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Hellgate Beta's In-Game Ads Raise Eyebrows 424

Posted by Zonk
from the use-the-coke-luke dept.
ari wins writes "IGN.com has up a post discussing the new EA/Flagship game Hellgate: London, and the in-game advertisements it includes to facilitate targeted marketing. Though ads in games aren't exactly new, some Beta testers are objecting to their apparently off-putting presence. Users have also noted that accepting the game's EULA means you submit to the collection of 'technical and related information that identifies your computer, including without limitation your Internet Protocol address, operating system, application software and peripheral hardware'."
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Hellgate Beta's In-Game Ads Raise Eyebrows

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  • This CAN be stopped (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dynamo (6127) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @02:36PM (#21064737) Journal
    Now that there's a game out there with targeted marketing, the best way to take it down as well as the financial motivation to do it again is simple (but takes a lot of help):

    Buy it, wait a week or so, and return it. Then buy it somewhere else, wait a week or so, and return it. If just 5000 people were to do this 5 times each, it could destroy the percieved marketability, and it would be attributed to targeting issue. Enough people wasting enough time of enough computer stores, and computer stores would be best off not carrying it.

    Then the investors / decision makers who committed to this sickness get discliplined / lose money, and new investors get scared to do this again.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Can you return a video game anymore?
      • by buswolley (591500)
        Don't open the box dummy. Then it is easy to return.
        • If no one opens the box they will wonder why the hell you bought it in the first place, since the point is to make it look like people got pissed at the ads.....
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by basscomm (122302)

          Don't open the box dummy. Then it is easy to return.


          Yeah, good luck with that. Every Gamestop I've ever been to has the boxes on the shelves and the games in the drawer behind the register. I'm not sure how I can return it to them unopened when I can't even buy it unopened.
      • by symbolic (11752)
        If it's unopened, I'd be surprised if there were any objection to its return. There's no rule that says you have to play it in order to be completely turned off by this scheme...it could be something as simple as having read about it in a forum, and deciding that this it's far too invasive for your taste.
    • by suv4x4 (956391) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @02:58PM (#21064939)
      Buy it, wait a week or so, and return it. Then buy it somewhere else, wait a week or so, and return it. If just 5000 people were to do this 5 times each, it could destroy the percieved marketability, and it would be attributed to targeting issue. Enough people wasting enough time of enough computer stores, and computer stores would be best off not carrying it.

      Two things:

      1. Astroturf does not feel like real grass. Hell, it doesn't look like real grass. Don't Astroturf.

      2. You forgot something: denial. Hell, it can't be the ads, right? It must be the game is bad, despite all those gamers craving to see the targeted ads.
    • by bmo (77928) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @03:02PM (#21064967)
      And the only reason I'm singing you this song now is cause you may know somebody in a similar situation, or you may be in a similar situation, and if your in a situation like that there's only one thing you can do and that's walk into the game shop/software dealer wherever you are, just walk in say "Dude, You can get anything you want at Alice's restaurant." return the game, and walk out. You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he's just weird. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony, they may think they're both faggots and they'll refund the money really fast just to get 'em out the door. And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in singin' a bar of Alice's Restaurant, returnin' a game and walking out. They may think it's an organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day,I said fifty people a day walking in, returnin' a game, singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. And friends they may thinks it's a movement.

      And that's what it is , the Alice's Restaurant Anti-Bad-Software Movement, and all you got to do to join is sing it the next time it come's around on the guitar.

      --
      BMO
    • by Cheapy (809643) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @03:08PM (#21065031)
      ...or you could just not buy it and send an e-mail explaining why.
      • by koko775 (617640)
        Dollars speak louder than words. A frustrated consumer matters more than a frustrated potential (or non-) customer.
      • OR you could buy it, install it, activate it, return it, send them an email explaining you were already paying for it by the ad revenue they are now receiving because of it, so you're returning it because you're not going to pay for it TWICE.

        If anyone at the store argues about returning open box software, explain the ads. If they won't accept the return on that basis, explain you will be taking your software patronage elsewhere.
        • by buswolley (591500)
          I like this.For example, I do not wear shirts with logos because I am not receiving ad revenue for it. oh and I don't care if the shirt was pricier or cheaper because of subsidizing by the company of the logo to the t-shirt maker. The shirt should be free(Google model, now c'mon) at least.
      • by semicolon_underscore (1177421) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @04:17PM (#21065555)
        ...or you could just not buy it.
      • by PrescriptionWarning (932687) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @04:32PM (#21065637)
        or after playing the demo, you can decide for yourself whether you like it or not.

        and to be quite honest after playing the demo, there was really no reason to buy the game. Its not groundbreaking in any way, and I couldn't help but feel bored while playing the demo.
      • by Jim Hall (2985)

        My god, man .. where would we find the time to do that?

    • Uhh NO, don't even touch it. This way they get the message VERY QUICKLY, it flops at the start gate.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bepe86 (945139)
      Well, if we do that, and it results in bad sales, the distributor is just going to blame piracy, as always...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Shritish (1177411)
      Why though? You do realize they're offering a free service as well, free accounts for people to sign into and use? Go read the pricing model they have outlined. Don't lynch them because they have a few ads within, mostly.. I've only ever noticed an nVidia ad and haven't noticed any others. This hardly detracts from the gameplay. I doubt there's a need to be puritanical because these guys have a lot of ground to cover on the likes of World of Warcraft. I honestly wouldn't mind them making some extra mon
    • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Sunday October 21, 2007 @05:19PM (#21066063) Homepage Journal

      Buy it, wait a week or so, and return it. Then buy it somewhere else, wait a week or so, and return it. If just 5000 people were to do this 5 times each, it could destroy the percieved marketability
      You probably will only get a store credit, but if you're going to buy a game anyway, just do this before you get the game you really want.

      At least dynamo is trying to give some thought to showing a little Resistance to the companies that are misusing us.

      It's time for a little pushback.
  • Demo or Beta? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Gertlex (722812) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @02:36PM (#21064739)
    I'm not a beta player, and those people are/were under rather heavy NDAs, from what I hear. The demo of the game was released a few days ago, and *that* does indeed have ads in it. (I only noticed an NVidia ad)
    • by AuMatar (183847)
      And? You seem to think those NDAs mean anything- anyone in a guild or two knows all the details of those betas within a week of them coming out. Nobody follows the betas when it comes to friends or guildies, and they leak from there to common knowledge.
    • I'm a beta player (Score:3, Informative)

      by MMaestro (585010)
      I'm in the Hellgate beta and the NDA clause was really strict with the official forums being for beta testers only, no screenshots or in game videos allowed, and the general catch-all "you cannot talk about in game content" phrases. I say 'was' because the NDS was lifted just last Friday.

      That said, there ARE ads in the game, but contrary to popular belief, the ads DO NOT appear after you leave the stations (read: towns). Unlike the Battlefield 2 ads, which were over sized and overly bright in many cases, t

  • by Romicron (1005939) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @02:37PM (#21064747)
    Does it say anywhere on the box, "WARNING: This game includes in-game advertising and requires live monitoring of computer information?" Or are there massive amounts of consumers that are going to be shocked to discover that their game requires adware? There's a big difference between "Hey, we warned you" and "Turn around and grab your ankles".

    Second question: Anyone know how much this kind of live uploading of advertisements would affect online performance?
    • by suv4x4 (956391)
      Second question: Anyone know how much this kind of live uploading of advertisements would affect online performance?

      Online gaming: low traffic, low latency.
      Advertisements: big latency, big traffic.

      They don't step into each other's territory, and you could guess the ads will be cached, and can have lower priority than the multiplayer traffic.

      As for the included adware/spyware/drm/rootkits, that has become customary for PC games. Never again would I let a game installer come near my production PC.

      I guess that
      • by Dunbal (464142)
        and you could guess the ads will be cached

              I hope the advertisers are aware of my fee for storing their ad info on my hard drive. I think $5 a byte should do it.
  • wtf (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @02:38PM (#21064755) Journal
    If a game costs 50$ why the hell should there be ads in it? Who actually puts up with this enough to even make the idea look like something we would tolerate?
    • Re:wtf (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Rasit (967850) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @02:49PM (#21064867)

      If a game costs 50$ why the hell should there be ads in it? Who actually puts up with this enough to even make the idea look like something we would tolerate?
      Even better, if you dont pay a monthly fee you can only play a gimped character (smaller inventory etc.)

      So now we have to pay full price to buy it, pay each month AND get invasive ads?
      • Re:wtf (Score:5, Informative)

        by SeekerDarksteel (896422) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @03:41PM (#21065293)
        1) Your character is not gimped. You don't get certain online only options like shared stashes, guild creation, or the same number of character slots.

        2) Not subscribing does absolutely nothing to the single player. A single player game that is good enough on its own to justify the cost of the box. In addition you get free online play even if you never play another dime. I seriously think that if they offered NO free online play, instead saying you can play single player on your own or pay a subscription for online, that there would be less people pissed off.

        3) The subscription replaces having to buy expansions every six months or a year. Look at WoW. $15 a month, plus $50 a year for an expansion, plus no single player. And you don't hear anyone bitching about that.

        4) You clearly haven't seen the ads. They are far from invasive. You can play through and never even notice that the ads on the subway walls are for real products. They aren't bright neon signs that scream "BUY COKE, MMM COKE." They're dirty worn down subway ads you'd expect to see in a subway. Only they're for actual products. I don't like the precedence either, but it's definitely not a gamebreaker.
        • Your argument is fairly sound, but WoW is a terrible example. Blizzard didn't release an expansion until the game was 2 years old, and look to be only releasing another a year later. Everquest 1/2 are better examples, as they managed to get through many many expansions in addition to charging a monthly fee. I very much doubt the amount of content added regularly to Hellgate will even approach the size of the boxed Burning Crusade expansion for WoW.
    • Re:wtf (Score:5, Interesting)

      by BarneyL (578636) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @02:56PM (#21064929)
      The same people who pay for their cable/satelite TV subscription and watch adverts during the commercial breaks? Or buy a magazines with adverts in? The model is not entirely new even if I don't believe for a moment that the adverts in games are there "to reduce the sale price" as is claimed by the publishers.
    • Re:wtf (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DeepHurtn! (773713) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @03:02PM (#21064965)
      ...because the avarice of corporations knows no bounds?
    • by Crazy Taco (1083423) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @03:42PM (#21065303)

      There actually are some pretty good reasons to put ads in games. In fact, having ads in games (to a point) can be a win/win for both the software company, which gets more money, and the user, who gets more realism. For instance, if you play a game in a city setting, one would expect realistic ads on billboards, bulletin boards, walls, etc (as opposed to crappy old games where you would race cars through a city, for instance, and every billboard would say "Midway!", which got old really quick). And speaking of racing games, what kind of a NASCAR game would you have if there weren't ads plastered all over the cars? I think having ads in a game is great for realism and cost defrayment (maybe you don't need as many people to buy a game for developers to be willing to make it, since they will also get ad money). As long as they put the ads in context within the game, this is a great thing.

      Now, I should say I haven't seen this beta so I don't know if they are crossing the line and putting ads out of context. If every third person in a crowd is wearing an NVIDIA shirt, that is out of context and pretty ridiculous. Also, if performance suffers from downloading new ads for the game or something, that is bad too. But if performance doesn't suffer, downloading new ads could be good. After all, billboards, walls, etc change their ads in real life, so why shouldn't a game? That ads realism and variety to the landscape.

    • by Blakey Rat (99501)
      Magazines have been tolerated for decades with this exact model. Cable TV is another example. Hell, that's half the draw of the Superbowl each year.
    • Ads in games are nothing new, though. You drove past Atari billboards in Pole Position back in the 1980s. Practically every driving game has billboards. There are ads on the boards in hockey games [elecplay.com] and soccer games [gameguru.in]. I was watching my roommate play a basketball game, and along the sidelines, they had those rolling billboard ad machines just like on television. I thought, "wouldn't it be cool if those displayed real ads".

      Advertisers want to put their ad in front of people's eyes. Some people spend an
    • by symes (835608)

      If a game costs 50$ why the hell should there be ads in it? Who actually puts up with this enough to even make the idea look like something we would tolerate?

      I absolutely agree 100% with this. I'm, personally, getting utterly sick of having some glossy marketeer's latest gimmick shoved down my throat. This is especially when I find advertising in and on products I buy. Most print magazines are 50% loose pieces of advertising which need recycling before I can even find the contents page, which is buried between a picture of my next car and a picture of my next trophy wife gently caressing my next mobo. I pay for cable tv and yet get bombarded with ads (thank

  • I wonder if many will complain when it's ads for Sloggi. :-P
    Anyway, seems to me it's about time more and better sandbox programs appear so games like this can be cut off from the OS itself.
    No probing what OS, applications and colour of my shirt is, just run the damned game for which people paid good money.
    Otherwise I'll just stick to good ol' Simcity, unless the development of games for *nix/*BSD skyrockets.
    • by vertinox (846076)
      Anyway, seems to me it's about time more and better sandbox programs appear so games like this can be cut off from the OS itself.

      As an Intel Mac Gamer, I do this already. I play all my games in bootcamp or parallels and leave anything personal and business related on the OS X side of things. I suppose the could find out what other games I am playing but that is about it.
  • Overreactions. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DrEldarion (114072) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @02:46PM (#21064837)
    I've been playing the beta for a week now, and even though I knew about the ads before I started playing, I still haven't noticed them at all while playing when I wasn't specifically looking for them. IIRC, they're limited to "stations" where are basically the towns from Diablo 2. Since these are basically subway stations, you expect to see ads there, and they aren't obtrusive at all, so they feel like part of the environment rather than being a jarring experience.

    Hellgate is not the game to make an outrage over, because the ads in it are so tastefully done that they feel right.
    • by nurb432 (527695) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @02:50PM (#21064877) Homepage Journal
      If it has gotten to the point that ads are expected and feel 'right' in a video game, then the marketeers have won.

      ADs are not 'right' in any context, especially when you are paying for the product.
      • by derfy (172944) * on Sunday October 21, 2007 @02:59PM (#21064945) Homepage Journal
        Wait a minute. Games are trying to imitate reality. In reality, subway stations have ads in them. So, shouldn't games have ads in them* to "feel right"?

        * = WHERE APPROPRIATE. Games like WoW do not need billboards in them.

        But I agree on the paying aspect. If you pay, you don't see ads(unless you want to).

        And, make the game cost less due to the ad revenue.
      • by dave1g (680091)
        well, they aren't paying for the beta, I assume....
      • by Rallion (711805)

        ADs are not 'right' in any context, especially when you are paying for the product.


        You must really hate magazines. A lot.
      • by GiMP (10923)
        > If it has gotten to the point that ads are expected and feel 'right' in a video game, then the
        > marketeers have won.

        I'm not so sure that there was ever a battle to win. More of a 'bending over'.

        Anyway, there are places where you *expect* to see ads, such as billboards on the side of a highway, oin a subway station, or on the side of a bus. Older games either missed this realism (come on, how many highways do you know without any billboards?) or had fake advertisements.

        I guess for the game develope
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Draek (916851)
        get the ads out of real-life stations, and then they won't feel 'right' on a video-game one anymore.

        sorry, but the battle against 'marketeers' was lost decades ago.
      • by naoursla (99850) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @08:51PM (#21067459) Homepage Journal
        The real way to attack this is to get rid of advertising in real-life places like subways. Then the game makers won't have the "more realistic" excuse to put ads in-game.
    • So far, so good, but the EULA bit about data collection is still annoying enough that I will ignore this game.
      Besides, it is supposed to have too much instancing for my taste ;-)
    • Since these are basically subway stations, you expect to see ads there, and they aren't obtrusive at all, so they feel like part of the environment rather than being a jarring experience.

      Hellgate is not the game to make an outrage over, because the ads in it are so tastefully done that they feel right.

      Simply because you don't notice the ads doesn't mean they don't effect you. The ads in the game are subtly changing your outlook towards the product being advertised. In fact, it is better for them if you don't notice them. You are being taken advantage of all the time by advertisers, and the fact that people now accept this as being normal is very sad.

      When you start thinking of advertising as normal and even part of an enjoyable entertainment experience, you have given companies an open-ended invitatio

  • by mattgreen (701203) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @03:04PM (#21064989)
    Dear God, not again!

    Luckily I had a helpful error box pop up and only had to pay $19.95 (plus VA 4.5% sales tax) to stop this heinous security oversight that is present in EVERY operating system on the Internet!
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by j79zlr (930600)
      Mining your IP address and OS version is nothing special, but TFS says that it also transmits information about your installed programs and connected hardware. That is a little more invasive than the info included in your headers.
  • Advertising (Score:3, Funny)

    by niceone (992278) * on Sunday October 21, 2007 @03:04PM (#21064995) Journal
    I find advertising pretty off-putting in the real world too. Just another reason to stay in the basement...
  • Cursor tracking (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BlueParrot (965239) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @03:09PM (#21065041)
    Taking bets on weather this will be seen as a reason to make the game "phone home" about what users "look at" in-game ? I'd expect them to track your cursor, camera angles, and zoom at the very least.
  • Two Words (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dunbal (464142) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @03:14PM (#21065079)
    This makes sense really, when you consider who is pushing for this:

    Electronic Arts.

    Yet another reason why I hope they will die a fiery death. I haven't bought an EA game since they bought/shut down GameStorm [wikipedia.org] because "gasp" it competed with "Ultima Online".
  • So, I was invited to take part in this particular Beta... But after hearing about the draconian EULA and now this, I'm not sure I have any interest... *sigh* I miss the days where I could Beta test something without having to worry about my privacy...
  • Spying (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ChaoticCoyote (195677) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @03:24PM (#21065159) Homepage

    I don't mind in-game ads, as long as they're inobtrusive.

    I do mind giving EA and Flagship blanket permission to examine everything on my computer. READ what their "agreement" says -- they can mine your computer for whatever data they want, and give/sell it to whomever pays for it.

    I keep sensitive business data, covered by NDAs, on my computer; I don't want anonymous strangers mining through my music, documents, source code, and data. Quite simply, the Hellgate: London agreement is completely unreasonable and dangerous.

    Anyone who supports Free Software should understand the principles involved here, and refuse to accept Hellgate London on their computer.

    • Re:Spying (Score:5, Informative)

      by illumin8 (148082) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @04:32PM (#21065647) Journal

      I do mind giving EA and Flagship blanket permission to examine everything on my computer. READ what their "agreement" says -- they can mine your computer for whatever data they want, and give/sell it to whomever pays for it.
      This is such a non-story, it isn't even funny. Talk about blowing things out of proportion. Their agreement gives them the right to do less than Google has the right to do every time you make a search. What's more, they even promise not to use your individual data in any way. It is only used in aggregate form, pretty much like Google. Check this text, from the very agreement (emphasis mine):

      EA and/or the Related Parties may also use this information in the aggregate and, in a form which does not personally identify you, to improve our products and services and we may share that aggregate data with our third party service providers.
      I've been playing the beta the last 2 weeks, and I must tell you, this game pretty much rocks. It's like Diablo 2 met Halflife 2 and they had a baby. A demon spawned, zombie killing, FPS if you want to or hack-n-slash or pew-pew with spells if you want to, clickfest of a game. This game is like Diablo 2 in full 3d on crack. It is about as addictive as crack, and you're going to be hearing a lot about it over the next couple weeks.
  • Let's not waste our anger on whether or not there are ads. The real problem is the bogus parts about them collecting some "anonymous" info.

    According to wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massive_Incorporated [wikipedia.org]

    Second, the SDK is integrated with the game to act as a client to Massive's ad servers. It allows the game to fetch the ad, display it on a surface, and analyze how the player acts around it. Massive refers to this as "Phase II: Integration of the Software Development Kit (SDK)."

    Oh and just to mak

    • by Aladrin (926209)
      You know what? What you just described... I don't mind. If they want to record that I spent 30 second staring at a billboard with Axe body spray, I'm fine with that. I'm fine with them logging my IP. (All of them probably do, anyhow.)

      What I'm not fine with is then also taking down ANY information that is on my personal computer. They have no right to collect or use information about what hardware, software or data is on my computer.

      It's a good thing I got tired of the same old MMO BS, because back whe
  • I expect ads in something I get for free, as in over the air radio or TV. But I don't in a video game I'd have to pay for.

    A $50 game that I have to accept ads and spyware to play? No thanks. Sell it for $10 or give it away for free, and you might justify it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by aseth (893952)
      Just like how there are no ads on cable TV, right?
      • by WCMI92 (592436)
        Cable TV is cheaper than it would be if there were no ads at all. And premium channels (like HBO) have no ads at all. When you are shoving ads into a $50 game (which is typically what games cost these days, maybe even a little ABOVE average priced) you are expecting me to pay full price PLUS put up with ads.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by GooberToo (74388)
          Cable TV is cheaper than it would be if there were no ads at all.

          That's actually not true. Most people don't remember then but when cable first came out to the masses, 90% of the selling point is that you would ONLY get commercials on network broadcast channels. Once they had their foot in the door in most markets, commercials changed over night. Since then, it has been the same old story; lie, lie, lie, raise prices again, just like everyone other monopoly/utility. I seem to recall cable being commerc
      • by cicho (45472)
        Your TV doesn't mine your apartment for personal data and upload it to the cable company. And anyway, the prevalence of advertising in the media is only one more reason to STOP any further encroachment, not tolerate it.
  • Just as advertising is all over the real world, so will it be all over the virtual one.
  • by krunk7 (748055) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @03:46PM (#21065347)

    It's not that big a deal. Subways with bare walls would be very odd. Extremly odd and not even close to realistic. So you have a game whose environment includes add ridden subways (just like in real life). Now the developer has to ask a question: Which adds do we display in the subways? You can choose at random or you can do what the subways do: whoever pays.

    If, for the sake of realism, you have to put adds in the subway stations, why not make money off of it? The game experience is the same, the only difference is instead of seeing "Moca Mola" and "Nickers" adds you see the same ones your used to in real subways (Coca Cola and Snickers).

    Now if we started seeing the "Legendary Snicker Hammer of Pwnage" and the "Coca Cola Champion's Sword" I'd be put off....but this isn't the case at all.

  • It's the "EULA" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @04:00PM (#21065467)
    If I don't like ads, I can always just not buy another product from that company. But a "EULA" that says you agree to it transmitting personal information to the company, telling it not just that you bought the game but when you are playing it??? I will pass on that one.

    I do not know about game-specific retailers per se, but not one major software retailer in the United States (CompUSA, etc.) will give refunds for opened software. The software companies themselves encouraged that policy "to fight piracy". So statements in shrink-wrap EULAs to the effect that if you don't like the terms you should just return the product are misleading at best. If I were a judge, I would call it outright "fraud" because the software companies are well aware of that situation... they created it!
    • If you're old enough, purchase games with a credit card with a consumer protection plan. The credit card company refunds your money if the store doesn't. If you're not old enough, then ask your parent or guardian to do it and give them the money for the game.
  • IP (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sh3l1 (981741) *
    From the EULA:

    Massive may collect your Internet protocol address and other basic anonymous information...
    How is an IP address even close to anonymous?
  • by Elyscape (882517) <elyscape@gmail.cFORTRANom minus language> on Sunday October 21, 2007 @05:00PM (#21065883) Homepage
    Normally, I wouldn't have much of a problem with this. In-game ads are, IMO, fine so long as they don't detract from the atmosphere or invade your computer in any significant way. In other words, the ads should at least be plausibly valid in the context of the game (so no advertisements for, say, computer parts in a medieval game, but feel free in a modern game).

    My problems are as follows.
    1. The ads, at least those in the demo, don't fit at all. I saw a faded ad for some movie to be released in 2032, which was fine. What wasn't was the nVidia ad right next to it. It was very obviously anachronistic and, frankly, utter bullshit.
    2. This software is a bit too invasive. Read your software and hardware configuration? Fuck you. If you're only monitoring what I do in-game and how long I look at each, that's fine. But the instant you start looking at things outside the nice sandbox of your game, you have crossed the line. Fuck off and leave me alone.
    3. They're already making extra money! If you want the extra features and content, you need to pay a monthly fee! And now they're trying to turn our eyeballs into checks? Choose one or the other, not both! If you're going to charge a monthly fee for parts of your game, don't force advertising on your customers! And if you're going to force advertising on your customers, you damn well better give them all the content you have for free.
    This is such bullshit. While in-game advertising doesn't have to suck, EA seems intent on ensuring that it does.
  • by hsoft (742011) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @05:31PM (#21066153) Homepage
    If EA was actually putting those ads "because it adds to realism", there would be an OPTION to disable the ads in-game. This is like everything corporate. Give them your hand, they will take your arm. This is only the beginning...
  • by kevlarcowboy (996973) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @05:33PM (#21066169) Journal
    I never understood why advertisers and publishers want to slow down the servers with ads when they could instead host low ping servers (relatively low cost/ month). Many games let clans put up an image in the loading screen, so why not have the advertiser pay for the price of hosting the server and just put a banner ad in the loading screen? Instead of being an ingame nuisance, they could turn it into a positive.
  • by Cecil (37810) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @08:13PM (#21067247) Homepage
    For anyone who's interested in blocking ingame advertising, I'm sure it will end up being a rapidly changing arms race as usual, but for the moment, blocking the following IP ranges is sufficient to kill updated advertising and privacy-invading "impressions" tracking from both of the major ad providers (IGA Worldwide and Massive Inc)

    38.119.38.0/24 (Massive Inc)
    65.55.179.0/24 (Massive Inc)
    72.3.184.144/28 (IGA)
    72.32.5.0/28 (IGA)

    Massive does lookups on the domain madserver.net (imp.madserver.net, media.madserver.net, z.madserver.net, etc ad nauseum) to get its IP addresses, whereas IGA seems to use hardcoded IPs (there is no reverse-lookup for them either, although they are hosted by rackspace)

    The massive blocks are enough to block advertising and impressions data for Enemy Territory: Quake Wars as well as SWAT4 and does not seem to have any effect on gameplay. They have been confirmed with tcpdump. The only other network activity (besides multiplayer) are simply checking for updates and registering with the master multiplayer servers at
    demonware.net.

    I am not so sure about the IGA blocks, that's mostly just information from forum posts, since I don't have Battlefield 2142 there's not much I can do to test it. Your milage may vary.

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