Elite: Dangerous may incorporate some form of dynamic in-game advertising, according to its end user license agreement.
The Elite: Dangerous EULA makes specific provision for dynamic in-game advertising and data harvesting – think billboards along space highways, which display ever-changing product placements and collect personal data.
Here’s the relevant section in full:
“The Game may incorporate technology (which may be provided by Frontier or third party service providers engaged by Frontier (each a “Dynamic Advertising Provider”)) which enables advertising to be uploaded into the Game on your PC, and changed while the Game is being played on-line,” the EULA says.
“In order that the Dynamic Advertising Provider is able to direct advertising appropriate to your Game and geographic region, as well as to the correct location within the computer game, certain non-personally identifiable data and information may be retrieved and retained by the Dynamic Advertising Provider including your I.P. address, geographic location, in-game position, and information concerning the appearance of advertising visible during your gameplay (for example, the length of time an item of advertising was visible, the dimensions of the advertisements).
“In addition, the Dynamic Advertising Provider may assign a unique identification number which is stored on your PC and which is used to monitor and calculate the number of views of dynamic advertising during gameplay. None of the information collected for this purpose including the identification number can be used to identify you.”
Although it’s definitely not set in stone and confirmed, this makes it sound like frontier Developments is at least planning for the possibility of including this feature when the game comes to PC later this year (if you’re willing to pay up now, you can buy into the beta).
In-game advertising isn’t a new thing. In addition to ads that appear as part of real-world environment recreations, many racers, sports games, shooters and MMOs – both free-to-play and premium – have used static or dynamic in-game advertising.
It’s not something that has ever really taken off, though – possibly because those who dislike the practice are so vocally opposed.
“Paying 60$ for a game only to see advertisement shoved in your face while they profile you on so-called ‘anonymous statistics’. Great,” Redditor Laloeka said.
The privacy question is difficult to answer, but some gamers have argued that in-game advertising is a fair compromise in paying for ongoing multiplayer server costs when a game is subscription free. Your mileage may vary on that one, and it’s complicated by the fact that Elite: Dangerous was crowdfunded for over £1.58 million and has raised a further £3.75 million through publisher funding, and that some players forked out £200 – or more – for it.
In addition to the commercial aspects, some gamers are put off by the prospect of advertising clashing with a game’s setting and lore.
“It’s pretty fucking stupid. I don’t want to see Kraft Dinner ads while playing a space shooter,” PaperClipCharlie said.
That said, there are plenty of gamers who don’t care at all about in-game ads, just tuning them out and getting on with things. I’d really like to hear what you think about this – good or ill.