July 9, 2009
Games that run in your web browser are all the rage, and understandably so. Why not build your game for the largest audience in the world, using freely available technology, and pay zero licensing fees? One such game is Evony, formerly known as Civony – a browser-based clone of the game Civilization with a buy-in mechanism.
There are also plentiful opportunities to 'pay money' now. In the end, Civony is still a business. And to be honest, it's probably better to give the option for some elite folks to finance the game for the masses than to make everyone pay a subscription or watch in-game ads. In addition to the old $0.30 per line world chat, you can spend money to speed up resource gathering, boost stats, and buy in-game artifacts. I'm sure there are other ways to pay money that I haven't discovered yet. But whenever you see a green plus-sign (+), you know the option exists to pay money for a perk.
The game is ostensibly free, but supported by a tiny fraction of players making cash payments for optional items (sometimes referred to as "freemium"). Thus, the player base needs to be quite large for the business of running the game to be sustainible, and the game's creators regularly purchase internet ad space to promote their game. The most interesting thing about Evony isn't the game, per se, but the game's advertising. Here's one of the early ads.
Totally reasonable advertisement. Gets the idea across that this is some sort of game set in medieval times, and emphasizes the free angle.
Apparently that ad didn't perform up to expectations at Evony world HQ, because the ads got progressively ... well, take a look for yourself. These are presented in chronological order of appearance on the internet.
(if this lady looks familiar, there's a reason.)
To be clear, these are real ads that were served on the internet. This is not a parody. Just to prove it, here's a screenshot of the last ad in context at The Elder Scrolls Nexus.
I've talked about advertising responsibly in the past. This is about as far in the opposite direction as I could possibly imagine. It's yet another way, sadly, the brilliant satire Idiocracy turned out to be right on the nose.
The dystopian future of Idiocracy predicted the reduction of advertising to the inevitable lowest common denominator of all, with Starbucks Exotic Coffee for Men, H.R. Block "Adult" Tax Return (home of the gentleman's rebate), and Pollo Loco chicken advertising a Bucket of Wings with "full release".
Evony, thanks for showing us what it means to take advertising on the internet to the absolute rock bottom ... then dig a sub-basement under that, and keep on digging until you reach the white-hot molten core of the Earth. I've always wondered what that would be like. I guess now I know.
Posted by Jeff Atwood
Great post! I've noticed all the ads shown except the last one.
This could make a great case study for online advertising.
Sex sells, but in this case, what were they selling?
Only one banner gave a clue with "Build Your Empire. Rule the World!"
I played evony for a while, but their Flash interface is slow and clunky and their game is *the* most expensive freemium game on the internet.
In the game you can control up to 10 cities and each city has a certain number of buildings you can build (~40 resource and ~40 city buildings) and you choose how much of which building to make. Each building can be upgraded up to level 10. Here's the catch: To upgrade a building from lvl 9 to lvl 10 you need Michelangelos Script (one for each building). They cost 5$ each. An item for increasing ingame income for 7 days, costs 28$. If you dont like where you are and want to change your position on the map, the random Teleport scroll will cost you 3$ (or 9$ if you wanna pick where you wanna land).
And lets not even talk about the fact that you have to pay per line to talk in world chat.
As for the interface, there are way too many modal dialogs. And it has memory leaks so you have to restart the browser after several hours of playing or it will become much slower (and Task Manager will show your browser eating gigabytes of RAM).
OTOH, the tutorial and quests are very nicely done.
Oddly enough, I found your site and this thread through a purposeful Google of the Civony/Evony ad. Specifically, the second to last ad you have pictured. You can't imagine how rare it is to see a woman pictured with...well, how I put this...hanging breasts. There's a better view at http://www.evony.com/evonyyahoo1.html?yahoo1. My goodness...I never though I'd post blog comment with a better view of boobs.
But truly, to see online or anywhere else, a set of advertising breasts anywhere that aren't so perky they could cut glass, or just set up to wetnursedly suckle the nation, well, it's remarkable. No flower-shaped areola, no ceiling-pointed pencil-eraser-like nipple; just a normally large flopped over heavy breast. It's remarkable. !
Truly, you (and Civony/Evony) have no idea how many of us women and girls there are with breasts like this that'd love to see ourselves positively portrayed online. You have no idea. Enough so that I'd Google the image and respond on some message board I know nothing about.
The game may indeed suck. And the advertising may have nothing to do with it. And that must be annoying, and I think the developers and advertisers deserve a kick in the shins for that. But holy cow I can't believe a normal large-sized boob made it into a mainstream ad!!! I am, at this moment, slightly less ashamed of my similarly-shaped, overlarge, floppy breasts.
If they're trying to get hits, I'm sure this works awesome. But are people really buying the game because of that?
What has this come to?
Go to Wowhead.com, and you'll see these square and vertical banner Evony ads. (2nd to last ad)
Her boobs are actually exposed, but nothing shows. They're just 2 blobs.
SERIOUSLY, YOU CAN ACTUALLY SEE THROUGH.
Tsk, tsk. Just because the advertising in your blog (overt and less so) is more highbrow, don't hate!
Mike Judge (THE Mike Judge?) is right - this is desparation marketing and a sure sign their business model is failing (has failed) and they're desparately seeking a way to get people through the door in any way possible.
One one level, it works - I'm definitely noticing their ads more. But clicking on them? If their ads are so lacking in creativity I can't imagine there's a lot of originality or much to engage with in their game. So no.
Wow! I had no idea the ads had degenerated to that point. I signed up for the game back when it was using the first ad. There are NO boobs in the game, it's all 2D tile city and map graphics. Well, some of the players are boobs, but not like the ones they advertise.
If you're talking about Evony's bad marketing, talk about iEvony. They want you to download a program, and put in your chat and email passwords, so they can send advertisements in your name to your friends.
They give everyone a subdomain, like axus-buy.evony.com, and encourage you to spam with it, like I just did. For each person that signs up, you get a coin. Oh, but only one to five coins per day. And it takes 50 coins to buy regular items, and hundreds for the good stuff.
It is a fun game, but the advertising stinks.
I've seen some of their artwork elsewhere, in a context that suggests their ad-guys are big into art/photo theft and copyright infringement. Big surprise.
Actually. had a look at the Queen of Evony thread posted by Jeff above. once you get past the COSPlay weirdness there seems to be a fair amount of females playing the game, with some of them being quite good looking too.
Hell if I'm honest some of those girls are much prettier that you'd normally see playing this kind of game.
I guess their, in my opinion, annoying tactics have little effect on the players already playing and enjoying the game...
I believe you have missed the real point here. What you are witnessing is the first deathnell of a dying industry - internet ads.
No one reads them and click throughs are mainly by accidently (when they aren't pity clicks or click fraud).
Can you blame them for getting desperate to draw eyes to their ads when most people just flat out ignore them? (when they even see them thanks to ad blocking)
I've actually noticed a number of these sorts of ads floating about in the more fringe areas that are not yet part of my ad blocking filter. Views of busty characters which do not accurately represent game play at all. They do, however, get people to click through to find that out. Some stay, most leave.
Sadly, this can only last for a while. Eventually people will realize that even the boob ads are a bait and switch and stop clicking through.
When that day happens, Google will suffer a fatal ecconomic blow that is likely to cause some serious economic ripples (bets on how it compares to the current "difficulties"? Google gets deeper into the economy every day. When it finally fails, it ought to be impressive!)
Hey, I haven't commented in a while. I think I prefered orange to the new nearly unreadable but probably eminently defeatable captcha.
That's just horrible!
[fap, fap, fap]
Wow, that's a civ clone? I was convinced it was a soft-porn RPG from the ads. They are certainly ... not in very good taste. Now I like civ, and I like breasts, but I'm fairly sure attempts to combine the two are only going to end in tears.
And is it just me, or does the one with the sword in particular suggest some unfortunate implications?
"Something else I've noticed over the years: It used to be that women played primarily healers of some type, with a few dps casters."
I can't help but think the healer = female stereotype was brought in from Japanese role playing games. Final Fantasy is particularly bad about this stereotype, at least in the games where the player classes are fixed: Rosa from Final Fantasy IV, Aeris from Final Fantasy VII, Garnet/Dagger from Final Fantasy IX, Yuna from Final Fantasy X...
Of course, the last two are both summoners, which in the later games seems to double as White Mage... Final Fantasy's healing class.
I know my friend Emily has been an exception to the women playing healing classes. She has played MMOs longer than I have, and she's always liked playing DPS classes.
In World of Warcraft, her favorite classes are Rogue and Warlock.
"Mike Judge (THE Mike Judge?) "
Yes, THE Mike Judge. Can't you tell the resemblance to King of the Hill?
P.S. THE Mike Judge also made Office Space, one of the greatest movies of our time. ;)
I actually clicked on that game and tried to play it, it's real problem is not a lack of breasts but that it utterly sucks. It kept telling me to build cottages, build cottages, so I did. Then I ran out of wood and that was it. I couldn't buy any more even though I had tons of gold, I couldn't go cut any in the woods, I was just screwed.
Then it told me I could buy some, with real money. Spend my REAL money, on their imaginary goddamn wood.
Stupid goddamn game, I quit.
Just to let you know, I've come accross another one of those adverts not shown here.
you can find it on this page at the time of posting this message:
Another low stoop to advertising.
Better get going to that site so you can add it to the list.
I have been collecting information about Evony here: http://www.bruceongames.com/2009/07/10/dont-play-evony/
Basically it looks like Chinese gold farmers going first party.
The game is a rip off of other games.
The advertising misrepresents the game.
They are spamming up Google AdSense.
They are spamming up lots of blogs (including mine).
They are charging a lot of money for very little.
And they are frequently losing player's money.
@wickethewok: LOL, I don't think Idiocracy is very highly rated anywhere. It just touches on subject matter that is very relevant to the internet culture of today and is referenced frequently for that reason.
I clicked for the boobs, stayed for the game.
Reminds me of a movie I saw the other day..
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Boobage.
I have been waiting since 1993 to use that line. :)
I think the outraged offense coming from the female gamers is absolutely hilarious. I'm pretty sure that the evony makers are not too concerned about alienating you. We can pretty much see who their target audience is, and its the group that ogles mammaries, not the group that grows them.
i seriously thought you added in that last one as a joke, wow.
captch: "dumps Much" lawl
Who Are The Ad Wizards Who Came Up With THAT One?
What's wrong with tits? Tits are nice. Women should find them thankful for that men are interested in their cleavages instead of a hairy men's back cleavage..
Haha. That last one is just hilarious. What a transition! From the fantasy chick to just a plain ol set of bewbs!
You obviously haven't seen the ads for IMVU, the online virtual world for tween girls and their would-be pedophilic stalkers. I used to work there and I can't even count the number of times a parent called to complain because they thought their 13yr old daughter was playing some innocent online dress-up-and-chat-with-friends game, but then happened to see one of the softcore ads floating around the Web.
This story just got picked up by gawker.com Jeff!
Apparently you tapped a vein.
"Remember, Yahoo Spades and Diner Dash are "online games" too..."
Yes, but they are in a completely different class than the game in question, so using a general, wide brushed "online gaming" shouldn't be used when discussing this particular niche.
It's a bit like saying "women are more into muscle cars than men because more women drive cars". Yet, I can look at pretty much any car magazine and see a near naked women lying on the hood of a camero and easily determine that the statement is clearly false.
Ah, yes, the continuing evolution of the Idiocracy. Good post.
That progression of ads is hilarious. The graph of blatant crass exploitation vs. time must look like a factorial.
Also: now that "Orange" is gone, witness the endless parade of pointless "captcha: _____" lines ending posts.
Sorry to say this but the ad worked on me.
1. At first I thought what a stupid ad.
2. But eventually I saw the ad so many times I went joined up as a free player.
3. Irritating ads can work as they get a reaction.
Dammit Shawn, you win. Best comment on the page.
To the individuals who are shocked (or amused) by the fact that female gamers are offended by this: Really? What's it like to be an idiot?
I mean, I find this progression of ads to be pretty hilarious, but only because they're SO WRONG. An intelligent reaction to them--not so much.
I have seen that boob ad a million times in the past week and only just now did i learn what the ad was selling lol
Hundreds of girls in your area are hot, horny, and waiting to chat with YOU!
Brilliant post, as for the person who commented that when you are struggling you'll resort to anything - well, maybe, but certainly not virtually incoherent,appallingly worded miss-spelled crap.
This reminds me somewhat of my puzzling over the gallery of foreign editions of the book "Freakonomics."
Each edition is slightly similar, translated and tailored to each country and language. But for some reason, the Turkish version just has a bikini chick on the cover.
I now picture Turkey as the embodiment of the Idiocracy.
Like real life when i see desperate woman showing cleavage I think of viruses.
Uhm, why did I get a popup that leads me to this game?
I'm playing this other webgame for a while now which displays these Ebony ads and I noticed these transform into cheap blatent softcore pr0n as well.
It doesn't really stimulate me to play the game though. In fact if that's the kind of tactics they are using to get people to play the game, it makes you wonder what kind of gamers you'll find in there.
Funny stuff though.
Translation of Evony ads: "We are total sleazebags. Hand us your credit card!"
Thanks Jeff for this post. I have been noticing these ads all over and thinking how ridiculous they are.
"Play Discreetly" took the cake. Hadn't seen the last version yet.
I'm pretty impressed that a lot of people are missing the biggest problem here.
These ads are disgusting not just because they are misleading. These ads are disgusting because they objectify women. If you really don't see the problems with objectification and how this is sexist, please take a moment to go educate yourself about it.
As a female gamer I can say bullshit like this is the biggest reason more women don't game. That aside, I'm disappointed that an article like this doesn't even mention the sexism. At first I thought it was because it was so obvious--but based on the comments I guess not.
last time i saw one was with that women whos looking up and her cleavage was showing and i was like "WOAH SHIT THOSE ARE SAGGY 0.o" because they looked huge.
"These ads are disgusting not just because they are misleading. These ads are disgusting because they objectify women." YES! How dare they do that thing with the objectifying I demand to know the hopes and dreams a pair of breasts have, you can't just enjoy looking.
"As a female gamer I can say bullshit like this is the biggest reason more women don't game."
I agree! Just like this same bullshit that is on TV keeps women from watching!
I imagine males must make up about 90%+ of the North American market for browser based games - Andrew
Andrew, I know exactly what you mean. I imagine that unicorns are real.
Okay I have been imagining for a while now and there are still no unicorns. This game sucks. Your game sucks, Andrew. We are no longer XBox Live friends. I want you to send me back that girl avatar I made you that got you all those guy gamer friends online.
And the friendship bracelet I made you. Don't think I have forgotten about it.
They need more free game ,Games that show fight foe one thing
Jeff, Did you make that post intending to generating a sudden surge in reader comments.. I hope you didn't.. but doesn't that prove it, sadly sex or adulterated content -just- sells. and sadly makes this one the recent hottest post of yours.
It is the importance such content is given that encourages them more.. its like buying birds in cages to save birds from being caught and being sold.
Imagine with all that so-called progressiveness in their Ads, Evony could finally interest jeff to write a post on it and generate free-clickthroughs for them.
Up until the next to last ad, I might potentially have clicked the ads and played the game. Though it got progressively more "sexy" (And I use the word loosely), it still seemed like a medieval game.
The last one however, I can't fathom. It looks like a porn ad more than anything. In my opinion, it does them more harm than good by far. People who would be likely to actually play the game and pay for what isn't free would be turned off by the ad which looks like nothing like a browser game and the horny 40-years old virgins would just stand asking "Where the hell are the *titties*?!!"
Evony is nowhere near the bottom.
This Evony advertising thing is pissing me off, too. Every time I visit sites like wowwiki (which I do quite often), my mom is like "OMG pr0n sites!" ... *sigh*
Absolutely hilarious. Won't be seeing these ads on our forums any time soon :p
Jeff Atwood. Master of incorporating references to Idiocracy into his blog posts.
Are they advertising game or porn? I don't know!
Are they advertising game or porn? I don't know!
I would loooooooove to play those tits, errr, i mean games, or game, rather...
ooops, I got distracted, what were they selling again? I ain't buying.
Jeff, I find your blog absolutely hilarious.
Keep going please, mate!!!
There's even more of them now. It really annoys me.... its just so stupid.
Now I have your attention, please play my game."
It's a standard approach to advertising, it's just that this is the first time it's been quite so blatant (outside of mainland Europe).
Do you think this could be the next civony ad? http://themegalolz.blogspot.com/2009/03/gay-test.html
Google should do something about this. There are sites which I just plain don't visit any more with kids in the room because of the inappropriate ads.
Nothing wrong with using sex to sell to either gender (I'm female).
The ads amuse me, because I think they have realised that their game sucks ass, and so they're resorting to progressively cheesier (or sexier, depending on how you feel) ads to get people to play it.
Aeria games uses the same tactic to promote Shaiya, but it's actually a decent game. Pox Noria had some half-dressed elf bimbo on one of their ads a year or two ago, but they dropped that tactic.
Heh, when I saw the first of those ads, I wondered if I should start collecting them for eventual mockery. Of course, I never got around to it; thanks for saving me the trouble, Jeff! :-)
scared of boobies! wah! evony bad!
Must play ... web .. game ...
I have seen these ads and its obvious to me that they went from advertising to trying to be pretty much on topic but "sexy", to alittle too much on the "sexy" end, to desperate, to not telling you anything but CLICK HERE TO PLAY OUR GAME...BOOBS...., to trying to actually trick people into thinking its a porn game. i looked at the game (pictures and summaries) and thought it looked pretty cool. but since the ads were focused on....boobs, i decided not to play, they obviously care more on getting people to play then actually caring for the game. SO BOTTOM LINE, EVONY LOOKS LIKE A A GROUP OF 12 YEAR OLDS THREW A CONTEST TO SEE WHO COULD MAKE THE BEST ADVERTISEMENTS FOR THERE FRIENDS GAME.......IF THEY ARE THAT DESPERATE, THEY SHOULD JUST MAKE THE GAME AN ACTUAL ADULT GAME WITH ACTUAL BOOBS....not that i would play it then either.....well id try it......a few times....
In the Netherlands we have this sarcastic saying of what makes a movie top notch:
"Guns, boobs and choppers"
It is not
I would surely love to see guns and choppers added, then all I can do is quote @ebbechi
"Must play ... web .. game ..."
Amazing, I remember seeing the earlier ads and thinking that were pretty uninspiring and could do with some imagination. True to form, the marketing people avoided having any actual ideas and just added more tits - brilliant!
I saw a signup screen for this game on my six year old son's computer complete with buxom medieval blonde. Navigating back with his browser, it appears he clicked on a banner ad on a Disney Games site! I'm no prude but, he's no dummy. A few minutes longer and he would have signed up and started playing. Seems I can't safely leave him playing Disney games anymore.
I actually tried out the game. I was just looking around for MMORPGs and came across this one. It wouldn't have been so bad if it weren't for the fact they need money to speed up everything, fat chance someone's going to hand it over to them.
The game system isn't quite as bad and provides a clean polished interface. I mean, its nothing like the ads.
FYI the children's software maker PopCap is making fun of this terrible ad campaign in their new banner ads. I saw it on penny-arcade.com today.
Snapped the pic at http://tinyurl.com/korghd
Wow, I didn't know woman/ladies in the medieval age wear modern-day bras.
The crazy part, for me, is that I've only seen the second-to-last ad, and until I happened to see the "build your empire, rule the world" part, I was convinced that Evony is a Christian musical artist ("Play now, my Lord. Play discreetly in your browser for free"). Which normally all the boobs in the world would not convince me to click on, either.
I own a browser based game and saw those ads and laughed and actually considered advertising just like it since it obviously works.
I am sad to report they have actually got worse. I went to SendSpace this morning and was bombarded with pictures of a woman clad only in panties, lying face down to conceal her breasts, accompanied by the caption 'Come Play My Lord'. I wondered what all the soft-core porn was in aid of until I noticed the tell-tale Evony font.
To prove that I'm not making this up: here is the offending image. Not safe for work! The only place I've seen it in context so far is SendSpace, but it was all over the place there.
I'm afraid I have to report they have actually got worse. I went to SendSpace this morning and was bombarded with pictures of a woman clad only in panties, lying face down to conceal her breasts, accompanied by the caption 'Come Play My Lord'. I wondered what all the soft-core porn was in aid of, until I noticed the tell-tale Evony font.
To prove that I'm not making this up: http://img219.imageshack.us/img219/4065/248dd150e15ffaa25d882a6.jpg
Not safe for work! The only place I've seen it thus far is SendSpace, but it was all over the place there today.
I'm afraid I have to report they have gotten worse. I went to SendSpace this morning and was bombarded with pictures of a woman clad only in panties, lying face down to conceal her breasts, accompanied by the caption 'Come Play My Lord'. I wondered what all the soft-core porn was in aid of, until I noticed the tell-tale Evony font.
To prove that I'm not making this up: http://img219.imageshack.us/img219/4065/248dd150e15ffaa25d882a6.jpg
SendSpace is the only place I've seen it 'in the wild' so far. Not safe for work!
Apologies for the repeated post, I kept getting an error message.
nice ads, nice game. I tried it after my attention was atracted by a pair of nice breasts.
It,s nice and you can play it for free, So no problem there..