Microsoft’s Massive in-game ad division has a new leader: former Xbox Live GM JJ Richards. As ClickZ notes, Richards is a natural fit for the new position — he helped initiate MSFT’s acquisition of Massive in 2006, and has helped grow Xbox Live into a viable community (not to mention a steady revenue source for MSFT). Richards takes the helm from Cory Van Arsdale as Massive hosts its first game advertising upfront — a chance to show off its successful campaigns and lure both advertisers and game publishers in for new deals. Massive announced two such deals with Activision (NSDQ: ATVI) Blizzard today:
— An open-ended deal to serve ads in various Activision games for Xbox 360 and PC : It’s a multi-year extension of a previously established deal between the two, and ratchets up the number of available titles to 18, including Guitar Hero: World Tour, and the Tony Hawk franchise.
— A new deal to run ads on Blizzard’s Websites and its Battle.net portal: It’s Massive’s first tie-up with the World of Warcraft developer, and also the first time that Blizzard will feature third-party ads on its sites. Battle.net serves as an information hub and community around Blizzard’s trio of MMORPGs — WoW, StarCraft and Diablo.
The upfront caps off a few months of Massive tie-ups, including an exclusive deal to plug ads into various THQ (NSDQ: THQI) games (including Saint Row 2) and a deal with EA that runs through 2010 to manage ads in the Madden, NBA LIVE, and Need For Speed series’, among others.