EA CEO's Thinks Charging $80 Per Game Isn't Enough. He's Looking at Inserting Ads

  • EA CEO Andrew Wilson claims there’s a team looking at “very thoughtful implementations” to add in-game advertising.

  • While in-game ads have been done before, players haven't receive them with open arms, and that's putting it lightly.

Electronic Arts
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Inserting advertising in video games has always been a topic of discussion for obvious reasons. Gamers don’t expect to find ads in games after paying $70-80 for them. However, it’s no secret that gaming companies have been looking into this. Some have even started to implement it, with varying levels of success.

Recently, Electronic Arts, more commonly known as EA, held a meeting to present its quarterly results to its investors. During the meeting, one of the attendees asked about ads in AAA games. The company’s response was clear: It’s looking into it.

What kind of ads? As seen on page 12 of the meeting's transcript, the question was raised by Eric James Sheridan, an executive at Goldman Sacks. Sheridan inquired about “the market opportunity for more dynamic ad insertion across more traditional AAA games across different formats” and how there might be “revenue opportunity over the medium to long term.”

This is what EA CEO Andrew Wilson said in response:

To answer your question on advertising broadly, again, I think it's still early on that front. And we have looked over the course of our history to be very thoughtful about advertising in the context of our play experiences. But again, as we think about the many, many billions of hours spent, both playing, creating, watching and connecting and where much of that engagement happens to be on the bounds of a traditional game experience, our expectation is that advertising has an opportunity to be a meaningful driver of growth for us.
We'll be very thoughtful as we move into that, but we have teams internally in the company right now looking at how do we do very thoughtful implementations inside of our game experiences. But more importantly, as we start to build community and harness the power of community beyond the bounds of our games, how do we think about advertising as a growth driver in those types of experiences?

Bottom line. Wilson believes it’s “still early” to discuss advertising in traditional video games. While it’s common for sports games to feature ads, placing them in a high-profile game like Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a different matter altogether. However, the idea is being explored, and the exact meaning of “very thoughtful implementations” remains uncertain.

Electronic Arts Nike product placement in EA Sports FC 24. | Image: 3DJuegos

Great potential. During the meeting, Sheridan also asked about the possibility of making movies and shows based on EA’s franchises. This question makes perfect sense considering the success of Fallout. In any case, though Wilson gives a somewhat vague answer, he does mention that users watch “billions of matches played across FC [the soccer game formerly known as FIFA] experiences.” If we add titles such as Madden, The Sims, Battlefield, and Apex Legends, EA has a huge audience that it can show ads to. This not only includes the players themselves, but also viewers watching gamers play on Twitch, YouTube, TikTok, and other platforms. Only time will tell how and if EA will approach inserting ads into its games.

Precedents. Advertising has been a controversial topic in the world of video games for quite some time. In 2007, Crackdown faced criticism for displaying ads for Zack Snyder’s 300 movie. In the following years, many other games followed suit, displaying ads for products and even political campaigns.

Some examples include Burnout Paradise, which featured ads encouraging players to vote for Barack Obama; Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, which offered power-ups for Doritos and Mountain Dew; Alan Wake, which featured Verizon as a mobile network operator; and Mario Kart 8, which included Mercedes-Benz as a playable vehicle.

EA, in particular, has faced criticism for including ads in its games. For instance, NBA 2K21 showed ads during loading screens, while ads for The Boys appeared in the middle of UFC matches. Needless to say, players who paid for these games weren’t pleased. Other companies, including Ubisoft, have also faced backlash for similar actions. It’s easy to see why.

Image | 3DJuegos (edited by Xataka)

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