“Battlefield 2142” hits store shelves and brings in-game ads with it.

Electronic Arts just let loose Battlefield 2142, the latest iteration of the Battlefield series of First Person Shooters,  onto store shelves and it brings with it an in-game advertising system developed by IGA Worldwide. Basically it places real-world ads into the video game so that advertisers can get their products back in front of the eyes of gamers who aren’t watching as much TV these days and earn a few bucks for the game publishers in the process. Battlefield 2142, along with Need for Speed: Carbon, is one of the first games to use the advertising system and to try and offset any controversy about it the folks at EA included a sheet in the game box with a brief and vague explanation of the ad system:

The Software may incorporate technology developed by IGA Worldwide Inc. (“IGA”) (the “Advertising Technology”). The purpose of the Advertising Technology is to deliver in-game advertisements to you when you use the Software while connected to the Internet. When you use the Software while connected to the Internet, the Advertising Technology may record your Internet Protocol address and other anonymous information (“Advertising Data”). The Advertising Data is temporarily used by IGA to enable the presentation and measurement of in-game advertisements and other in-game objects which are uploaded temporarily to your personal computer or game console and charged during online game play. The Advertising Technology does not collect any personally identifiable information about you, and EA will not provide IGA with any of your personally identifiable information. The servers used by the Advertising Technology may, from time to time, be located outside your country of residence. If you are located within the European Union, the servers may be located outside the European Union.

This, of course, resulted in nothing but angry and confused gamers as the explanation was vague enough to raise privacy concerns. What “anonymous” data was it collecting and why? Could it be checking your browser history to see what websites you were going to? The fact that the letter goes on to say that simply installing the game implies consent to have this data collected with no real means of opting out only made things worse. If you want to play the game and not have data collected or ads displayed then they suggest you don’t play it on a machine connected to the Internet. Seeing as online multiplayer is one of the big draws of any FPS that seems like a pretty idiotic suggestion to make.

So with the reaction to this going so badly EA figured they should try to clarify things a bit:

The advertising program in Battlefield 2142 does not access any files which are not directly related to the game. It does not capture personal data such as cookies, account login detail, or surfing history.

BF 2142 delivers ads by region. The advertising system uses a player’s IP address to determine the region of the player, assisting to serve the appropriate ads by region and language. For instance, a player in Paris might be presented with ads in French. The information collected will not be repurposed for other uses.

Battlefield 2142 also tracks “impression data” related to in-game advertisements: location of a billboard in the game, brand advertised, duration of advertisement impression, etc. This information is used to help advertisers qualify the reach of a given advertisement.

Personally the advent of dynamic in-game ads has been on the horizon for a long time and a few other titles have been doing it for awhile already so I’m not really upset that EA has finally gotten in on the act. It’s not like they’ve not announced this was coming previously as I’ve written entries about it before. I said then that I didn’t have a big problem with companies using in-game advertising so long as A) it was appropriate to the game and worked into the environment well and B) they charged less for the game as a result of the revenue they would get from the ads. You know, give a little added incentive for putting up with ads in our games.

Checking a few online stores reveals that Battlefield 2142 is generally going for the usual $49.99. EA wants to have its cake and eat it too. It’s a good thing I’m not a huge fan of the Battlefield series as that makes the decision not to buy it much easier. With any luck by the time they get to a game I do care about the experiment will have proven unprofitable enough that they’ll drop it, otherwise I may have to decide not to buy a game on principle.

Note to EA: If you’re going to make us deal with ads in-game then drop the price of the software. You’ll sell more units and piss off fewer people in the process.

21 thoughts on ““Battlefield 2142” hits store shelves and brings in-game ads with it.

  1. 1. You’re asking EA to be kind to their customers. What the f*ck is wrong with you?!? They’re EA – which is spelled “F-U” BTW – and given their willingness to promise patches than renege, leaving customers fooked, asking for a price break from their ad pimpage is ludicrous.

    B. Showing commercials before movies – not trailers, TV spots – certainly made movies cheaper, didn’t they?

    3. If the game is set in 2142, why would there still be billboards pitching Axe body spray, Tiger Woods ‘07 and Mountain Dew?

  2. And yet, on name recognition alone, it will sell millions of copies in the first week.

    I’m done with the series; BF2142 is a sad rehash of BF2. They could have made the same game as a conversion and saved everyone the trouble. They even have the same bug hacks from BF2 in the new game.

    If they can’t be bothered to fix what they already know is broken, I can’t wait to see the colossal mistakes that were introduced. Any takers on a bet that there’s a privacy breech with the ‘anonymous’ data they’re collecting?

  3. I got to play BF2142 at E3 this year, and it was a bit of a letdown.  Same gameplay as BF2, just slightly different weapons and setting.

    For my money I’ll keep playing stuff on the 360 and while I wait for Enemy Territories: Quake Wars – that thing was awesome!  If they include ads, it would still be awesome – though maybe without the exclamation point.

  4. As the future of PC and Online games evolves we’ll see more of this type of behaviour. I thoroughly detest advertising in its forms and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least in someway influenced by it. You can ignore it, but brand awareness very likely sways my choice when I walk in to a supermarket to pick up items from shaving products to cans of beans.

    It would be nice to think that advertising reduces costs to the player, but in reality everyone knows its all to maximise the profits to someone else. If we’re very lucky then the future expansion packs might be free (BF1942 they were, BF2 they weren’t).

    On the other hand, perhaps if small banners in game is the way forward then ads on TV and movies will be reduced, that can’t be a bad thing. I’m sick of imported US tv which is only 40 minutes long to fill a one hour time slot.

    Is the collection of data a bad thing? Well of course it is. We have the ability increase our online security in all manner of means and yet there’s always someone trying to undermine it.

    As a warcraft player I’ve been letting someone scan my window titles for quite sometime and I live with it as its a one off, but if it becomes a more persistent issue then there’s every chance that consoles will become my favourite medium once more.

  5. Maybe they should run metrics on whether or not in-game ads (billboards, etc) get intentionally targeted by weapons.  Find out if people hate the ad.

  6. As production costs escalate, I think increasing in-game advertising is inevitable.  I haven’t got a problem with it in games with settings where advertising is appropriate and can even add to the realism and immersion, but I have a hard time seeing where that can be done in games with fantasy (and some sci-fi) settings.

    So in short, ads in recent history/modern/near-future and sports games, no big deal.  Sci-fi will be case by case, and I can’t see any advertising fitting in with TES: Obilvion.

  7. As a warcraft player I’ve been letting someone scan my window titles

    ???Can you explain what you mean with that???

  8. ???Can you explain what you mean with that???

    When you start WoW, Blizzard essentially starts a rootkit to monitor compliance with the ToS. You can read all the fun stuff it does here.

  9. I’m not 100% sure what its potential is, but I know it can scan the titles of windows / processes and has the capability of rehashing the information to allow Blizzard to see if you’re running any illegal 3rd party software.

  10. The Ads in BF2142 are in no-way appropriate ..its meant to be a dark future setting where an ice age has reoccurred and everyones fighting for habitable land.I imagine in such a future there wouldnt be a local mall to buy the latest golf game(or even golf courses for that matter!)
    Also EA’s smug little statement that if you dont like it,dont play on the net made me growl…Single player on all the BF games has’nt been worth the space on the damn discs – they’re online games fullstop.EA can gobble my crank.

  11. I bought the game and play it….The game is fine,but is too buggy. The only thing that concern me is that IGA is getting our IP address to send us “In-game Ads” saying that they will not monitor our files blah blah etc. (yeah right….) First of all, when you have an IP address from another person’s PC. You are their computer GOD…You can do whatever you want to it. Well, in my opinion…This is the last time I buy a game from EA…. EA screw it up badly allowing in-game ads tracking our IP address. Which is invading our privacy. I really do not care if they track me they will find nothing. I usually do all my bank accounts and other personal info the traditional way… So IGA, you got screw trying to monitor my PC….I have nothing in it. I do not mind pay the 50 dollars for the game….Thinking the other way I can practice programming with it (because I want to learn)

  12. By the way, there is a law that I heard about (I don’t know if is true) People can sue the company it doesnt matter the little paper that they gave you the terms of IGA…Why? Because there is no original signature (handwriting) that says that you agree to the terms. Another thing is that you pay 50 dollars to have the game only not the spyware. If you bought the game you have in your receipt the name of the game but not the spyware. That means that you can sue them for irregular something (don’t know the name) and lie to the consumer by not giving all the information about what the game contains in it. They only mention the game but not the ad. The info I got it from a chat, this guy say that if everybody around the world contact their lawyers from different countries you can make a global sue (it can be possible) depending of the lawyers too. Well, that is all I really do not know about laws. If you do investigate maybe you can find something to screw up EA for this stupid mistake they did.

  13. You are right Loco about bf2142 game. But I am here to tell something different….If you go around the forums you can see people defending so badly about the IGA stuff. Those people are the same EA workers pretending to be customers. How to find them out…check the many times that they make a thread…that’s it.

  14. Loco, I have no idea where this supposed law comes from, but even if it exists I doubt it is within the governing law of the EULA. I’ve yet to look at the EULA to see what laws it’s governed by, as I’ve no interest in the Battlefield series.

    As for launching a class-action lawsuit, you’d have to get past the fact you never needed to install the game, which is what’s necessary for the advertizing system to run. You open the game, start installing it and realize, “OMG there’s data-mining software on here!”, you are more or less entitled to take it back to the place of purchase because it was not possible for you to agree to the purchase until the EULA has been read.

  15. so badly about the IGA stuff. Those people are the same EA workers pretending to be customers. How to find them out…check the many times that they make a thread…that’s it.

    Not just EA does that. I’m pretty sure more than 80% of all the testimonials you see floating for products from condoms to funeral plans are contrived.

    It’s an old trick called “salting the pot”

  16. Anybody know where is the spyware from BF2142 is located or hidden (which file). Is there any way to take off that spyware?

  17. News for everybody, I found out a theory about bf2142. People you will not find any spyware, why? Because the spyware that they are using only works when you play online. What I am trying to say is that the servers that everybody are playing are not EA servers but IGA servers (is only theory). Think about it, when you read their terms in the little piece of paper. It says 2 words that are use for hacking. First word IP and second Monitoring. Just remember if you have somebody’s else ip address you can become their PC GOD. You can manipulate their files at your will. If my theory becomes true then they are hacking your pc. Do not worry about the spyware there might not be one. Get worry about your ip getting use from a third party. Here is another thing this is about BF2. Anybody know how to create a server for free (not to rent one) and being see online. I want to create a server to play with other friends. I read that people can create hack servers but they do not explain how (such a selfish people) if you do know explain to me I will appreciate it.

  18. Ok let me tell all of you about the spyware. Is really an Adware. I use pestpatrol and check all spyware and adware. There was only one that do not get delete because is on your register. The name of the Adware is CmdService. The adware is low in thread but still an adware. I was looking for a software to take it out. I find one name X-Cleaner but you have to pay for it. (by the way I am not supporting the products) I am going to try manualy because I believe is better. Well, have a nice time everybody.

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