Engage stepping on the toes of Valve with in-game ad shots

By Justin Mann on January 13, 2006, 6:39 PM
Piracy and copyright infringement is a really hot button issue these days. So is plagiarism. It's interest, then, to see that a company called Engage may had tread on holy land when they apparently used CounterStrike as a promotion for it's in-game advertisement service. Screenshots of what are CounteStrike, coupled with textures in games that are advertisements for real-world companies, can be found on Engage's website. According to Valve, however, that's a very big no-no.

”At no time did Valve grant permission nor discuss these advertisements with Engage. As such, this is now a legal matter. Advertising or any other commercial use of our games requires our written permission.”
The idea of in-game advertising may be no big concern to some, or treachery to others, but it is a viable method for online gaming to find other revenue, especially if the online half of the game is free. However, it of course must be done properly – The exact extent of what, if anything, Engage did wrong here isn't completely clear, but it will be very interesting to follow as it unfolds.




User Comments: 21

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nathanskywalker said:
Jst skim this to get the basic idea....[url]http://www.gamespot.com/news/2004/09/20/news_61
7712.html[/url]Okay, so that^ may have been a big deal, but a few advertisements? doesn't seem like they should comlain that much....especially if "the game is free" but i guess we'll just see how that turns out...
maxtor said:
Does Valve only care if a large company advertises in Counter Strike? I advertise webhosting and server hosting in Counter Stike Source on all of my servers. Is that a Violation, is that against Valves terms? I have 12 of my own CSS servers and everyone has about 5+ advertisements in every map... Most of my advertising is done ingame, when the game actually opens, the screen that pops up is a small introduction to the server and then advertisements for webhosting and game servers...I doubt Valve would bother with it, but I just want to make sure so I don't get in any legel issues. Anyone know anything?:)
Cy6erpuke said:
I do not find the article at gamecloud clear. Does this refer to once off adds of subway restaurants only when joining the server? In-game can mean a lot of things. I would be very disgusted if a gaming session is interupted by ads. Well, with steam and counter-strike updates rolling out every few weeks, how hard could it be for Valve to put a stop to this? Read the original press release here: [url]http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/060110/20060110005446.html?.v=1
/url]
PanicX said:
I'm sure Valve reserves the right to take any action necessary against any entity that infringes on their licensing agreements. As to whether or not you're violating them, well you may want to review the EULA to find out. Of course you could always contact Valve themselves.
xerowingsx5k said:
I don't think it will affect server hosting services, especially servers for Valve games.
MonkeyMan said:
I don't think this will become a very serious legal dispute, because Engage didn't exactly profit from this. Valve has very little to go on, so I think they'll settle this dispute before it even reaches the legal system.
gamingmage said:
Oooooo. Naughty naughty. I personally love Steam as I play CS and other games. Goodnight to all and to all a goodnight.
vigilante said:
I think the only reason would be so people don't think the original company (valve), "endorses" the said ads. What if some mother walks in her sons room and happens to see an "ad" for porn on some random CS server? Well she'll call the maker of the game, thinking it's there fault.People in this world don't have a firm grasp of whos fault anything is. In their mind, it's the fault of whoever has contact information that they can reach. Whoever's name is on the box.Just like people blaim Microsoft for EVERYTHING that can possibly happen on their PC, even though it is the fault of a bad RAM module, or a corrupt program, or a virus, which maybe boils down to being their OWN dang fault. But that's the way it is.I wouldn't want somebody slapping advertisements on my software, no way no how.
exscind said:
I don't think server hosting will be affected, no. What I got out of the article essentially said Engage got in trouble because it was using Counter-strike's fame to promote Engage's own agenda, which is quite different than whoever asked about the legality if applied to serving hosting. People might view this as further promoting Counter-strike's reputation, but I disagree. Engage is clearly using the familiarity of people knowing Counter-strike as a marketing agent to promote its in-game advertisements. That's kind of like putting branded items such as Coco-cola or McDonald's in movies so the viewers have a sense of connection to the main product advertised (in Engage's case, Subway sandwiches). Valve is entitled to challenge what Engage did seeing that Engage did so without Valve's consent.
cyrax said:
So basically the engage engine is using material derived from hl2 to promote their own product. That is so wrong. if your engine is good or even better than valve's then show it off, don't steal material to make it seem like its going to promise amazine things. When the game comes out, no one will buy it simply because it didn't accomplish it on its own merit.
otmakus said:
From what I get from the article, it seems Engage is altering Counter Strike's texture so that there are graffiti on the wall showing advertising. While this won't disturb the gaming experience too much, this is surely a breach of the copyright. Valve has all the right to allow or forbid any tinkering of its software, especially for any comercial reasons.
asphix said:
[b]Originally posted by otmakus:[/b][quote]From what I get from the article, it seems Engage is altering Counter Strike's texture so that there are graffiti on the wall showing advertising. While this won't disturb the gaming experience too much, this is surely a breach of the copyright. Valve has all the right to allow or forbid any tinkering of its software, especially for any comercial reasons.[/quote]Exactly! I dont get the impression that this is an admin message (a.k.a text popping up on your screen for those who dont play) across your screen, nor use of the "server welcome" screen. I get the feeling these are modified textures on the walls containing "posters" that are advertisements.That would constitude modification of intelectual property. The online version is "free" but the intelectual property belongs to valve. Its in the EULA.. I wont go find it.. you can if you want to. WHen you purchase the game you are purchasing the right to play the game, not modify it. Not until they make an engine open source do you get that privilage. That doesnt only include the code, but textures and the like as well.Of course this is a thin line, because the modding community does just that. However, thats to promote the game and the fun that is derrived from the game. It isnt from a 3rd party company trying to make profit out of it.. so thats where the essential difference lies.Also, the online part isnt exactly "free". You purchase it with the single player part. The reason they dont charge monthly fees for it is because they dont provide servers. You must provide your own servers.
maxtor said:
Well thats what I am saying, have advertisements in my welcome message, and as well as on the walls. They look like spays on the walls. But I doubt Valve will care, if they have some sort of problem with it I will remove it, but it is the way I get most of my advertising done. Actually I advertised an ebay action in CS once, worked really well, I was selling a copy of CSS on ebay, so I advertised it in CS. Sold it really quickly.
Need_a_Dell said:
The idea of playing an online game such as CounterStrike and then being bombarded by advertisments is absurd. Everyday we are subject to a relentless stream of "buy this" and "buy that". Going online ot play games is one of the last refuges in the world to get away from the corporate monsters. I think I want a coke now...
vigilante said:
Don't forget, though, people aren't "hacking" the software to do this. Valve built into the game a way to "mod" it for just such purposes as this. So people can change graphics and change the game play and even distribute these mods. Valve doesn't care, that's why they built the modding engine.It would be different if a person had to hack the graphic files directly, and then somehow get people to download the new hacked versions. But that isn't the case.It's like how Windows has a built-in function to change your background image. Now suppose somebody made background images with ads in them. Should Microsoft care? You can't build a function to change background image, then sue people for changing the background image.Nor should Valve build a mod engine to change the game, then sue someone for using just that feature.But I'm sure there are other reason for the legal action besides just modding the game. I don't think they could take legal action just for someone creating a mod, that's what it is there for.
maxtor said:
@Need_a_Dell. Your aren't bombared by advertisments. The advertisements that I use as well as the ones that I have seen on other servers look like sprays on the walls. They are just edited textures. They aren't everywhere, they are usually just a a few spots on every map, it doesn't affect your gameplay, and if you can't deal with them for some odd reason. Well, you can leave the server and join one without any advertisements.I have advertisements to help pay for my servers, also to promote my web-hosting which is a small home business of mine.@vigilante. Yes that is a very good point. I agree, and I like your comparison with desktop wallpaper. But I am sure that Valve will have some very good arguments against yours.
vigilante said:
After reading the article again, it all boils down to this sentence by Valve:[quote]Advertising or any other commercial use of our games requires our written permission.[/quote]The problem is they took screenshots of CS with their ad system in it, for a commercial purpose. I suppose.On the other hand, a private server is not a commercial endeavor seeking to make profits. Returning to my desktop background analogy. Suppose, then, someone made that advertisment background image, then took a screenshot of it and posted it on the web to advertise their own advertising. In that particular case, it makes it "appear" as though somehow Windows was involved in the process, or is allowing this feature.I don't know, I guess it's hard to explain. Very hairy legalities there I think.
Race said:
[b]Originally posted by vigilante:[/b][quote]Don't forget, though, people aren't "hacking" the software to do this. Valve built into the game a way to "mod" it for just such purposes as this. So people can change graphics and change the game play and even distribute these mods. Valve doesn't care, that's why they built the modding engine.[/quote]Valve and other game makers include editors in their games for the modding comunity (fellow gamers) to expand on, not advertise through.I don't personally know any employees at Valve, but I do live fairly close to their main offices, and it's common knowledge around here that they are extremely protective of their property rights, and everything else they do.Could it be possible that the communication lines between Engage and IGA International weren't as they should be???If there was any question at all, and there is, Engage should have no doubt contacted Valve.
Cartz said:
The problem as I see it is not neccessairily the act of adding the advertisements to the game, it is the idea that the company was doing this with the sole intent to profit...Server admins advertise for the servers that are hosting their games and maybe a few other sites that are of interest to gamers. Usually this advertising space is not 'sold' and does not generate revenue, if it does, it is not substantial.When you have an independent company, who's sole purpose is to mod your game and include advertisements from large corporations it becomes a problem. Their ads are potentially worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and are essentially free to add to the game. (ie big profit margin) Valve is likely taking offense to this because it is the one shouldering the brunt of the costs (development, updates, hosting the steam service) If I were Valve, I wouldn't let this parasite company ride my coattails either, but I wouldn't mind if some server admin who loves my game wants to post an ad for his favorite computer hardware store.
Eko said:
So if you can help them getting more money is OK, but if you want to make your own on their back is a no-no ?!
mentaljedi said:
[b]Originally posted by asphix:[/b][quote][b]Originally posted by otmakus:[/b][quote]From what I get from the article, it seems Engage is altering Counter Strike's texture so that there are graffiti on the wall showing advertising. While this won't disturb the gaming experience too much, this is surely a breach of the copyright. Valve has all the right to allow or forbid any tinkering of its software, especially for any comercial reasons.[/quote]Exactly! I dont get the impression that this is an admin message (a.k.a text popping up on your screen for those who dont play) across your screen, nor use of the "server welcome" screen. I get the feeling these are modified textures on the walls containing "posters" that are advertisements.That would constitude modification of intelectual property. The online version is "free" but the intelectual property belongs to valve. Its in the EULA.. I wont go find it.. you can if you want to. WHen you purchase the game you are purchasing the right to play the game, not modify it. Not until they make an engine open source do you get that privilage. That doesnt only include the code, but textures and the like as well.Of course this is a thin line, because the modding community does just that. However, thats to promote the game and the fun that is derrived from the game. It isnt from a 3rd party company trying to make profit out of it.. so thats where the essential difference lies.Also, the online part isnt exactly "free". You purchase it with the single player part. The reason they dont charge monthly fees for it is because they dont provide servers. You must provide your own servers.[/quote]That would make sense. I believe that Valve has a right to get rid of it and anything like that. Funny how companies advertises these days though. ALso, if its not free then they are making some sort of profit (unless its really bad) in which case Valve should sue their as*es.
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