Microsoft has just announced buying Massive Inc, a private company that places ads on videogames. New York based Massive employs around 80 employees and boasts advertisers such as Coca-Cola and Honda. They generally offer a kind of digital/virtual product placement service. So, you could find yourself driving a Honda in that next car racing game.
I guess Super Mario could turn into Bono and sing the latest U2 song while flying a Bombadier private jet!
But, gaming seems at be all the rage for tech and media companies right now. And Microsoft's planned purchase highlights a belief among game-industry executives that videogames could become a large new medium for advertising.
Major media companies have also begun to increase their investments in game-related media to ensure they stay abreast of consumers' tastes. This week, Viacom paid $102 million to acquire Xfire Inc., a start-up that operates an instant-messaging service that connects gamers over the Internet. Last September, News Corp agreed to pay $650 million to acquire IGN Entertainment Inc., a company that operates a collection of Web sites for game enthusiasts.
I am just left wondering whether Microsoft's purchase of Massive may prove even more industry changing than revealed thus far. I wonder whether one day gamers will get their video games for free as the cost will get subsidised by an ever increasing ad pot.