Commentary

Microsoft's Massive Edge

This week, two of the top execs from Massive Incorporated, a pioneering company in the dynamic in-game ad space, left the company to pursue other opportunities, with a former Microsoft executive stepping into the top job. Massive Incorporated was purchased by the Redmond giant last year.

Mitch Davis, the former Massive CEO, and Cory Van Arsdale, the new guy, did a joint conference call to talk about the leadership change, and to make sure everybody knew that everything was copasetic. During the call, I asked Van Arsdale if the new Microsoft leadership meant Massive would be focusing exclusively on Xbox and the Xbox Live online platform for its dynamic ads. He responded predictably that no, Massive would continue to serve other clients.

Of course, it would be foolish for Massive to limit its market to Xbox titles only. But Van Arsdale also made clear that integrating Massive's dynamic in-game ads into Xbox's Live system is the company's first big challenge. That means developers for the system will have the first crack at the cutting edge of in-game advertising--ahead of Sony developers, who have to deal, instead, with the PS3's disastrous online offering. This is especially important for the casual game market, where continual revenue through advertising is shaping up to be a major driver of profits for developers.

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Microsoft's acquisition of Massive is going to continue to pay off, and having leadership from Redmond at the head of the company reaffirms that in-game ads are set to be a powerful profit driver for Xbox Live.

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