In Anarchy Online the video and audio ads start playing on billboards or other appropriate locations when gamers enter select areas or zones within the game. This ground-breaking new advertising element has two distinct applications; it can be used to dynamically deliver television equivalent 15-second advertising spots, as well as audio messaging. The advertisements, using a combination of code created by Massive Incorporated and Funcom coders and utilizing technology licensed from RAD Game tools, do not increase latency, interrupt gameplay or gather personal information from players. Like the prior advertisements, those opting for the entirely free version of Anarchy Online will see the videos as a natural part of the city environments, while paying subscribers may opt in to view the content. The first video ads were unveiled to players at the four year anniversary for Anarchy Online in June, and brought fictional video advertisements from the warring factions in the game. Now the first paid video advertisements are in, with Panasonic and Channel 4 being the first companies to kick-start the new era for advertising in games.
“The visions we have had for Anarchy Online have been given a boost by this technology and the years ahead are now looking more promising than ever before.” said Trond Aas, CEO of Funcom. “We are once again first in bringing a great new innovation to the market, and by combining what players desire with what we need and what advertisers are requesting we are opening more doors of opportunity for us all. The high professionalism of Massive Incorporated, mixed with our own unique design and technology implementation, have made the advertisements a hit with the Anarchy Online population. Now we set our eyes towards the next ad evolution and Funcom is naturally pleased to be a driving force behind this innovation.”
No stranger to innovation, Funcom’s Anarchy Online has introduced numerous design and marketing innovations, including the 7 day free trial and the instanced dungeon / mission on demand system, while also being the first graphical MMO in the western world to be offered at no fee. Morten Byom, Game Director for Anarchy Online stated, “Ever since we started working with Massive we have seen how positive our players have been about the free subscription and the way the ads have created life in many areas of the game. I now believe that advertisements and games may form a perfect symbiosis in the years to come as long as it’s tastefully implemented.”
This new ability to bring exciting video advertisement to players from across the globe does not only open the door for advertisers, it also enables developers like Funcom to toy around with a wide variety of new design and marketing opportunities. Someday games like Anarchy Online might stage live concerts and live appearances, show the latest music videos in the clubs and even deliver in-character newscasts to entertain and inform players. The technology gives numerous possibilities and expands the opportunities for creative game developers.