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Microsoft to close Massive ad division

Microsoft is allegedly closing down its in-game advertising division, Massive, with its employees due to be reassigned before the end of the month.

The report, which has not yet been confirmed by Microsoft, comes from industry watcher MediaWeek, which quotes "insiders at Microsoft" as claiming that Massive's general manager JJ Richards is on the hunt for work elsewhere as Microsoft winds the division up.

The move comes just four years after Microsoft bought the in-game advertising firm in a multi-million dollar deal designed to give Microsoft a cut of the proceeds of what was at the time believed to be a growing and lucrative market.

Sadly, the expected returns haven't materialised - and with Microsoft's Xbox Live and Games For Windows Live proving a much more profitable enterprise, it looks like Microsoft has had enough and wants out.

The software giant has been reportedly sniffing around for a buyer for Massive for several months, hoping to offload the division onto another in-game advertising firm such as Double Fusion, but has so far failed to find a buyer.

If true, the move shouldn't come as a surprise: earlier this year games publisher Electronic Arts launched an in-house division for in-game advertising, cancelling a contract with Massive that was thought to account for a large chunk of the company's turnover. With the hammer-blow of losing a major publisher coupled with a more lucrative advertising division over with the Xbox Live team, the writing has been on the wall for Massive for some time.