Madden NFL 10's in-game advertising arched some eyebrows when it released, but the grousing quickly blew over. The complaints have returned, as some users are reporting even more frequent pop-up ads, sometimes at the rate of one-per-snap.
It seems that under the latest patch, which I applied on my Xbox 360 last night, a rectangular ad now appears pre-snap above the right third of the score graphic. I've seen ads for Gillette, Microsoft's Bing search engine, and Coke Zero on the Xbox 360 version. Ripten's Chad Lakkis, who first reported on this yesterday, says he was playing on the PS3 and was inundated with pitches for Madden NFL Arcade.
The ads now seem to appear before every non-special teams snap, provided there was no other cutscene graphic preceding the play, such as ones providing biographical information or recapping your drive length and time. Instant replays and backtracks seem also to keep the ads away. But in singleplayer games when you're on defense, such graphics are less common, and you can literally see three or more ads in a row, all flacking you the same product.
Their placement do not obscure critical visual information, and they disappear when the ball is snapped, but to say they are an annoying distraction is putting it mildly. Then again, the relative lack of an uproar about this must be noted. Maybe the Madden community doesn't mind it after all.
Before testing this out last night, I hadn't played Madden in about a month. But the advertising I saw definitely came up more frequently than I remember. Secondly, I started looking for this in a version of the game that had not been updated with Dec. 10's patch. After the patch was applied, the ads came out in force. Ripten says it notices lesser ad frequency now on the PS3, but this morning it was status quo on the Xbox 360 for me.
Earlier this year, in bringing up in-game ads with EA Sports, I was politely told that the ads were consistent with the team's presentational philosophy, that you wouldn't be seeing anything in a Madden game that you wouldn't also see in a standard NFL broadcast. Fair enough. But in no way do we see pop-up advertising this conspicuous over this many plays on CBS, Fox, ESPN or NBC. I might be late to the party on noticing, but I'm pretty sure about that last point.