Google confirmed this weekend that it had acquired in-game advertising specialist, Adscape for $23-million (£11.8m). This puts it in direct competition with Microsoft, following MS’s $400-million (£205m) purchase of Massive in 2006.
“Whoo-dee-do!” we hear you cry, “More in-game ads!” but wait, there’s more.
While Microsoft’s Massive has deals in place with such publishing heavyweights as THQ, UbiSoft and Take-Two, Adscape has deals in place with… no one.
But wait again, as the US patent office holds some pretty interesting information on the intellectual property owned by Adscape – and now, Google. Take US Patent numbered, 232324 (series 2) filed on September 3, 2002 for example. Called rather tediously, ‘Autoconfiguration method for interactive on-line gaming systems’.
An interactive gaming system comprising a gaming console and a gaming service provider is disclosed. The gaming console contains a storage medium, on which data relating to a configuration of the gaming console are stored. The gaming console further contains a processor in communication with the storage medium for retrieving data therefrom and executing the data, the data relating to the configuration of the gaming console. A gaming service provider provides instruction data to the gaming console, and a connecting network enables a connection between the gaming console and the gaming service provider. Further, a gaming client is stored on the gaming console. The gaming client establishes a connection between the gaming console and a gaming service provider and controls events taking place on the gaming console. The configuration of the gaming console is established by the gaming client according to messages sent to and received from the gaming service provider and to messages stored within a personal profile.
The object, in short, of the whole thing is:
It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a system and method for interactive on-line gaming that is automatically adjustable to changes in gaming environments and user preferences.
OK, so one the surface, this is a simply a way to ensure that adverts are targeted at specific areas within gameplay, and (by using personal profiles ('cookies', really)) - that once an end-user has seen an ad’ a certain number of times, it does not reappear.
However, with Google’s backing – and an incentive to go up against what appears to be its arch-rival – this could be extended to a full-blown, tailored, gaming network such as, well, Xbox Live.
The main issues, of course, are that currently Adscape has no clients signed up; and games publishers may well disinclined to piss off one of the major platform holders. On the other hand, if Google starts to take this patent seriously, it could provide those same publishers with a large, knobbly stick to use in negotiations with the platform holders.
We await the outcome of yet another Google vs Microsoft scrap with interest.