Raise your hand if you can’t wait to see more ads in your favorite video games? I don’t see any hands. Well, bad news: a new report claims that Microsoft is building an ad program to give “certain brands” the ability to buy ads that will then appear free-to-play. Xbox Games. And while the report says Microsoft and Xbox are careful not to “irritate” gamers or disrupt games, most people are unlikely to like starting to see in-game ads.
Business Intern reports that Microsoft wants to work with ad tech companies to create a system that will allow brands and advertisers to buy and place ads in free Xbox games, according to two people who spoke to Initiated and who would be involved in the ongoing planning and negotiations of the program.
According to these sources, the ads could appear as digitally rendered billboards in a racing game or open-world adventure. However, it is currently unknown in what other forms these free advertisements might manifest, or whether they will include video or audio. Business Intern also couldn’t confirm whether Microsoft and Xbox have started launching advertisers and brands on the new ad system. Either way, it is expected to launch around the third quarter of this year.
A Microsoft spokesperson said My box that while “always looking for ways to improve the experience for players and developers”, the company had nothing further to share about the reported ad system.
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As pointed out Business Intern, Microsoft already sells limited advertising space on its consoles through in-dash ads and some in-game advertising offerings through third parties. However, this new program is Microsoft and Xbox’s attempt to reach out to more brands that are looking for ways to advertise to a growing audience of gamers, many of whom are younger, don’t watch TV. by cable and are increasingly difficult to reach. It is also suggested that Microsoft wants to woo more free developers to Xbox using these advertisements.
Interestingly, Microsoft is apparently very concerned about angering gamers who don’t normally expect to encounter ads in console games. This has led to a more cautious approach where, in an effort to ensure that no advertising disrupts gameplay, Microsoft will create a “private marketplace” that only certain brands will have access to.
Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen companies try to insert ads into video games. Ironically, Saints Row 2 already tried to do the whole “real world billboards” thing and it was a very fun and terrible experience. But as free games get bigger and bigger on consoles and younger gamers become harder to advertise using existing methods, it’s no surprise to see companies looking to place ads in more and more video games.
And because consoles are walled gardens, unable to easily access mods or hacks, that means you can’t just install an ad blocker to hide those ads like you do when you visit My box.