Take-Two and independent advertising company, Double Fusion, have announced an agreement that will see up to nine upcoming 2K and 2K Sports titles riddled with in-game "advertising opportunities". The official press release notes that Double Fusion will be exclusively providing dynamic advertising technology across all platforms, with the exception of the Xbox and the Xbox 360. While the online implementation of ads is nothing unheard of, it's the actual description of the embedded, offline versions that prove to be a bit scary.
"Select versions of 2K and 2K Sports titles will feature integrated, hard-coded placements that will offer marketers opportunities for deep integration into gameplay and storylines, reaching users of the games whether or not they are connected to the Internet."
In-game advertising is often a tug-of-war between a subtle man in a trenchcoat and an obnoxious exhibitionist with an oily burger in his pocket. It's all a matter of balance, with the product or service demanding the player's attention, but in a way that seems natural and unobtrusive within the game's framework. The best in-game advertising often lends to the believability of the world (billboards in a dense city make complete sense), whereas the worst destroys it completely (billboards in Hyrule, not so much). Let's hope Take-Two doesn't have us taking our band of adventurers into the ancient NIVEA forest as we search for the magical PANASONIC DLP SCREEN.
(Hint: Speak to the merchant elf -- he'll give you a BMW with GPS navigation.)