As cops 'n' robbers MMO All Points Bullet reaches its North American release date tomorrow, prospective players have been researching the game's pricing structure in order to determine which subscription model will work best for them. Revealed at the end of April, APB's pricing seemed very flexible, with deals for pre-orders and unlimited playtime purchases. Realtime Worlds had also announced an in-game currency called RTW that can be used for incentives like character customization, game time and other heretofore unannounced uses.
However, last Thursday APB forum poster tripthedancers noticed a VOIP Premium button on his account page that promptly sent warning sirens screaming through the APB community. When used, the VOIP button will remove voice adverts from APB's voice chat anywhere from 30 to 180 days, depending on how much you'd like to pay to avoid being advertised to in-game.
Although APB community officer Toxico was quick to explain that the adverts only played infrequently and only when entering a district, many players are still infuriated over being advertised to in a pay-to-play environment. What makes the situation even worse is that Realtime Worlds failed to disclose the existence of voice-chat channel advertisements until they were caught.
Unfortunately, the enraged reaction to APB's voice adverts is probably less about this one specific example and more in response to the ongoing tug-of-war between the advertising industry, the gaming industry and the actual gamers. The first two desperately want a crack at influencing the coveted 18-34 male gamer demographic and the gamers are just generally sick of being advertised to.
For the gamers, however, this is probably a losing battle. Some estimates place in-game ads as a potentially significant revenue stream, to the tune of several billion dollars over the next few years and even more going forward. That being said, gamers would probably lose a lot of vehemence toward such ads if money earned through in-game advertising were being passed on to the consumer. For example, if games featuring heavy advertisements were sold at a discounted rate, gamers might find themselves changing their tune and even welcoming advertisements, so long as they didn't ruin a game's sense of immersion.
What's your stance on in-game advertising? Is it an opportunity to expand the industry or a blight that represents all the worst of free-market capitalism?
APB will be holding up virtual banks starting 6/29 in the U.S. and 7/1 and 7/2 in the EU and UK, respectively.