Microsoft said on Wednesday it will pipe advertisements into a slate
of popular sports video games from Electronic Arts Inc. , including
its best-selling "Madden" football franchise.
The deal, which also covers EA's "NASCAR," "Tiger Woods" golf, "NHL"
hockey and upcoming "Skate" skateboarding games, is a significant win
for Microsoft as it tries to build an early lead over rivals such as
Google in putting ads into video games.
"The real issue here is that we're making a network play. If I just
had 'Madden,' while great, it would be of limited value to
advertisers," said Cory Van Arsdale, chief executive of Massive, a
game ad company that Microsoft bought last year for $200 million.
The deal comes as Massive faces increased competition from Google,
which bought game ad service Adscape for a reported $23 million in
March, and from privately held companies such as Double Fusion.
Massive acts as a broker between companies that want to get their ads
in front of gamers, and game publishers eager to tap new sources of
revenue to offset higher development costs for flashy new titles that
can cost $20 million or more to make.
Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
The deal is also the latest indication of increasingly cozy ties
between Microsoft, the world's biggest software company and EA, the
No. 1 independent video game publisher.
Last week, Microsoft said its gaming chief, Peter Moore, will leave
to become head of EA Sports. Moore's replacement at Microsoft will be
Dan Mattrick, a former EA executive who has been a high-level adviser