August 1st, 2008
I originally made the case to people that there was no way id was putting advertising billboards in the actual levels that will ship with Quake Live.
"It's an economics of eyeballs," I said. Advertising rates are set based on how many eyes will see the ad in question. This is why Superbowl ads cost millions and Burma-Shave is out of business. So what part of the game do you spend the most time staring at? Maybe the architecture if it's a sweem custom map and it's the first time you've loaded it but beyond that you're playing the game. It's the last thing you're focusing on. The menus, however, offer advertisers more freedom and a more attentive set of viewers, and loading delays offer a completely captive audience. This is the path EA took with Battlefield Heroes and if there's anything they know how to do, it's make money.
I had really been watching Quake Live closely (although I didn't get invited to the beta ... I wonder why?) waiting for information on custom map support, quietly planning a new way to further delay the myriad of existing projects I'm busy not finishing by creating special-edition-style revisits of all my old maps. Coriolis Storm with more pitched gameplay and a more interesting vertical layout, LDBST not so silly looking, etc etc, and everything with q3map2-enabled static mesh awesomeness.
Then Carmack revealed in his Quakecon keynote that yes, the ads are in fact going to be in the levels, he thinks they look great because of Quake Arena's e-sports-tournament chic, and that they look so great that even if you pay for the gold-pressed latinum whatever edition the ads won't go away because it would make the game and the menus look "empty."
Really? Have game menus looked empty and boring up until now? Should we be thanking IGN's marketing squad for rescuing us from the dark age of actual graphic design? Does this website look vacuous and hollow without reserving strobing, doublewide panels for esurance.com to pester the hell out of you?
Aside from my crotchety-old-man, Calvin-and-Hobbes'-dad style distaste for the degree to which my generation is bombarded from all sides with advertising already, I don't think at this point I'll be doing anything for Quake Live at all anymore. The common thread with all my maps is that they do not play at all to that e-sports-tournament chic, instead cultivating a more fantastic atmosphere that's still appropriate to deathmatch in its own player-as-roleplayer way. They don't look like stadiums that have audiences, they look like eerie places - in short, they wish they were single player maps - and I cannot visualize advertisements in them at all. (Lun3DM2 maybe, but I also never liked that theme.)
However, I guess I did sorta just release the sources to all those maps. Meaning, if anyone really wanted to see the haunted, dusty corridors of Coriolis Storm spruced up with ads for Michael Bay movies and the Scion xB, there's really nothing I could do to stop them except wish really really hard into their inbox. Le sigh.