EA is reportedly considering ad placement in games

EA CEO Andrew Wilson has claimed teams within the company are working on "thoughtful implementations" of ads in games.
ea sports wrc ads in games

Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson has claimed internal teams at currently looking at “thoughtful implements” of advertising in games, as a means to expand marketing opportunities. As noted by The Verge, in a recent earnings call, Wilson was asked directly about dynamic ads in games, and whether EA was considering their implementation.

In response, Wilson reportedly said: “We have teams internally in the company right now looking at ‘how do we do very thoughtful implementations inside of our game experiences.'” For now, it appears the company is keen to implement ads sensitively, with respect for potential backlash in the case of egregious advertising.

As an example of how it can go wrong, late 2023 saw an Ubisoft “technical error” insert advertising posts within Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Despite these ads relating to the wider Assassin’s Creed universe, they resulted in swift and loud complaints from players, with some calling them “disgusting” and others criticising Ubisoft for disrupting the play experience.

Even earlier, in 2020, EA was heavily criticised for putting Amazon ads into UFC 4 gameplay, interrupting replays. The ads were put on full blast in the Reddit r/assholedesign board, with over 100,000 upvotes on the post, and ample discussion about the move.

“It is abundantly clear from your feedback that integrating ads into the Replay and overlay experience is not welcome,” EA said at the time. “We apologise for any disruption to gameplay that players may have experienced.”

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When players purchase a full-priced game, they naturally expect a coherent and advertising-free experience, so as Wilson says, any implementation of in-game ads will need to be done “thoughtfully” and without disruption.

In response to the question in the investor call, Wilson further claimed it’s “still early on that front” with regard to placing advertisements in games. While it’s being investigating at EA, Wilson still sees bigger opportunity in exploring advertising “beyond the bounds” of games.

He believes the most effective way to expand marketing opportunities will be to build EA’s community and “harness” that power, and then later to “think about advertising as a growth driver in those types of experiences.”

For now, EA has not solidified plans to re-implement ads in its upcoming games, although it does appear discussions are ongoing. For now, we’ll have to wait to see what the company has planned, and whether it will learn from the outrage around UFC 4, and other games which have flirted with disruptive advertising.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.