At one time, gamers were concerned that in-game ads would start to have a negative impact on the experience.
And while ads certainly exist, they aren't quite as prominent as one may have expected; maybe it's because, according to EA, such ads just don't pay off. In speaking to Edge , EA's general manager of their free-to-play program, Ben Cousins, said in-game advertising just hasn't generated the huge amount of income the publisher anticipated. Indeed, microtransactions is more of a revenue generator. Said Cousins:
"We actually aren’t getting much from ad revenue at all. The in-game advertising business hasn’t grown as fast as people expected it to."
Publishers of smaller apps for different platforms, such as Zynga (a company that produces Facebook games), have reaped big benefits from microtransactions. If you think about how fast the virtual goods business has grown in the last year or so, it’s been much quicker and become a much more reliable source of revenue," added Cousins.
Next year, EA will release Battlefield: Play4Free , which follows up on the free-to-play Battlefield Heroes . The latter featured both in-game ads and microtransactions and while one took off, the other didn't really do much for EA. Cousins isn't saying in-game ads are going the way of the dodo (money is money) but perhaps the wave of the future is microtransactions, rather than a few billboards here and there.