Thursday, November 15, 2007
Gamasutra informed me (and the rest of the world) yesterday that AOL has recently announced that it is going to relaunch its gaming site, games.com, in order to increase advertising revenue (flaw #1 - not to give something back to the community, but to increase ad sales - not a good sign). They've done some cool things to the site, such as making navigation easier, and planning for 400 online and downloadable games and 20 online exclusive games by the end of the year. They are also trying to widen their demographic by targeting gamers of all ages, while their other gaming site, games.aol.com, will still be tailored to adult gamers.
However, the biggest change to the site seems to be their plan to whack their players over the heads with advertising every chance they get. This rather interesting strategy promises advertisers "deep in-game integration" by placing logos on the backs of cards in Solitaire, or on t-shirts being worn by the character calling out numbers in Bingo. Well, that much is all well and good - I am likely to notice the logos and make note of the fact that those companies were nice enough to sponsor my free game, and it doesn't interrupt my game play - everyone wins. Unfortunately, it doesn't end there. AOL also had the wonderful and incredibly unique idea (note the sarcasm) of including pre-roll ads and interstitials within the games.
Now, I'm an advertising student. I will go out of my way to look for ads online. I will flip through TV stations just to watch commercials. In other words, I'm a freak of nature. But if I'm playing a game, that's me time. In that time, I don't want to be harassed by commercials not just at the beginning of my game, but actually interrupting my game in the middle to tell me something I don't care about. I would imagine that people who are less enthusiastic about advertising as a whole would be even more upset by this idea than I am. I'm not sure that even "the best selection of online and downloadable game content on the Web" would be enough for some people to put up with all of that.