According to a new report, Sony and Microsoft may plan to implement an advertising network that could see free-to-play games be filled with in-game advertisements on PlayStation and Xbox consoles. Sources familiar with the two company’s strategies have claimed.
Business Insider reports three people are involved with Sony testing out a new ad platform with developers to help put in-game ads through a software developer program. The move encourages developers to create free-to-play games and offers a way to monetize their titles.
Currently, PlayStation shows advertisements in-menus that enable game publishers to promote their games in the console’s store. PlayStation also serves ads on streaming video to users who stream via their consoles through apps like Hulu. The new ad platform would allow developers to have an additional way to advertise to the already hard-to-reach gamers, and promote products and services.
The new in-game ad network is expected to launch at the end of 2022
The new in-game ad network is expected to launch at the end of 2022, and the ads could be sold via a private marketplace. It’s not yet clear if Sony is planning on taking a cut of the revenue, but the sources claimed that Sony might only be interested in the data on consumer activity on the PlayStation platform.
The report also states that the in-game advertisements would appear like they are part of the game, and show up in places such as sports stadiums, billboards, and other conventional places where users would otherwise expect to see some form of banners and ads.
Disadvantages of ads in games
Leaves room for abuse
No one wants to see ads, period.
On a more serious note, we all have to admit that ever since both large and small developers implemented advertisements in mobile applications and games, their revenue has increased significantly. While many developers still abuse the system by constantly making ads pop up, many publishers balance it well, which increases their income.
Ads could frustrate gamers
If Sony manages to make a guideline and policy on how many adverts can pop up, it could reduce gamers getting annoyed by the sponsored spots, which could be used to get upgrades, in-game money, and other power-up benefits, similar to how it currently works on mobile. The report also doesn’t mention whether AAA titles could get involved in this, which would make a lot of sense for games such as Grand Theft Auto, which has a massive active user base, real-life layout and structures, and a massive sandbox map with a lot of billboards and in-game (not real) advertisements.
Even if Sony and Microsoft sort out the ad placement strategy, they’ll have to develop a way to make these banners more interactive. Once you click on an ad on the web or in mobile apps, you’re taken to a landing page or the advertiser’s requested website to browse the products and services. This doesn’t seem feasible if the banners appear like they are part of the game, as they might not be interactive enough to convince users, but it’s a legitimate way to increase brand awareness.
Privacy and mature content
Many large publishers will likely want to avoid Sony and Microsoft’s way of putting adverts into games and work on their own solutions to avoid sharing data, but this could be difficult if the two companies change some of their policies which could force large media entities to use “first-party” tools to monetize their platforms, in exchange of sharing data on how users interact with these ads.
Popular developers and publishers might also want to avoid joining the ad network, as it could put banners in games aimed at more mature audiences and involve adult material. Most advertisers are so-called_family-friendly,_ and it wouldn't make sense for them to put their brand next to content that is deemed mature.
Advantages of in-game ads
It’s plain and simple. Both big and small developers and publishing studios could increase their revenue by monetizing free-to-play games. That’s a plus for everyone, as developers could focus more on enhancing the game and updating it more frequently with new updates and features.
Some games could be more immersive
Some games, such as Grand Theft Auto 5 and Euro Truck Simulator 2, have massive fan bases and an active modding community. While GTA is an action/sandbox game, many like the enormous map, and the fact that it’s immersive with the real-life-like buildings, road layout, cars, and more. The modding community already has a lot of free downloadable mods that replace the in-game banners with real-life advertisements to enhance the experience and make it more immersive.
Euro Truck Simulator 2 also has a lot of similar mods that replace petrol stations and companies with real logos and businesses. Games like FIFA, NFL, and NBA 2K also show real-life ads from their partners and advertisers, but this often only involves showing logos and not displaying actual products or services.
It all comes down to Sony and Microsoft finding the right balance, and developers implementing advertisements that don’t bother gamers. Like it or hate it, advertisements will soon be everywhere around us, and most places will be filled with colorful and eye-catching images, moving elements, and videos to make us buy things we don’t need. Advertisements in the metaverse will be the next big thing, and I just hope that companies like Meta will not do what’s shown in Ready Player One.
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