The gaming industry may be recession-resistant, but in-game advertising is getting hammered just like every other ad sector. Case in point: in-game ad firm IGA Worldwide is now up for sale. Chairman and co-founder Justin Townsend told VentureBeat that the company was just weeks away from securing its third round of funding, but that it had to pursue a possible sale as a "fiduciary duty" to shareholders.
IGA has raised roughly $46 million in funding since 2006. Investors included: GE/NBCU's Peacock Equity Fund, *Intel*, KTB Ventures, Easton Capital, Morganthaler Ventures and DN Capital; its most recent round was a $4 million add-on in early 2008 from Asian investors Translink Capital, Sumimoto Corp.'s Presidio STX, and Itochu. IGA planned to use the funds to expand into Asia; there was no follow-up news about those plans, though it opened a French office last October.
IGA inserts dynamic ads into console-based games that are connected to the web; it competes with the likes of Double Fusion and Microsoft's Massive for the rights to place these ads in games from various publishers. (The ad pictured was a custom insertion of British apparel brand Ben Sherman into racing game Test Drive Unlimited). Most recently, the company had secured the rights to run ads in EA and *Activision* games for the PS3, but Townsend said advertisers scaled back their budgets too much over the course of Q4. The company laid off about a quarter of its staff in November as a result, leaving it with roughly 45 employees. Townsend told VentureBeat that he didn't want to accept "low ball offers," but with credit markets still relatively frozen and the ongoing grim ad forecasts, a fire sale may be IGA's only option.
By Tameka Kee