Insider claims that Microsoft is developing a system that will allow advertisers to place commercials in free-to-play Xbox games. According to insiders, the advertisements wouldn’t interfere with the game in any way, and they could show on a billboard in a racing game.
Whether Microsoft intends to use advertisements in other forms, such as skins for player avatars or movies played at game hubs, is unclear at this time. According to Insider, Microsoft is worried that the advertising may “irritate” players thus they intend to create a “closed marketplace” where only approved brands can participate.
According to Rumors, Microsoft Won’t Be Taking a Cut of Ad Revenue.
According to Insider’s sources, Microsoft won’t be taking a part of ad revenue, but instead split it 50/50 with the game maker and the advertising firm. Microsoft may simply want to use this to entice more free-to-play game developers to the platform, as it would provide another money source in addition to microtransactions.
Insider claims that Microsoft has no plans to leverage information gleaned from Bing and other services to personalize ad content on Xbox. Sources tell the publication that Microsoft has already pitched the idea to marketers, and that Xbox advertising will debut in the third quarter of this year.
A Microsoft representative told Insider, “We are continuously exploring ways to improve the experience for players and developers, but we don’t have anything else to add.” The Verge requested a comment from Microsoft, but the firm declined, citing the lack of new information since its statement to Insider.
Ads within console games are nothing new; publishers dabbled with the idea in the middle the to late aughts, primarily in premium titles. During this time period, EA Games worked with Massive, an advertising company owned by Microsoft that has since gone out of business, to allow advertisers to post in-game billboards in Madden NFL, Skate, NHL, and NASCAR, as well as Burnout Paradise. You may recall seeing Obama campaign advertisements in virtual stadiums and on virtual billboards if you played any of these games back in 2008. Real-life billboards, like this one promoting Netflix, appeared in Saints Row 2.
It was once interesting to see advertisements for real-world things within video games, but now that some next-gen titles cost close to $70, fans want an advertisement-free experience. For this reason, it makes sense that Microsoft is apparently launching the program exclusively for free-to-play games. Most recently, EA tried to sneak a full-screen, non-skippable advertisement into UFC 4 in 2020. Fans who shelled out $60 for the game were understandably dissatisfied, leading to EA’s decision to withdraw the ad.