Massive and Vexcel: What Do They Have in Common?

I got a call yesterday from a reporter asking me about the Massive and Vexcel acquisitions by Microsoft. I said I could talk about the implications of Vexcel but said that I didn't follow gaming. I said I could only say the following about the Massive acquisition:

  • In-game advertising/product placement is an emerging and important new arena and trend
  • And it's a way to extend the ad network to reach young males who are increasingly difficult to reach

Regarding Vexcel, I told her a bunch of the things I put in this post.

But as I spoke to her I started to think that there's more in common between the two acquisitions than simply being announced on the same day. I'm not a gamer, but I know enough about gaming to know that these are virtual worlds that are presenting more and more realistic 3-D imagery. Indeed, Planet 9 designs 3-D imagery for games, the US military and mapping applications.

What Microsoft essentially aims to do with its Virtual Earth/Windows Live Local applications is create a rich "digital world" online. One logical extension of that vision is the creation of a kind of Sims-like virtual real world. Something like that would bring this "Vexcel world" and gaming very close together. Imagine the "social networking" version of this Vexcel 3-D enabled virtual world; it might feature "avatars" in a 3-D environment and could well become like a game. And then you sell ads into that "gaming" environment — signage, contextual ads, etc. — via adCenter (see Massive).

I realize all this goes way beyond dynamic "mapping." But it becomes very intriguing to contemplate all the possibilities.


Here's more on Massive from the WSJ (sub. req'd) — it's interesting that they're going to use adCenter to place ads in games. It represents another kind of demographic targeting.

Here's a Business2.0 piece on Google Earth's coming 3-D world.


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