Microsoft is reportedly working on a program that will allow brands to feature ads in free Xbox games, according to a report by Initiated. Sources close to the situation said Initiated that ads would not disrupt gameplay and could appear on a billboard in a racing game, for example.
It’s not immediately clear how Microsoft plans to implement ads, such as having them appear as avatar skins or videos in game lobbies. But like Initiated note, Microsoft is reportedly concerned that the ads could “irritate” gamers, and plans to create a “private marketplace” to only let certain brands into the program.
Sources also said Initiated that Microsoft has no intention of cutting ad revenue and will instead allow the game developer and ad company to share the funds. It’s possible that Microsoft just wants to use this as a way to attract more free-to-play game developers to the platform, as it would open up another revenue stream outside of microtransactions.
According to Initiated, Microsoft will not use data collected from Bing and other services for targeted advertising on Xbox. The outlet also isn’t sure if Microsoft has pitched the idea to advertisers yet, but its sources say ads will start appearing on Xbox as early as the third quarter of this year.
“We are always looking for ways to improve the experience for players and developers, but have nothing further to share,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement. Initiated. Microsoft did not immediately respond to The edgerequest for comment.
In-game ads on console games are not a new concept – game companies experimented with them extensively in paid games in the mid to late 2000s. EA Games in partnership with the (now defunct) advertising company Massive, owned by Microsoft, allowing businesses to place ads in Madden NFL, skate, NHLand NASCAR franchises, as well as in burnout paradise. If you played any of these games back in the day, you might remember seeing Obama’s digital ads plastered in digital sports arenas or on billboards. Saints Row 2 even had actual advertisements on billboards, like this one for netflix.
In-game ads for actual products may have been a novelty back then, but with some next-gen games costing nearly $70, players expect an ad-free experience – that’s probably why for which Microsoft would roll out the initiative for free games only. More recently, EA attempted to insert an inescapable full-screen ad into UFC 4 in 2020. Fans who paid for the $60 game were obviously unhappy, leading EA to pull the ad.