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The Money Game

Posted on Friday, February 9 @ 21:03:27 PST by Joe_Dodson
The D.I.C.E. summit is well named. Dice are, after all, double agents for business and pleasure; the summit itself is in Las Vegas, where business is pleasure, and top of that, the focus of the event is the business of pleasure.

The setting is the Green Valley Ranch, a place that has as much in common with a ranch as I do. That's because it's a huge, luxurious castle of a hotel, a magnificent outcropping of Las Vegas' rich underlying geology (gold). So it hardly seemed coincidental when I walked into the auditorium and saw the words "In-game advertising will make you $RICH$ - Take the money" projected onto a giant screen. Subtle, right? When in Vegas...

The speaker was Jay Cohen of Ubisoft, and the point of his speech seemed to be selling in-game ad sales to the audience. But where we think of advertising as at best tedious, and at worst evil, Jay and the folks at Ubisoft think about it in some ingenious terms.

He gave an interesting example with Rainbow Six Vegas, where an in-game ad for Axe body spray was coupled with an easter egg. Not only did this cause players to actively seek out the advertizement, but Kotaku reported on this subtle act of product placement, inadvertantly advertizing Axe body spray in their own article. Ha, suckers. We'd never fall for that trick.

On the flip-side of the die was Will Wright's Spore presentation. It was a great talk, full of entertaining ideas such as The Illusion of Competence ("If you can't tell it sucks, it must be good!"), and airdropping Tyranosaurus Rexes as a solution to civil war. Spore is one of the most anticipated games of all time, and no one has anything bad to say about it or its creator.

Yet, it will be published by EA - the most notoriously business savvy publisher in the industry.

It's easy to think of art and business as anathema, just like it's easy to love Will Wright and hate Electronic Arts, or enjoy Rainbow Six Vegas and bitch about Axe body spray. But as the DICE summit and Las Vegas prove, money makes every game more interesting.

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