Microsoft Developing MMO “Advertars”

By Spencer . July 20, 2009 . 5:45pm


The Xbox Live dashboard ads won’t be the only ad supported revenue stream. Microsoft’s R&D department developed and patented a system for advertiser-generated avatars or “advertars”, as I like to call them. Here’s how it works.


MMO players or virtual world netizens may wear an advertiser-generated avatar and interact with other players, sort of like a walking billboard. Why would you want to do this? Microsoft plans to offer “compensation as payment for interacting with other avatars.”


OK, so why would a player want to interact with a walking sales pitch? Participants can also receive compensation for interacting with an in game advertisement. Advertars will run through a list of questions. The amount of compensation a player gets may depend on the number of questions he or she correctly answers. Make a mistake and you might have to see a “brand-accurate message” to continue.




“Compensation” isn’t set in stone, but Microsoft gave a few examples. It may be real world currency, virtual currency, points, or even virtual world objects like “virtual food to keep a virtual pet, such as a virtual dog (item 324 in figure 3B) alive and functioning.”


msftc1 msftc2

Figure 4 details the compensation system for players wearing an advertar. Figure 5 details the system for players that interact with the advertar.


And, finally, here are examples of how Microsoft could use the system in a game or virtual world.


In one example, to advertise the movie TRANSFORMERS, an advertiser may provide the robot BUMBLEBEE, which is a popular character in the movie, as the advertiser-generated avatar. The BUMBLEBEE avatar may include functionality to “transform” between the robot and the CHEVROLET CAMARO depicted in the movie. In another example, to advertise the cereal TRIX, an advertiser may provide the TRIX RABBIT as the advertiser-generated avatar. The TRIX RABBIT avatar may include functionality to say the popular catchphrase “SILLY RABBIT, TRIX ARE FOR KIDS.” In yet another example, to advertiser the ZUNE digital media player from MICROSOFT CORPORATION, an advertiser may provide an image of the ZUNE digital media player as the advertiser-generated avatar. The ZUNE digital media player avatar may include functionality to change colors, change models, and play various digital media.


Imagine playing a MMO. Now imagine playing the same game with a color changing Zune avatar and the Trix Rabbit shouting “Silly Rabbit, Trix are for kids!” during a raid.

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  • maxchain

    They will absolutely have my attention if something comes of the “virtual pet” part of the patent, and the sole way to keep it alive turns out to be answering ad questions.

  • Pesmerga00

    Wow this is just…… I don’t know? Dashboard ads piss me off enough as it is.

    I can live with billboards and such in racing games, because they are true to life, and sometimes add to immersion. People running around screaming adverts will get very annoying, especially if there is voice chat. I can see people spamming thousands of bots in WOW for profit. People will do this. Just look at comments on youtube every other one is some fake line having nothing to do with the topic ending in an advert(Usually repeated ten times for maximum effect). This can only end badly.

    The only acceptable place I could see this would be free to play MMOs. Even then though, just ugh.

    Is nowhere safe?

  • ElTopo

    Lol I play video games to avoid advertising. It seems like I can only enjoy this for so long. Im hoping this doesnt migrate across the pond to the PS3 and Nintendo platforms any time soon. Advertising on the menu of my gaming device is not something I’d be too pleased about. That sh*t should really be able to be turned off or ignored. I mean whats next, boot up windows and before I get to use my computer I have to watch a 30 second spot about dog food?

    Or “Hey I noticed your playing Call of Duty 4! Before you get into that how about a word from our sponsors…” Cue the advertisement.

    I really hope this bullsh*t move from Microsoft gets so much negative feedback that they really think twice about expanding this crap.

  • Name

    I thought usually paid subscriptions take away ads, not funding them to invent more ways to put ads in our console.

  • chidesd

    kinda lam isnt it?

  • Great because everybody likes paying for a service and getting advertisement up their ass. Well cable TV is like that and ironically I have cable TV (just because of a couple channels the parents watch.)

    • ElTopo

      This analogy is entirely wrong and yet for some reason people keep coming back to it. (Why in hell some idiots are defending M$ for screwing them over I don’t know). You pay the cable company to supply you with an appropriate tier of channels. This money goes into a very large upkeep of the cable network system, this money does not go back the actually stations. The stations provide “free” services in their content that you watch, this is then payed for entirely through advertising. Do you see how this is completely different? If M$ was running it like this, your games would be free.

      Instead what we have here is M$ charging you to use a very basic service, which requires very little upkeep, and then also supplying advertising while offering the customer no further benefits or incentives. Not too mention this only affects Gold Memberships, ie: paying customers. Its complete bullsh*t.

      Microsofts big $ is ruining gaming. Its bad enough some games subject you to in game advertising, but now something simple as just turning the system on, subjects you to a multitude of bullshit unrelated products. Not too mention, pre-order only virtual items (ie: guns for pre-order customers, special abilities to people who bought the game at a certain chain, special characters), DLC that could be reduced to little more then a cheat code or skin swap, the massive influx of shovelware pouring out of development houses with little to no quality assurance.

      Gaming is changing, and in many way for the worse.

  • Name

    This will clear out players in a hurry…

  • Sony actually owns the Trademark for ‘Avertar”

    Also, could you provide the patent info next time please?

  • good news from MS.

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