologies run on the Xbox 360 platform, however.
Elsewhere in the panel, plenty of sensible points were made. Massive's Longano claimed that it's impossible to offset costs for next-gen game development costs, so secondary revenue streams are vital, thus the in-game ad market, which he claimed could bring $1 to $3 per individual retail unit shipped. Longano also commented that there was increasing interest in the space from an ad perspective - he noted $1 million in upfront bookings for a particular, unnamed Massive network title shipping in September.
Double Fusion's Jonathan Epstein interestingly suggested: "3D advertising represents the future of this medium", but that's not necessarily what ad agencies are currently participating in - dynamic in-game ads are currently often in billboard-like settings.
But Longano noted that static or video ads in 2D can repurpose existing creative from magazines or TV ads, meaning ad agencies won't need to get approval and do work from scratch in order to get a certain ad into a video game, showing that the status quo from dynamic advertising will likely function well in the short term.