Back in March 2007 I asked Would you pay for a mod? A similar question was raised just yesterday when Chris Fox asked in a comment: How much ad revenue do you think a mod could potentially generate, Phillip?
Let me address something similar before I talk about ad revenue.
Going back to paying for mods for a moment. I truly believe that some mods should be allowed to receive revenue for the work. The logistics and legality are not the point of this piece, just the general concept. I also feel that Valve could easily use Steam for this purpose.
So, onto the question of whether mods should consider in game advertising? This really depends on exactly what type of advertising is used and for what products. Let’s assume that all the advertising we are discussing is controlled by the mod themselves and therefore suitable and potentially interesting for the player.
I am not an expert but there seem to be a few possibilities. Please feel free to add your own ideas as a comment below.
When a mod loads, either first time or after each save load, an ad could be displayed. These would need to be fixed, i.e. the escape key will not skip them. They would need to be fairly brief and probably limited to just a few. We have to suffer them when we load out game, why not a mod?
This could be a cool way to get your product noticed by the playing public but is very dependent on the product. I could easily see a can of energy drink being used in a game without ruining the atmosphere. There must be plenty of other products that would lend itself to this type of publicity.
For non-native English speakers, these are large metal or wooden boards that have printed advertisements on them. Of course the modern in-game version could be large monitors that display TV-type adverts.
Imagine my surprise when I first played The Citizen and saw the PlanetPhillip.com logo sprayed on the walls. The smile on my face was like a 6-year-old on Christmas day! (Thanks guys! – I have already thanked them privately. At least I think I have!) Anyway, this could easily be another possible area for advertising.
Voice Acting/ Story Inclusion
It may be possible for certain products to be added to a mod via voice acting or storyline inclusions. Perhaps the simplest implementation would be to name a location after a product. This happens in real life with many arenas and stadium named after sponsors, why not mods?
Any method used would need to ensure that the gameplay and general mood and atmosphere of the mod was not lost through a products inclusion. A mod should also be required to state that advertising is included.
How exactly would a publisher pay for this? Would it be a set fee, per download, per minute in view or gameplay? To be honest I have no idea and that is why somebody like Valve should be involved just to ensure everything stays on a professional level. I am sure you could comment on many, many possible problems with the implementation and unless somebody actuals starts to do it, I’d rather we didn’t discuss them here.
So far I haven’t answered Chris’s question and the reason is because I really don’t know. If I were an advertiser how much would I pay to get my product into? The Citizen has a current combined download (Via my servers) of nearly 2,500 (Which is a shame because it deserves much, much more!) IS one Dollar to much? Probably. how about 50 Cents or maybe 25 Cents. What about legal torrent downloads? Would a system need to be implemented where details of how many times the game has been played would be sent via Steam. Now we are really opening up some problems!
Zeroth404 said If a team charged for their mod, I would hope it was because they intend to use the profits to support their creative endeavors, and not simply for greed.. Now the same argument could be made for ad revenue. Would this stop people downloading and therefore playing the mods?
Whilst I understand the point of view we all know that Valve makes a lot of money, but that doesn’t stop us buying their games. Probably becasue we know (Or hope) they do it not for the money but because they love making games. The same has to be true for modders.
Of course receiving income may help the next mod be even better by allowing modders to use the money for out-sourcing services to professionals – voice acting, music etc.
As a concept I am open to the idea of ad revenue for mods, but and it’s a serious but, the product and implementation MUST NOT change the mod itself. I suppose one guideline would be it should be very easy for the advertising to be removed and the player enjoys the mod exactly as if there were advertising included.
Perhaps you feel that mods and fansites should be ad-free, if so please take the time to voice your opinion.