EA’s In-House Sales Shot Grazes Microsoft

Electronic Arts’ decision last week to take its in-game advertising business in house represented a body blow to third-party vendors such as Microsoft’s Massive Inc. and IGA Worldwide. But the companies are pressing forward.

“Clearly we liked our partnership with EA,” said Jay Sampson, senior director, emerging media at Microsoft. “But on an impressions basis, EA represented just a percentage of our overall inventory—probably close to a quarter of our titles.”

Sampson said that Massive continues to maintain partnerships with other top game publishers like Activision, allowing it to sell marquee titles like Guitar Hero. Plus, the company will still be able to sell inventory in EA’s 2010 slate of games for the duration of its life cycle. So will IGA, which will continue to provide EA with ad-serving technology in its games played on the Sony PlayStation platform.

Going forward, Sampson believes that EA’s announcement could bode well for the in-game ad industry overall since the biggest publisher in the business clearly sees revenue potential. “In order for dynamic, or the around-gaming ad story, to grow, we need really good, healthy publishers and competitors,” he said. “If it’s just us doing it, it’s one hand clapping.”