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"AdverGaming the System" by Chris Boyd


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Christopher Boyd, aka paperghost, delivered this presentation at ROOTCON 6, which was held at the Cebu Parklane International Hotel in Cebu City last September 7, 2012.

OVERVIEW: In-game advertising is becoming more visible (and in some cases, more intrusive) in the world of console, PC, and mobile gaming. In many cases, disclosure related to what's happening with your PII is as bad (if not worse) than the poor practices of the adware industry prior to clean ups brought about by the FTC and the NYAG.

Where is your data going? What are you consenting to when installing that "free" app? Which advertising networks are serving you "relevant" targeted advertising while playing the latest FPS?

From the first in-game ad from 1978 to the present day where as many as 40+ EULAs compete for your attention while installing a "free" game, this presentation will look at the history, development and current state of in game advertising and how it affects you.

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"AdverGaming the System" by Chris Boyd

  1. 1. 1 Advergaming the SystemChris Boyd, Senior Threat Researcher GFI Software
  2. 2. 2Gamification of Advertising: Old School
  3. 3. 3You are a walking money train» Survey from the Interactive Advertising Bureau reveals:» 2010: $26 billion ad revenue» 2011: $31 billion ad revenue (mobile $1.6 billion).» You are at the centre of a bidding war» CDNs, Ad Exchanges, Real Time Bidding, Demand Side Platforms» Convergence is turning standalone devices into fully functional media entertainment centres
  4. 4. 4Adverts: Then and Now Then: 1) Switch on Device 2) Play game Now: 1) Switch on device 2) Adverts on device dashboard 3) Notification of adverts to be served 4) Adverts in game 5) Game broken up across multiple media = more adverts
  5. 5. 5Types of Advertising
  6. 6. 6A Brief History of Advergaming» 1978: Adventureland text adventure: self-insert promotion for Treasure Island» 1996: DOOM Mod Chex Quest, distributed on CDs in cereal boxes» Early to mid 2000’s: Numerous in-game advertising companies formed taking advantage of net connectivity in gaming devices
  7. 7. 7Types of Advertising» Static: Older, less flexible form of product placement» Dynamic: Flexible, not tied to product, remotely updated» Companies such as Massive Incorporated, IGA Worldwide, Double Fusion work with game developers on in-game ads, product placement, relevance to game world» Free now, pay later (mobile and PC)» Gamification of adverts themselves
  8. 8. 8Techniques of In-game Advertising
  9. 9. 9Techniques of In-game Advertising» Psychology can be used unlike with a pop-up ad
  10. 10. 10Techniques of In-game Advertising» Advertisers can use game data to place ads in locations most likely to be seen
  11. 11. 11Techniques of In-Game Advertising» Can be made unavoidable
  12. 12. 12Techniques of In-game Advertising
  13. 13. 13Techniques of In-game Advertising
  14. 14. 14Old School, Old News
  15. 15. 15Gamification of Advertising
  16. 16. 16 Gamification of Advertising» Asking customers to advertise more adverts, presented as a “reward”
  17. 17. 17Gamification of Advertising
  18. 18. 18Gamification of Advertising
  19. 19. 19Welcome to 2006: Advert Wars Re-ignite
  20. 20. 20Back to Square One» Gamers / device owners don’t want adverts on their new technology» Gamers object to paying premium memberships while still seeing ads» Advertisers will only pay / be paid depending on set criteria (viewtime, angle, interaction etc)» Unintended security risks arise as a result of trying to block adverts
  21. 21. 21Advert Placement from A to Z» No limit to where the content can be seen:1) Launch of device2) Device dashboard3) Introduction / legal / ToS screens4) Title screen5) Menus / options / DLC store6) Loading screens7) Inside the game world8) Pause / options9) Exiting game10) Stats updaters / “Tweet this” options to spread via Social Media
  22. 22. 22Dashboard Flashpoint
  23. 23. 23Dashboard Flashpoint
  24. 24. 24Dashboard Flashpoint
  25. 25. 25Dashboard Flashpoint
  26. 26. 26Dashboard Flashpoint
  27. 27. 27Star Wars? In my Deus Ex?» Owners of Deus Ex: Human Revolution reported seeing adverts for Star Wars on loading screens» Resorted to HOSTS file modification to block ad content
  28. 28. 28Star Wars? In my Deus Ex?
  29. 29. 29Star Wars? In my Deus Ex?
  30. 30. 30Star Wars? In my Deus Ex?
  31. 31. 31PC style messaging on a console…
  32. 32. 32Mobile Gaming
  33. 33. 33Traditional EULA formats on non traditional devices
  34. 34. 34September 2011: 43 entries 2012: 53 entries
  35. 35. 35Some Light Bedtime Reading» Not all EULAs could be copied (multi stage, different pages)» Some pages return a 404» Not everybody has an opt-out
  36. 36. 36Pages Not Found
  37. 37. 37Conclusion» We need to consider how best to notify on non-PC platforms» Gamers should be informed if adverts are paid for, endorsements, free» Tracking of PII should be clear, upfront and described in simple terms» Adverts should not break immersion» Drawing in MS Paint is a lot of fun
  38. 38. 38Thank You!GFI Softwarewww.gfi.comTwitter:@gfisoftwareGFI Labs Blog: (PH Labs account):@gfilabsph