NEW YORK Double Fusion, a San Francisco-based startup that specializes in delivering ads into various forms of videogames, says it has a way to turn older games—the industry's version of reruns—into revenue generators.
The company is expected to announce on Sept. 4 the launch of fusion.runtime, which promises to bring dynamic videogame ads—that is, non-permanent ads that can change and rotate in real time—to hundreds of game titles long after they have been created. That solves a pressing industry need, say Double Fusion executives, since incorporating dynamic ads into games requires advanced planning and sophisticated coding, all of which can be skipped using fusion.runtime.
To kick things off, Double Fusion, which already works with PC game producers like THQ and 2K, has inked partnerships with game publishers Ubisoft and Oberon to use the new technology to deliver ads into their games.
PC game specialist Ubisoft intends to use fusion.runtime as part of a new initiative through which it will offer several older games from its catalogue for free on the Web, supported by advertising. Meanwhile, Oberon will use the platform to deliver ads within its sizable lineup of casual games, which are distributed on the likes of MSN and Pogo.com.
While the concept is untested, Jon Epstein, CEO, Double Fusion, said it could kickstart the dynamic ad business, which has been hindered by high expectations and slow growth. "This offers a significant benefit to game publishers, developers, advertisers and gamers," said Epstein. "For [game sellers], you can avoid time-crunch issues. And for advertisers, this gives them a lot more new content to work with."
Michael Cai, analyst at Parks & Associates, has yet to see fusion.runtime, but was bullish about the possibility of a more flexible in-game ad product. "It's pretty important, the reason being that we've been talking about in-game advertising for a while," said Cai. "But only this year have publishers been announcing games with ad integration.
"Many games only last six months in stores, but a lot of people may still be playing them," he added. "You have this vast library out there that could represent fairly big inventory. The question is: How do you aggregate that without a lot of effort?"
That, essentially, is what Turner Broadcasting System has been attempting with GameTap, a two-year-old service featuring a host of older arcade, console and PC games on the Web. Launched as a subscription business, GameTap recently offered some ad-supported games for free.
So far, GameTap has yet to incorporate dynamic, electing to run pre-roll video spots prior to games rather than "ripping open the code and dropping ads in the game itself," said David Reid, vp, marketing. Yet, if an easy technical solution presented itself, Reid said, "We'd be pretty interested."
But, according to Yoav Tzruya, executive vp and chief marketing officer at Exent Technologies, the concept of placing ads into existing games isn't new. His company launched a similar tool last year, though it has yet to run many campaigns in the U.S.
In the meantime, Exent is set to roll out another in-game ad product, dubbed Game Frame ads, giving publishers the capability to overlay banner-like ads in any game, then selling them as part of more standard online ad package.