Microsoft goes Massive on Massive

Software giant Microsoft is about to shut down Massive, the in-game advertising unit which cost a bomb to buy in 2006.

According to Mediaweek, Microsoft has been running around trying to find a buyer for the unit and will probably just shut it down instead,

Redmond will assimilate Massive’s 80 employees into the glorious Microsoft collective although Massive’s general manager JJ Richards, is understood to be looking for work elsewhere.

Massive was a brilliant idea. It worked with developers and publishers to build advertising spaces into titles, then sell ad spots within its network that could be targeted to specific demographics.

The adverts could be changed long after a title had come out, adding some potential longevity to titles re-sold on the used games market.

But part of the problem was that the games makers also saw some advantages in the idea and started doing it themselves. Electronic Arts, for example, began its own in-game ad unit. It’s version was first seen on Madden NFL 11 earlier this year.

Microsoft itself was also cannibalising Massive’s market with its ownXbox Live platform. Redmond has been using its own advertising unit to sells ad spots on the Xbox 360’s dashboard.

It has been suggested that Massive cost Redmond between $200 to $400 million, money, which it would have turned out would have been better invested on a nag in the Grand National.

Redmond has not had much luck with online advertising. Last year it flogged Razorfish, the online advertising firm it bought as part of its $6 billion Aquantive purchase back in 2007.