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Coming soon to a video game near you: more ads. Last year, companies paid $200 million to place ads in games – a figure set to grow fivefold by 2008, according to market research firm DFC Intelligence. One reason for the projected jump in spending: new tools that could make ads in games more effective by tailoring them to players’ ages or locations, or even the time of day that a game is played. With the technology, a player in Moscow, say, won’t get a banner hawking a new Nike shoe that isn’t available in Russia. Several firms, including Massive, ­inGamePartners, and Bidamic, unveiled such dynamic in-game advertising in late 2004. DoubleFusion of Jerusalem, Israel, takes the technology even further, presenting ads as video, audio, and 3-D objects woven seamlessly into games’ virtual worlds. Developers using DoubleFusion’s system insert code into their games that dictates where ads will appear. To prevent disruptions, they also specify when and how often the ads can be altered; DoubleFusion then updates the ads via its server. A player driving around a racetrack might pass a billboard advertising Tom Cruise’s latest movie, hear Metallica’s new single, or get extra points for driving over a Pirelli tire. The first DoubleFusion-powered game, London Taxi, from Data Design ­Interactive of Stourbridge, England, will be launched mid-2005.

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