Irish games firm alters future of advertising

3 Nov 2005

An Irish software firm that is playing a fundamental role in enabling the online playability of the forthcoming Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (PS3) platforms has become the first company to create a context-aware in-game advertising engine that could revolutionise the way goods and services are marketed to the increasingly cash-rich and tech-savvy youth market.

Dylan Collins, CEO of Dublin-based DemonWare, said the company’s creation of its Dynamic Network Advertising (DNA) platform was in response to demand from the games industry for tailored and precise advertising capability.

DemonWare, which has received venture capital funding so far of more than €1m and has offices in Dublin, Vancouver and Los Angles, develops the software that powers multiplayer games and enables owners of existing PS2, Xbox and PC games and future PS3 and Xbox 360 owners to play against each other over the internet.

The DemonWare team combines network experts from Trinity College Dublin as well as engineers from the games middleware industry, such as Havok, and programmers from the telecoms sector.

The company has established a towering presence in the market for multiplayer technology and services for the multibillion gaming industry and, according to Collins, it has unparalleled access to gamer details such as their player profile, session durations, gaming statistics and team memberships.

The DNA platform will mine this data and deliver real-time intelligence to advertising providers and publishers. For example, a player in the middle of an online racing car game could observe billboard advertising by the side of the track that matches his or her profile. A second or third competitor in the same game may spot advertising more appropriate to their profile.

“DNA has been designed to enhance third-party advertising networks such as Massive and IGA Partners,” Collins explained. “The key to taking advertising to the next level is game-specific data and our Matchmaking Plus lobby service already provides a sophisticated set of information for publishers about their players.”

Collins continued: “DNA allows publishers to take advantage of that contextual data through their in-house or third-party advertising partners. For the first time in this industry, advertising can be delivered based on the gaming behavior and profile of the players”.

DemonWare works with game publishers and studios to provide off-the-shelf multiplayer tools for some of the world’s biggest games brands. The company’s technology works across the PC, PS2, PS3, PlayStation Portable, Xbox and Xbox 360 platforms.

Earlier this year the company recently received approval from Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox to develop technology for the next generation of their games platforms set to debut this Christmas. “We will be in the top three games that will sell this Christmas and aim to power most of the top 20 games for the emerging PS3 and Xbox 360 games platforms in the years ahead. We are on track to be No 1 in the multiplayer middleware space within 12 months,” Collins told in a recent interview.

He said DNA will deliver extra functionality and additional revenue to publishers as well as bringing them even closer to their customers.

According to the Yankee Group, computer games are now outpacing television as the preferred media activity for 18-34 year-olds, leading to an emerging market for game-based advertising. The potential market for such advertising has been valued at up to US$260m by 2008.

Pictured: DemonWare chief technical officer Seán Blanchfield and CEO Dylan Collins

By John Kennedy