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Riccitiello:  Battlefield 3 ,  Call of Duty  To Spend Hundreds Of Millions On Ad Battle

Riccitiello: Battlefield 3, Call of Duty To Spend Hundreds Of Millions On Ad Battle

April 6, 2011 | By Kyle Orland

EA CEO John Riccitiello says the marketing spends for both EA's Battlefield 3 and Activision's next Call of Duty release could easily surpass $100 million each.

Speaking at an Ad Age Conference keynote presentation, Riccitiello said we can expect to see "a couple hundred million dollars [worth of] marketing against these two products," emphasizing that Battlefield 3 is "designed to take [Call of Duty] down."

The remarks were part of a wide-ranging presentation where Riccitiello talked up the game industry in general, and EA in particular, as a new up-and-coming mass audience for advertisers.

Noting that the game industry has risen to include 1.5 billion players worldwide over the past few years, Riccitiello predicted that audience could grow to encompass 3 billion players in three or four years -- eclipsing worldwide TV ownership -- thanks largely to the growing ubiquity of game-playing smartphones.

What's more, Riccitiello stressed that these game players are a more captive audience than those using other media. "People don't really do anything else when they're playing games, they're focused on it," he said. "When people watch TV or use the internet, they're usually doing something else."

EA has the ability to serve dynamic content to 233 million unique users today, Riccitiello said, up from 40 million users in 1995 who mainly received static content in the form of unconnected retail games. The company's servers run over 15 million hours of online gameplay to 5 million of those unique users every day, he said.

He noted that Barack Obama purchased display ads in many EA games to reach out to youth voters at a point in his campaign when he was in a distant second or third place. "I guess it worked," he quipped.

But getting ads to players doesn't have to mean inserting intrusive billboards or products into the game experience, Riccitiello said. He estimated that about half of online play time was spent in pre- or post-match lobbies or setup, where "today's consumer is very much expecting advertising ... we didn't have that understanding a few years ago."

He encouraged advertisers to get into the game market now, while the market is still settling, to avoid a "bidding war" that could happen over prime game-based ad space in three to five years.

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