It's not happening in Australia yet, but it looks like in-game BF4 ads are on the way. What does it all mean?
By Toby McCasker on March 19, 2014 at 4:48 pm
I’ve been playing Battlefield 4 a lot, see, and even months after it came out it’s still pretty messy. The number of times I have somehow dominated everyone completely and utterly with my best m8 Crappy Hand Gun and then suffered a sudden crash is still a lot. The history books will never know my bumbling triumphs.
A few days ago I was haunting the internet looking for gullible people to take my anger out on, as you do. It backfired, ‘cos I found this instead, and I got even angrier. According to a boy and his screenshot, EA are now putting ads in your Battlefield 4 when they should be, I dunno, fixing this thing.
Of course, you would be a percolating damage case if you just believed every pissing thing that popped up on Reddit, seeming visual proof or no. Internet people are wily. They can do things. Nothing is real. So I emailed EA and asked them about it. A somewhat confused local PR rep, stress veins-deep in Titanfall everything, had no idea what I was talking about. She had to confer with “the team” and ask them what was up.
I waited patiently, flying a MAV into someone’s prone crotch while whispering “Yesssss” into my mic. Haha, he called me a dickbrain and blocked me, can you believe that.
Anyway, EA’s person came back on the wire: “I have been told that there will be no ads.” At least, that seems to be the case for Australian players. Hurray! Still, also boo: The same doesn’t look like it can be said for fellow BF4 peeps in the States, where EA do appear to be trialing the concept of spruiking bad movies (Need For Speed is reportedly balls and the lead character is called Tobey, I hate everything) while you play.
If it works there, it will go everywhere. Money is the same in NTSC or PAL. Not that this is anything particularly new for EA. They’ve always filled up their sporting titles with bonafide billboards and the like. The thing is, in that context, it makes perfect integrated sense: You do see those things when you go to the footy or whatever. But to be assaulted by them at your innocent little FPS’ start-up screen? It feels markedly more galling, especially in the context of a game that desperately requires its masters put their efforts into making it work instead of meta-monetising it.
There are valid arguments on both sides, though some of the pro-ads crew do tend to veer off into apologist territory. By the same token, the no-ads patrol can just devolve into self-importance and predictably anti-EA cynicism. Attending to reality is more helpful: EA, like any corporation, want to make money. Duh. They are now experimenting with new ways to do that within their existing infrastructure. Standard.
In a perfect world, they’d make these ads as unobtrusive as possible and use whatever extra revenue comes their way to better what they produce. It can be done. Vice just put Murdoch’s 5% stake to good use with Vice News, for example, which almost immediately produced some of the best reporting on the Ukraine so far.
It pays to the look at the company. So let’s look at EA’s track record, honestly and fairly, leave your personal gaming grievances at the door: If this takes off and you’ve got ads flying at your face before you get dropped into EA kill zones, is that gonna be for the greater good?