Madden Blitzing Gamers With In-Game Ads

A recent update has apparently released a downloadable patch on Madden NFL 10 that forces players to stare at ads before every snap, Ripten reports.

Blogger Chad Lakkis writes, rather colorfully:

The game now feature an advertisement for Madden Arcade that flashes on the screen — before every f_ck_ng snap!!! Are you f_ck_ng kidding me? Every snap? That’s just going too far. If you play with 15 minute quarters and the new accelerated clock feature, that adds up to well over 100 ad impressions each game.

It’s not even like the advertisement is subtle The damn thing is the equivalent of a white flag that pops out of a gag gun with the words “BANG!” on it. Got that visual? Good. Now picture someone standing in front of your TV pulling the damn trigger every 10 seconds. BANG! … BANG! … BANG! … MADDEN ARCADE AVAILABLE NOW! … BANG! … BANG!!

Since publisher EA has a captive audience with its football game thanks to its exclusive NFL license, gamers can do nothing but complain… And consider buying Madden NFL Arcade.

EA In-Game Advertising Abuse: Madden Arcade Ad Flashes Before Every Madden 10 Snap [Ripten, via Kotaku]

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  1. DJBS77 says:

    I bet even if they bought Madden NFL Arcade, the ads would not go away.

    • LBD "Nytetrayn" says:

      Indeed, they mention this to be the case.

    • privax says:

      Those advertisements on the bottom right of the screen can be turned off within the settings option.. something along the lines of just lowering it a notch to still allow for in-game advertisements along the stadium walls etc.. or completly turning everything off. I’ve seen advertisements from McDonalds to Ford/Microsoft and they only show when you’re connected to Live.

  2. cynical_reincarnation says:

    Despicable.

    If I buy a game, I expect not to be advertised to within.
    If you want your game supported by ads, give it away for free.

    Don’t double dip, BAD FORM.

    • justagigilo85 says:

      Good point. But something tells me that EA will say something along the lines of, “trying to reduce the forever increasing costs of making a video game,” even though it’s practically the same damn game every year.

      Watch.

      • Sanspants says:

        Didn’t EA have in-game ads for the latest Burnout too? I think those were billboards which aren’t in your face as much.

        • RandomHookup says:

          Yeah, it makes sense to incorporate ads into the environment, just like at a real football game…which seems to be nothing more than a steady stream of ads anyway.

        • subtlefrog says:

          Burnout wasn’t EA, but yes, they had ads. And they were seemlessly integrated so most people didn’t have to pay much attention. The uproar over those died down fairly quickly because they were easily ignored. EA should take a clue from Criterion Games, the studio who did Burnout.

    • Guppy06 says:

      Except that consumers have been putting up with this kind of thing with movies for years. I can’t remember the last time I saw a DVD from a major studio that wasn’t packed with advertising, often rigged so that it can’t be skipped. And yet they still get sold.

      This is going to keep going (and get worse) until people actually reach the point where they actually stop buying the stuff, and while there are plenty of complaints, I’m not seeing any meaningful “I won’t be buying 2k11!” declarations.

      • Jerkface says:

        It will never get bad enough that people just stop buying it. You may not be old enough to remember, but one of the main draws of cable TV used to be the absence of advertisements.

    • ikiddo says:

      Welcome to the year .. Err .. Errmm

      In game ads are old. They have been there for a long time and will continue to be there. Heck I even did part of an essay about this last year!

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In-game_advertising

      Yeah its wiki .. not the best source. But you get the idea.

      • BugBlatterBeast says:

        In-game advertising is old, but it is not okay to update the game to include them after you purchase them. If the advertising was in place when the game was released, savvy buyers who read reviews would realize that it is a problem with the game. EA is slimy to make this as an update.

        (FWIW, Wikipedia is an excellent resource tool. It allows people to get a basic understanding of a topic then scroll down to read source documentation for a deeper, cited understanding.)

  3. pop top says:

    If I was a Madden fan, I would trade-in/sell my copy immediately and encourage others to do the same. I’d also stop buying all Madden products until this is fixed. Fans need to show the NFL that allowing one company to have a monopoly on the license isn’t good for their bottom line. EA could care less. Then I would play the hell out of some Tecmo Bowl.

    • enthreeoh says:

      Why would they care if you trade-in/sell your game? They’ve already been paid.

      • pop top says:

        If you no longer have that game, you wouldn’t want to buy extras for it from PSN or XBL, would you? That’s extra capital for them. It’s also a way to show your displeasure. If they see the numbers of people playing Madden going down drastically and that happens to coincide with that stupid advertising, maybe they’ll pull it out.

      • wrjohnston91283 says:

        It also means one other person could buy it used, meaning one less sale for EA.

        • Smashville says:

          I’m sure they’re so scared. :-

          • pop top says:

            That’s not the point. This site is all about voting with your dollar and not letting corporations bully consumers around. Whenever someone actually advocates doing exactly that on this site, others start crying about how X company is so big and it won’t matter and blah blah blah. Why even be here with that kind of attitude?

            • Smashville says:

              Did you miss the concerned look smiley?

              EA has a monopoly on NFL games. As I mentioned below, they could put out a blank disc and call it Madden NFL 11 and it would probably still sell because it was the only NFL game out there.

              Until they are allowed to have competition, there aren’t enough people out there to affect the bottom line. It’s not like you can actually vote with your dollars. If you want an NFL game…you have to buy EA’s product.

              • pop top says:

                You can vote with your dollar by NOT buying it. Buy that weird NFL Blitz game where you can smash up players’ faces or something. If people aren’t buying Madden, then the NFL will see their profits go down and maybe they will re-think the monopoly they gave to EA by allowing them to be the only one with the license to make NFL games.

                And I used to work at Gamestop, so I know about the people who will buy Madden regardless of what’s going on. I even had a guy yell at me when 2K lost their license to make NFL games because he didn’t want to buy EA’s version of Madden, which he did anyway right after yelling at me…

        • bdgbill says:

          Excellent point. Game companies HATE used games. The industry would love nothing more than to sell games by download only and licensed to a single console (a la Xbox Live). This eliminates the used market and all that pesky sharing of games. When you have finished a game or are tired of it you simply delete it and it’s gone forever.

          Oh, and even though the company saves millions by not pressing discs, packaging discs, shipping discs and sharing profits with retailers, don’t expect them to pass any of those savings onto the customer.

    • lotussix says:

      If I was a Madden fan, I would trade-in/sell my copy immediately and encourage others to do the same.

      If you were a Madden fan, you wouldn’t because you would realize that there isn’t a better football game out there right now.

      It’s really not different than going to a real NFL game where advertisements bombard you, nor it is really different than watching a game on TV as there are advertisements everywhere. Even UFC has “the time clock brought to you by …” while they are in a ring with is basically a billboard that people fight on.

      • pop top says:

        You’re really missing the point of my post. It’s not about “OMG it’s the only one out there and I have to play it” and just bend over and take the advertising. You don’t have to play it. Vote with your dollar. Like I said further down, if you have that kind of defeatist attitude w/r/t consumers challenging large companies, what are you doing on this website?

        • sn1per420 says:

          You haven’t met the average Madden fan, have you? These people buy the same game year after year, and they don’t even wait a couple weeks for it to get discounted. I once asked a madden fan if it was honestly worth paying $60 every year for what was essentially a roster update, and he told me he “had no choice but to buy it.” EA has them hooked, and they know it.

    • axhandler1 says:

      Tecmo Bowl is one of the best football games out there.

  4. Trickery says:

    Advertising in games is not new. Sometimes it even adds to the realism seeing a billboard advertising “Avatar” off in the distance in game while I’m stealthily killing baddies.

    However this new form of advertisement in Madden is akin to a popup window or flash animation. Too bad there is nothing you can really do about it like an option to turn it off.

    To the EA message boards!

  5. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    Well, I might accept ads like this if in return, I didn’t have to hear John Madden.

    • pop top says:

      Now if I could hear Frank Caliendo’s John Madden, I think I would actually pick up that game. It’s the only funny thing that man did during his entire MadTV stint.

      • tbax929 says:

        Frank Caliendo has never done anything funny. God, I can’t stand that man.

        • hubris says:

          Oh god, thank you. So many people lose their mind over Caliendo and he’s HORRIBLE. It’s the same damn voice, and all he does is say words in a particular way which is the only reason you can tell who he’s “impersonating”.

        • pop top says:

          You guys are jerks. ;) It’s the only worthwhile thing he did on MadTV.

          When I was in Vegas earlier in the month, we stayed at the Monte Carlo, which is the hotel he has a show at. Imagine every time you use the elevator you have to hear the same five impersonations (even though they’re different people) over and over again. His DeNiro, Pacino, Nicholson and Robin Williams sounds exactly alike; his Leno is horrible. He even gets in blackface to do Charles Barkley…

    • Smashville says:

      Except it’s not Madden now. It’s Tom Hammond.

      Which is worse for so many reasons.

  6. wrjohnston91283 says:

    From the comments on the linked site, it appears the ads have stopped, as of December 21st.

  7. infamousjre says:

    Paying $60 to have ads thrown in your face? Disgusting

    • searonson says:

      Yeah because people pay more than $60 for cable TV, but they don’t have to watch ads there. Oh wait…

      • pop top says:

        That’s not a legitimate analogy whatsoever.

        • AdvocatesDevil says:

          Yeah, I have no idea how anyone defends this. Poor analogies show poor thinking, I suppose.

          • Scatter says:

            How is this a bad analogy?

            Keep in mind that when you buy a game you don’t really own the game, you just own the media that its own and you have a license to play the game.

            • pop top says:

              “How is this a bad analogy?”

              I’ll just throw out an easy one: You can skip commercials when they’re on TV, but you can’t skip them when they are the loading screen of a game.

              • searonson says:

                What?? How can you not just walk away from the loading screen and come back when it is done?

                • pop top says:

                  Did you even read the article? The author says that the advertisement happens EVERY time there’s a snap. You’re saying that someone should get up for the X amount of seconds the screen takes to load every single time that there is a snap for the whole game? Do you realize how ridiculous that is?

                  • crash357 says:

                    He’s not saying it’s not ridiculous…he’s saying it’s possible. Same as how it’s ridiculous to get up and walk away from commercials on TV.

    • diasdiem says:

      No more disgusting than paying $60 for what is essentially the same game you bought last year, and the year before that, ad infinitum, with only minor feature and graphic updates.

  8. Fineous K. Douchenstein says:

    I think this is very poor form. There should at least be a means to turn off the feature. I don’t play sports games, but any in-game ad that was splashed across the foreground of my screen instead of being cleverly placed in the background would quickly turn me off playing the game.

  9. Skellbasher says:

    It’s been a couple weeks since I played it, but EA’s NHL10 was displaying ads in game on the boards for some time. They weren’t as obtrusive as the Madden ones, but it’s noticeable when you see Danica Patrick’s head staring at you during a faceoff,

    • corkdork says:

      The hockey ads seem more… well, realistic. Every hockey game I’ve been to, from major juniors through the NHL, there’ve been ads on the boards. While there are on-screen ads during football, ads before every snap seem a bit over-the-top. Perhaps some digital billboards that dynamically update their content from game to game, or something? Different sponsors for replays, or the announced game MVP’s?

      • Skellbasher says:

        Ads at hockey games are normal, yes.

        These ads seem very out of place though. Usually they’re a company logo, something simple on a while background. The ads that they put in NHL10 are very graphical, with dark colored backgrounds that contrast mightily with the white boards everywhere else.

        • Smashville says:

          Hmm. On my NHL 10, they just look like the normal board ads that they have in every single arena in the league.

        • nickster says:

          It’s true, the ads in NHL 10 are pretty graphical. I’ve only seen 2 of them, one of them was for transformers 2 coming to blueray. I found it to be pretty neat.

          Keep in mind that in NHL 10 there is only 1 billboard that changes ads. It’s the on just to the left of the goalies net. Even at that I didn’t find it changed very often as I saw the same one for 3 days.

  10. Puckstopperga says:

    It is rather annoying, especially to the level reported in the article. But it certainly is nothing new for EA. My copy of NCAA 07 talks about the “Pontiac Drive Summary”. Madden 09 boasts the “Coke Zero Mascot Mini-Game”. And those are just the ones that I can remember at 8:30 in the morning.

    This is why I buy my EA games used. I don’t want to pay $60 for a game filled with ads. But whenever I do buy an EA game, used or not, I expect the ads. Guess it’s a live and learn thing.

    Also try the ESPN 2k series games. They’re cheaper, sometimes better made, and IIRC, contain fewer ads.

  11. Bagumpity says:

    Has anybody found the IP address of the ad server? A simple firewall rule could probably route all requests to the Island of Misfit Packets.

    • infamousjre says:

      FTA, it was downloaded in an update. So its not contacting the server each time, it is probably stored somewhere in your game console’s storage.

  12. ubermex says:

    A little bit of advertising in a game is no big deal, but when it starts to become obvious that they’re using the internet model of total ad support, even though you already paid 50 bucks, it has gone too far.

    I mean, online play isn’t free, so they have to have constant income somehow to keep the servers up, but there is definitely a line. There was a time when ads like that made up for an ENTIRE GAME being free.

  13. TouchMyMonkey says:

    I would think the way they do it ought to be authentic, that is, similar to the sort of thing you might find on ESPN or Fox Sports. But every snap? Sounds like sloppy programming to me.

  14. justagigilo85 says:

    This is a real slippery slope. I can see a company in the future artificially inflating loading times to squeeze more advertising in.

  15. lannister80 says:

    Fuck you EA. Seriously.

  16. B says:

    Nice try, EA, but if you really wanted to be realistic, it’d be ads for beer and ED drugs.

  17. Joedragon says:

    Sounds like comcarp cable add’s on each F*** page of the guide.

  18. davebg5 says:

    Actually, gamers CAN do something…don’t by new copies of Madden. Go to Gamestop or eBay and buy a used copy of the game. Publishers get nothing out of used game sales. Show EA they’re not getting any of your money if this is how they are going to treat their customers.

  19. dragonfire81 says:

    I’ve told my gamer buddies many times that this will become the new norm for games. Advertising and video games are getting more and more interconnected by the day. I think as games rely more heavily on multiplayer modes and online content, this is just going to become more common.

    I don’t have a problem with the ads, but there should be an option for gamers who do not want to see them.

    Then again this is EA so I can’t say I’m really surprised. It’s too bad that exclusivity license allows them to be such bullies with this stuff.

    • zlionsfan says:

      There’s a big difference, though, between the way ads can be integrated into games (say, the actual billboards in Burnout Paradise and Crackdown, or the dasher boards in NHL 10) and the way ads are forced on Madden players.

      To be honest, sports games without ads in the appropriate places don’t look right. The problem here is that over the past few years, EA has been pushing Madden more and more toward the television experience rather than toward the in-game experience: drive summary sponsored by X, pregame matchup sponsored by Y, popups before every play, graphics between plays that obscure important parts of the screen …

      For several years, EA’s reputation has been slowly eroding among certain segments of their audience because of the way they tend to produce their series games (perception of lower quality, fewer changes from year to year, etc.) and the way they treat their employees (even though it’s apparently standard to screw over game developers, EA seems to have done it more notably than most). If there is a company that should be pushing the limits of in-game advertising, it probably shouldn’t be EA.

      And out of curiosity, I wonder how much Masterfoods/Mars paid for those Snickers placements in the game. You’d think it’d be enough to cover server costs for a reasonable amount of time (especially because EA doesn’t keep servers for older games available indefinitely) … EA sure didn’t pass any of that money along to customers.

  20. backwerds says:

    I am about 90% sure you can turn off the ads in the options for the game. There is something for in-game ads. I vaguely recall this while playing a few months ago. It might be in like Options > Visual or something.

    And you know what, if they continue to provide me with roster updates throughout the season (this season they have done one per week), I’ll gladly take a few ads. They are at the bottom right corner of your screen; they honestly don’t take that much space. It’s more like watching football anyways; if you really want something to be upset about, complain that the AFL legacy uniforms are an additional fee when they were included in past copies of the game or complain that EA is marketing sliders and other features to make your character better for a fee (NHL 09 had online roster boosts, Madden 10 has sliders to improve franchise modes)

  21. Smashville says:

    This is what happens when people buy your product no matter what. Over the past few years, EA has cut features, reintroduced old features as “new”, replaced a legendary play-by-play announcer with Tom “Jefferson Pilot Sports” Hammond and now introduced what is essentially intrusive advertising into the game. Yet it’s still the top selling franchise. They could probably get away with selling a blank disc with new “BLANK MODE”. This is what happens when only one company has license to make a product. Which is why EA’s NHL games actually are innovative. They have competition.

    I’m waiting for Madden NFL 11: Featuring Dave, Dave and Dave.

  22. Mighty914 says:

    I own the game and have been a big fan for years (I buy it every other year). I did notice that white ad for Madden Arcade, and although it’s a little annoying, it doesn’t really upset me the way it is for some people on this board (it seems like it’s more the principle of the thing for them, but oh well). I just don’t understand why I’d want to go to the arcade to play Madden if I obviously own it and can play for free whenever I want…with no quarter and no clothes.

    This isn’t actually the only advertising in the game either. While in franchise mode, you are *constantly* reminded that you can buy “accelerators”, which are cheats produced by EA. They give you small upgrades and are available for about 99 cents each.

  23. nybiker says:

    I am not a gamer, so I do not know how bad the experience is with in-game ads along the walls or on billboards (to me that’s still an ad & I would expect the game to be free, though). But putting up a pop-up ad and delaying the game (pun intended) is a despicable act.
    For me, ads have become way too intrusive in daily life. Yeah, some I can turn off or avoid, but some I can’t (the other night WPIX, Channel 11 here in NYC, was showing 2 tv anchors visiting the troops and they were talking with one while back in NYC his family was watching too & talking with them. Every time they went with a Picture-in-Picture display of the 2 scenes, there was the ad/logo of TD Bank. Why?)
    As others have said, don’t buy any EA games from them. That’s the only way it’ll get the point across. Hit ‘em where it hurts. And if you really want to slap some punitive punishment on them, never buy any EA game in the future. I realize though that not everyone will want to do that.
    Ok, time for my coffee now.

  24. m1k3g says:

    Advertising, in any and every form, is disgusting. If I want to buy something, I’ll go looking for it. I consciously avoid any website, game, TV show, or other ‘entertainment’ medium that shows ads. If I have to view or use any of them I make sure that I have the necessary blocking mechanisms in place. I will definitely never buy or use any EA games based on this. The ‘in-your-face’ attitude of so many companies these days is so offensive!

  25. Brazell says:

    Old news and it’s not before every snap and it’s not in every game.

  26. 339point4 says:

    Doesn’t this just make it more like real NFL football games on tv?

  27. -Slap- says:

    I put Electronic Arts on my boycott list years ago. I actually find articles like this highly entertaining. If consumers are too weak willed to protest this kind of treatment, they deserve whatever abuse they get.

  28. Colonel Jack O'neill says:

    I’m paying $60 a game, I don’t want any ads in it. And the Madden series sucks, 2k series was better.

    I’m always playing Forza Motorsport, they have ads on billboards and along the track, but they aren’t intrusive and they don’t bother me at all.

  29. sir_pantsalot says:

    The same people who shell out money every year to buy the same game they bought last year are now complaining about advertisements. They say a sucker is born every minute and Madden and EA have found their suckers. Does the game of football actually change so much every year that you need to buy a new game?

    • zlionsfan says:

      If you want to play online, yes, you do … the game doesn’t change, but your access to EA’s servers does. (This is secondhand knowledge; I play online very infrequently.)

  30. AI says:

    Real ads on in-game billboards in a racing game, or real ads placed on the stadium/field in a sports game: Perfectly acceptable and actually preferred by me, as it’s better than generic fake adds. Ads popping up in your face not presented as part of the game environment or adds for GAP showing up in a WWII game: NOT ACCEPTABLE IN ANY WAY

  31. Johnny Rotten says:

    If I owned this game, what would really irritate me is that the advertising didn’t come with the game, but was “shovelwared” down my throat in a patch. So basically I bought game A without advertisements, and I’ll loose my ability to play online if I don’t go to game B with advertisements.

  32. Froggmann says:

    When will advertisers ever learn? If you put out a horrendously annoying ad or resort to these measures people like me will NEVER BUY YOUR PRODUCT EVER AGAIN.

  33. XTC46 says:

    I am ok with this as long as they keep providing free stat updates etc. Somones gotta pay for those continuous updates for the teams.

  34. howie_in_az says:

    More than likely the game goes out to the interweb to fetch ads. If this is the case, one could set up their own DNS and web servers, modifying what ads get shown. This is very much like the “hack” for Sony’s Playstation HOME service, wherein the PS3 hits a certain URL for an XML-ish file and a bunch of jpeg images for storefront ads and the like.

    Imagine your friends’ surprise when, instead of Madden Arcade, an ad for goatse pops up.

  35. BewareofZealots says:

    Wow, the comments on here are pretty funny. Obviously most of the commenters have never played the game.

    I played madden 10 (as well as most of it’s predecessors). The game is pretty fun if you like football. This year they have added in a LOT of new features that involve the gamers paying EA more money. I rented the game, so I did not shell out $60+ for it. But in the game, to see more information in several areas they want you to buy “add-ons”. They’ve done the same thing in their NCAA 10 Football game. If you want a more detailed scouting report on a player you have to purchase their “Add-On” for that.

    This is how they repay the loyalty shown them by their fan base. The top selling franchises and they want more form their customers. I find it disrespectful of them to try to milk more money out of me. I won’t do it. They have ads before each game also. The game is brought to you by Coke Zero. They have ads for the replays, play of the game, etc. Each brought to you by ………….. it has gotten out of control.

  36. privax says:

    Those ad’s only show when your system is connected to xbox live, and within the settings menu you’re able to turn them off… something along the lines of in-game sponsoring and you can lower it one notch so that it’ll still show life like ads within the staidum and across the stands but not as a popup by the score.

  37. teke367 says:

    Just look at this as added realism, you probably see 100 ads in an NFL broadcast, not counting commericials. Its immersion.

  38. Smashville says:

    Do the companies have to pay money to be on the cars in the NASCAR games?

    • Thorzdad says:

      My guess is that is covered in their sponsorship contracts with the individual race teams. I bet the contacts for some these games can get pretty darn complex.

  39. trbofun says:

    Just the other day, I saw an “advertisement” pop up while playing Madden. I thought it was very odd and annoying until I read it.

    “Real men drive sober” or something along those lines

    I thought it odd, being in a football game and all. But I suppose you can never say it too many times.

  40. soj4life says:

    I have hated madden even since the ’08 edition because of the stupid ads in the game. I am already paying $50 for a game, you don’t have to make anymore money off of me.