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Advertisements in $60 games: Is this just the beginning?

July 4, 2019

We are all familiar with commercials and advertisements. Growing up, I watched thousands of commercials on cable television. As soon as I had access to the Internet, I saw pop-up ads. Today, I watch YouTube ads daily. Ads are a part of our daily lives, but when I play a video game for which I paid $60, I do not expect to see an advertisement. That very thing happened to many gamers who recently fired up NBA 2K19 after a random game update: 2K added unskippable commercials for a new show on FX. Yeah, I’m not kidding. 

We have seen advertisements and product placement in games for years, particularly in sports games. I remember thinking it was cool that there was a “real” KFC in Crazy Taxi when I played the GameCube port, not realizing it was an advertisement. But adding actual commercials, unskippable ones at that, is crossing the line. Many gamers are concerned that this is only the beginning of invasive advertisements in full-price video games.

Personally, I think sneaking something like this in NBA 2K19 is very strategic. The executives at 2K probably thought no one would care because 2K20 is right around the corner. You can get 2K19 for a decent price now, so maybe they thought no one would be upset about having to watch commercials in the game. YouTuber CleanPrinceGaming (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXj7EFAEM6PtQLjjh0wfsSA) brings up a good point: 2K did this so it will seem “normal” once the next game comes out in the fall.

The only way to show 2K and other publishers that we don’t like this is to stop buying their games.

Vote with your wallet, as they say. As someone who hasn’t purchased a sports game in years, I could easily brush this off as something that will be exclusively in sports games, but I don’t know that that will be the case.

On top of that, I don’t want fans of sports games to deal with this. We have already dealt with loot boxes and microtransactions in games, and this is just another way for game publishers to make money off of us. This is a slippery slope, and I just want us all to keep playing and enjoying games without having to get a part-time job just to afford them. 

How do you feel about unskippable ads in paid video games? Let’s talk on Twitter: @cgottowhite.
  • Cassie Gotto-White is a gamer, communications professional and coffee lover. She discovered her passion for video games at age six when she was given an NES Top Loader. Her current main console is a PlayStation 4, but she also owns a Nintendo Switch and Xbox One. She considers herself to be a single-player games advocate, and some of her favorite games are The Last of Us, the Uncharted series, the Yakuza series and Night in the Woods. Follow her at cgottowhite on Instagram and Twitter, and add her on PSN: unleash-the-bats.

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