EA's general manager of free-to-play gaming has said that in-game advertising is in decline and microtransactions are proving to be much more lucrative. Ben Cousins was talking of Battlefield4Free when he suggested the days of advertising billboards in games may be over.
Speaking to Edge about Battlefield: Heroes, EA's Ben Cousins said that "We hedged our bets. We thought we'd do in-game advertising and virtual goods sales, and one of those took off really fast and the other hasn't really taken off at all,” adding that "We actually aren't getting much from ad revenue at all. The in-game advertising business hasn't grown as fast as people expected it to."
Cousins said that the in-game advertising model isn't dead, but that the tactic of throwing real ads onto billboards and posters in game worlds may be dead, and that in depth product tie ins were more likely in future. “I think it's more about specific deals where you can tie the content in. We did a deal with Dr Pepper for Battlefield Heroes, where if you buy a bottle and scan in the code you get an exclusive outfit. That kind of deep integration will work, I think, but I'm not convinced that we'll have billboards in games and things like that. Maybe those days are over.”