The upcoming video game "Need for Speed Carbon" will have more than just gleaming sports cars and streets to race on: Drivers also will be speeding past real-time advertisements for upcoming films, automobiles and other products.
Like many other games, previous versions of "Need for Speed" had static ads and product placements that cannot be changed once the game was packaged and sold on store shelves.
But with "Need for Speed Carbon," available in late October, players with PCs connected to the Internet or using Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox Live service will see ads that change over time.
In two deals announced Thursday, Electronic Arts Inc. said it will start bringing dynamic ads to its video games for the Xbox 360 and PC platforms this fall.
Redwood City, Calif.-based EA, the world's largest video game publisher, said it was partnering with Microsoft's Massive Inc. to deliver the ads to up to four games, including "Need for Speed Carbon." Separately, EA inked a deal with IGA Worldwide Inc. in New York to deliver ads in the upcoming sci-fi shooter "Battlefield 2142."
Financial terms were not disclosed.
For gamers, it means once-static billboards or posters in the game worlds might instead promote an upcoming film one day and a brand of soft drink the next.
The moves come as video games are increasingly seen as an important way for advertisers and marketers to reach the elusive 18- to 34-year-old demographic, a group in which many have switched off television in favor of games, Massive Chief Executive Mitch Davis said.
Chip Lange, EA's vice president of online commerce, said it was important that the ads don't disrupt a player's experience.
"In a racing game, advertising is not only nice to have, but it's an essential component to create the fiction of being there," he said. "This agreement with Massive allows us to vary what relevant ads are served to the game player."
The ads can even be tailored to target specific regions, such as the United States or Europe, company officials said.
Jeff Brown, an EA spokesman, said the company would use the system in additional games besides "Need for Speed," but he didn't say which ones. "Need for Speed" is one of EA's top franchises, along with the Madden football games.