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Microsoft to buy in-game ad firm Massive in $400m deal

NEW YORK – Microsoft is understood to be on the verge of acquiring Massive Incorporated, the US technology and advertising firm that specialises in inserting ads into videogames.

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According to media reports in the US, the deal could be worth up to $400m (£224m) and will help Microsoft gain a foothold in this small but growing sector.

It is understood that advertisers are set to spend around $100m this year alone on in-game advertising, increasingly seen as a crucial way to target 18- to 34-year-old men.

Of those agencies that specialise in the sector, Massive is one of the biggest names in the US, placing virtual billboards and other promotions in games such as US Major League Baseball game 'MLB 2K6'. 

Its clients include Coca-Cola, 20th Century Fox and Panasonic, and games publishers it works for include THQ, Ubisoft and Activision.

Innovations in the sector include being able to create changeable billboards within games connected to the internet to be tailored to the player's tastes.

So far this has been mostly on PC games, but Microsoft's interest in Massive signals a drive to tap into the increasing use of online gaming on consoles tying up with its Xbox 360.

If the deal is completed it would add to an increasing move by Microsoft into the gaming sector, which included the purchase of UK games studio Lionhead this month.

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