Sony, Microsoft Reportedly Working on Integrating Ads into Free-to-Play Games

Sony and Microsoft are reportedly working on ways to run in-game ads in free-to-play titles.
Sony and Microsoft are reportedly working on ways to run in-game ads in free-to-play titles. / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

Sony and Microsoft are working on creating private ad marketplaces to enable in-game ads to be run in free-to-play titles, according to a report by Business Insider.

Both gaming giants are reportedly looking to partner with adtech companies to help game developers create and place the ads, with Business Insider's sources reportedly expecting Microsoft's ad program to be live by Q3 2022, and Sony's own to launch by the end of the year.

"The idea is to encourage developers to keep building free-to-play games," Business Insider reports, "which have soared in the pandemic, by giving them a way to monetize them."

Up to this point, both Sony and Microsoft have allowed limited forms of advertising, from ads appearing on the consoles' respective home dashboard screens to those being used in video streaming apps.

These new programs would seemingly take these efforts to a new level, providing any participating game developer with the tools to sell and place ads inside their games as they see fit.

"The goal is for the ads to appear like they're part of the game," Business Insider reports, "like digital billboards in sports stadiums. Formats could include ads that give viewers rewards for watching ads and promotions for in-game items like avatar skins."

According to Business Insider, a slice of the ad revenue doesn't appear to be much of a priority for either company at this time as compared to concerns over the ads potentially annoying players, as well as the topic of securing their customers' data.

Sony is reportedly "considering charging developers and publishers for data on consumer activity" on the PlayStation platform, as well as "being strict about vetting adtech companies" and "ruling out collection of personal information like emails or names."

Microsoft is seemingly "more interested in building out the Xbox ad network," and has "no immediate plans" to let advertisers use consumer data collected from "searches on Bing" and "behavior on its sites and software" to target people on Xbox.