Poll Question 231 – Would you buy an SP game if it had advertising?

1st July 2011

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

A week or so ago I saw a news report about some server company advertising products in Counter-Strike: Source. I can’t find the article now but it said that Valve were not too happy about it, as the agreement specifically disallows it.

It got me wondering how us SP players would feel if there were real world advertising in our games. Let me give you a specific example. Half-Life 3 is announced with a retail price of 50 US Dollars. However, for 40 US Dollars you can get the advertising-subsidised version. Instead of Dr. Breen’s Private Reserve you got a Fanta or Coke machine. Instead of Combine Posters you got something else.

The design and layout of the ads would be very complimentary to the game so would “feel” right in some aspect but then “feel” wrong in others simply due to not being what we have come to expect.

Of course, those are the obvious examples and I am sure with a little thought Valve and you could come up with something a little more creative – in fact, as a side discussion, why don’t you do that. What cool advertising would you add to the games?

My quick answer would be some form of Arctic clothing brand for HL3.

Anyway, back to the base discussion.

Personally, I would rather pay the extra 10 Dollars and have a “pure” game, but not everybody can afford that or is bothered about these sorts of things. In fact, it really depends on how reduced the other version was.

Whilst the idea may seem crazy, and I don’t really believe Valve would sell out like this, the concept of F2P is all over the news recently and developers need to find other forms of income streams and this could be one way they do that.

So, how do you feel about in-game advertising for single player and multiplayer games?

The Poll


  1. I think that if the advertising is fit seamlessly into the environments of the game, I wouldn’t mind too much. It may even add to the ambience of the game if the advertising was designed in conjunction with the level design (Though, if it adds to ambience then it probably isn’t really doing its job of standing out).

    However, if they are just throwing advertising in there for the sake of making extra cash, then I object. We are bombarded with enough advertising everyday as it is. I don’t want to see the games I play look exactly like what I see outside in the city.

    I think that in-game advertising needs to have a completely different quality to what is already out there before I am ready to accept it.

  2. Hec

    Oh that would be annoying, I mean left HL world into that Hl world not outside, don’t bother with McDonals or Pepsi, who cares, maybe in a mod it’s ok, if u want to create the enviroment, of our world full of brands taken by the CMB, Like fighting ur way out from a Walmart, taken by the CMB as an oupost or something would be cool, but in a game oh no, I mean I think Toronto Conflict city7 mod, recreates perfect some parts of toronto and I think we can see some panasonic’s adds there, buts is ok FOR THE MOD, not for the real HL plot or game itself!!

  3. I voted maybe, because there are a lot of dependencies for it to work.

    The game would have to be appropriate for advertising. A fantasy game has little place to advertise modern products and the Half-Life 2 world has little place for pristine McDonalds advertising.
    However Half-Life 1’s vending machines could easily have been Coca Cola vending machines and games in modern settings could easily have billboards and poster of contemporary products.

    Most important is that they don’t just slap an advertisement on some sort of designated place with little regard to the art direction and setting.

  4. MikeS

    I wouldn’t mind in the slightest. In fact, I’d prefer to see an advertising boarding with a poster for (for example) Pepsi to one that advertises something obviously made up, like Acme Cola. The former example would make it more real as far as I’m concerned. I would only object if it started to impinge on the gameplay. I mean, if I had to watch a cut-scene where Alyx sat back and took a long refreshing pull on a can of Pepsi and waxed lyrical about its flavour…then I’d be pissed off. 🙂

  5. Kasperg

    In the last level of The Citizen Part II, there is a stand with Coca-cola tables and Coca-cola canopy (in that case with the Russian logo) to which most players probably didn’t pay too much attention. That means the possibility of integrating advertising is there.

    I’ve seen some racing games (Need for Speed I think) that had a lot of publicity everywhere (same in other sports game where they’d put it in the real places where the stadium has them) but I think it fits there because those events DO have a big relationship with sponsors and brands.
    On a singleplayer map, soda machines are really all that comes to mind outside of a proper city enviroment.
    Objects with brands doesn’t sound like a good idea because (in the case of HL2), small props have small textures and are rather undetailed. Bringing up the level of detail to only some of those with brands would be distracting.

    I think one of the most distracting things about it though would be actually knowing that there’s publicity in the game. If as a player you’re not told, you’d think it was just detail. Knowing is what would make it more distracting I think.

    1. Hec

      In the last level of The Citizen Part II, there is a stand with Coca-cola tables and Coca-cola canopy (in that case with the Russian logo) to which most players probably didn’t pay too much attention

      Oh god I didn’t pay attention to it, could u pleas post a shoot image??, that’s a cool detail!°

      1. Kasperg

        Screenshot #86 of The Citizen Part II here at PP.

  6. Bramblepath

    I would not buy it on principle: advertising is an invasion of public space, but it also invades our minds. If I did have it, I’d change the textures to remove them from the game.

  7. Kyo

    I don’t mind advertising in games if it fits the world. Sports games obviously have an easier time with this, since stadiums are always decked out in advertising. But it could work in any game that takes place in the “real world.”

    Rather than be cheesy, I think it can add authenticity when it’s done right. Especially when a player can take real world knowledge and apply it to a video game, it creates a powerful connection because it makes you see a familiar location in a new light. Suppose you had to be hunkered down inside a McDonalds or a Wal-Mart during a zombie invasion. How would you exploit that environment based on what you know about it? You’d probably visit the Wal-Mart snack area for sustenance. You’d probably raid the sporting goods section for firearms. No one has to tell you to do this – you already know based on location familiarity.

    Thing is, it’s not surprising that many companies wouldn’t want to lend their names to a violent shootout. Unfortunately, it happens often enough in the real world that it can hit too close to home and become tacky and controversial instead of authentic.

    At the very least, a game should be true to its own internal advertising. Games like Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row have dozens of in-game businesses with their own brand names which are advertised throughout the game world on posters and billboards. Saints Row even goes insofar as to have their ads play on the car radios when they have a sale. This makes them feel more authentic rather than just “the store where you buy guns.”

  8. Jack

    I might buy a game with ad’s IF the price were about half the price of the game without ad’s. The example for the poll of $10 off $50 would not be enough for me to suffer ad’s in a game I play to relax and escape the world.

  9. Rikersbeard

    I don’t think game companies would want to waste money on two versions of a game where the only difference is a few, more likely a lot, of different textures or skins just concerning adverts. They would include them in the game and give you no choice!
    If I wanted the game I would have to buy the one they sell and hope like hell they do not try to incorporate adverts during gameplay! Cutscenes becoming adverts. There’s a nasty thought!
    If the choice were offered I would go for the non-commercially based version even if it was the more expensive option.
    As for the HL Universe, I love the often witty made up products and posters that litter the game and especially the mods.

    Imagine watching your favourite hour of tv only to find the show is only 4o minutes long due to no advert breaks! What would you do with all that free time?

    How I hate adverts…………..rant!

    I have played a few commercially based games in the past. “Superfrog” , for one on the ” Amiga” used “Lucazade” , an energy drink, for energy!

    How about a mappers competition to see who can get the most product placement into a short combat map!

  10. Flamov

    For me it would really depend on the type of advertising. I remember in Battlefield 2142 there being advertisements for Intel CPUs, which was a bit funny considering the place and setting the game was in.

  11. Major Banter

    There’s a lot of chances of it being completely out of place.

    However, I’ve always found a lot of in-game adverts to be lazy, crappy jokes and really spoil the immersion for me.

    Personally, I like the STALKER Complete approach. They changed the vanilla ‘vodka” to ‘stolichnaya’, an actual Russian vodka that I could go down the street and buy. It was subtle and completely seamlessly added.

    That’s how it would work for me.

    I have to say I love the idea of a Product PlacementVille

  12. Blue Lightning

    Of course the very best game to address this, is BioShock.

    Not only did you have the neon sign advertisments like in Fort Frolic, but you had the public service announcments in Medical Pavillion and other places. I asked 2K games (for Bioshock 2) to actually make those PA announcments jingles about real products, and then sent them some examples from YouTube of 1950’s Maxwell house coffee jingles and Coke commercials and they should actually use ingame. They declined for whatever reason. To me, that is an act of cowerdace. They could of easily gotten permission from those comapnies to run those original jingles, the game would of felt way more real and been incredible.

    As good as B2 turned out, it would of been way better. I sometimes feel that the game makers are just more interested in making a quick game and getting out to shelves, rather than doing it right.

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