Microsoft & Sony mull introducing in-game ads for console games

Mike Wheatley

PlayStation and Xbox gamers could soon find themselves being targeted with ads inside of free-to-play console games, according to a couple of reports by Business Insider.


The reports detail the almost identical plans of both Microsoft and Sony to allow advertisers to carefully insert ads within free-to-play titles on their consoles.

According to one of the reports, which cites two people familiar with the company’s plans, “Microsoft… is currently identifying adtech companies who can create the in-game inventory and work with ad agencies to place the ads”.

The sources explained that the ads would be as intrusive as possible, showing up as digitally-rendered billboards in a car racing game, for example.

Business Insider said Microsoft was hoping to have the in-game ads up and running by the third quarter, though the company has not commented publicly on the plans. As for Sony, it could launch its own in-game ads by the end of the year, a second report said.

According to that report, the initiative would involve putting ad spaces inside PlayStation games, which would be sold via a private marketplace. “The goal is for the ads to appear like they’re part of the game, like digital billboards in sports stadiums,” the report noted.

Some of the possible advertising formats being explored include ads that reward viewers for watching, as well as promotions for in-game items such as avatar skins. Microsoft is reportedly not planning to take a cut of advertising sales, while Sony has yet to reach a decision on it, the sources said.

What is clear is that both companies are keen to encourage game developers to design more free-to-play console games, as opposed to premium titles where gamers have to pay a fee upfront before they can start playing the game. Free-to-play games, often known as “freemium” games in the mobile gaming world, generally include optional paid features.