At One Time, Sony Toyed With In-Game Commercials

By Spencer . August 17, 2009 . 3:33pm

image The Wipeout HD ads that popped up during loading were annoying, but they’re small potatoes compared to a more antagonizing form of in-game advertising Sony was developing.


Sony Computer Entertainment applied for a patent that forcibly paused a game to display an ad and then resumed the game after the message was shown. Basically, Sony was working on in-game commercials.


Here’s an example of how the system could work.




Figure 2 illustrates slowing a game down is one of the ways players can be pulled from playing a game. Other examples listed include: a blinking light, an audio cue, and a warning message that says “game play is about to stop.” Once the game pauses players watch a commercial and a similar event (a blinking light, warning message) let’s players know the game is about to begin again.


After the ire Sony fomented with their Wipeout HD ads this plan is probably in the trash. But, what if Sony went through with this. Would a free with commercials version of LittleBigPlanet or God of War III be palatable?

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  • Ugh judging by that patent, they force you to stop midway through a race or boss battle to advertise some drink I don’t care about then when it resumes I mess up and have to restart.

    No thanks.

    I don’t mind ads for loading times but they better not screw with mid-gameplay adverts unless it’s a poster or billboard in a level.

  • Haha, what a bunch of dopes. The day that happens, I’m throwing the whole system out. Seriously, keep this garbage out of games. I can handle the billboards ads in games like Rainbow Six: Vegas. Actually, the way they did was pretty clever, using the glittery posters on the wall to advertise shows and whatnot. It added some realism.
    But, this, what Sony would have done would have totally killed gaming for me. I gave up on TV years ago for crap like this. Call me picky or selfish, but I believe this is not the direction video games need to be going. If you’re gonna make a game an ad make it like Cool Spot – not this.

  • Strike_Man

    “But, what if Sony went through with this. Would a free with commercials version of LittleBigPlanet or God of War III be palatable? ”

    Why give the product away (or even lower the price) when people are willing to pay full price for a game with ads already in it?

  • Jirin

    “Free with commercials”? So long as they’re kept out of any paid version in the game, I actually think that’d be a nice way to sample a game without paying for it. So long as I can than pay as usual and get a full version without the ads.

    • Ereek

      What do you think about XBox Live Gold, then? You don’t get that free and you still get advertisements.

      That said, I don’t typically play online, but I’d be okay with advertisements as long as they’re not intrusive and don’t hinder my experience. For example, the well known Coke/Squaresoft agreement about 8 years ago. Most of it was limited to Final Fantasy IX commercials, but Parasite Eve 2 had quite a few obvious Coca Cola machines and items to drink that were simply “cola” in name, but had the older coke design on the menu image.

      An advertisement popping up mid-game is unacceptable on something you’ve paid for. However, on some of these games you did only pay for the game itself and not the servers the game runs on. Servers that can cost quite a bit to manage. I think a way of advertising that doesn’t hinder the actual experience is fine and also helps keep the online services free.

      • Jirin

        What are we talking about here, are we talking about a few billboards circling a race track, or are we talking commercials popping up in the middle of gameplay?

        I feel the same way with games as I do with movies. If the scene calls for the character to be drinking a soda, why not let companies bid on what brand of soda the character is drinking? But if I’m paying money for something, don’t have commercials that interrupt gameplay, and don’t go out of your way just to create opportunities for advertisement.

        • Jirin

          Or in other words, I’m fine with advertising that doesn’t compromise the art. Having billboards on a racetrack or having a character choose Pepsi over Coke because Pepsi would pay more doesn’t do that, but having a bunch of products be shown in a fantasy or otherwise inappropriate setting would.

  • ElTopo

    These are the kind of things ruining gaming. Consoles built with terrible hardware, shovelware, DLC that unlocks content already on the disc, pre-order in game items or abilities, all this bullsh*t that this generation spawned. At least Sony decided not to go down this path, Microsoft is already headed this way with its in dash advertising that will probably expand beyond.

  • Saturnus

    Advertisements in games are perfectly fine. It’s always cool seeing posters on walls or billboards that display a product. It’s not in my face, and it doesn’t detract from gameplay.

    But stopping the game and showing an advertisement!? What bullshit, Sony what in God’s name are thinking?

    I’m glad this never worked out, or Sony would have shot themselves in the foot. Then dug their own grave. Then buried themselves.

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