According to Advertising Insider, Sony wants to encourage developers to create free-to-play games by adding this new way to monetize them beyond microtransactions and battle passes. Similar to what we know about Xbox’s program, the goal for Sony is for the ads to fit in with the rest of the game, like putting real-life ads on billboards in virtual sports stadiums. Sony is also looking into rewarding players for watching ads and promotions with in-game items, including avatar skins.
While we already know Microsoft isn’t planning to take a cut of the revenue, Sony is still deciding if it will take a share. As for what companies Sony will partner with, one source in the report said Sony has a strict vetting process for selecting ad partners, ruling out any company that collects personal information like email addresses and names. Sony’s program is supposed to launch by the end of this year.
There are some concerns about the program, namely how companies will be able to track gamers and their purchasing habits after seeing the ad in-game. And, some advertisers may want to avoid promiting their product in games with violent content.
Xbox is reportedly planning to launch its advertising program by the third quarter of 2022. It could include ads showing up as rendered billboards in racing games, for example. The profits will be shared between the game developer and ad company.
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Advertising in games is not a new concept, but it is a first to see Xbox and PlayStation each committing to the idea at this level. Previously, we’ve seen EA remove ads from UFC 4 after fan outcry, and we saw NBA 2K21 add unskippable advertisements into its loading screens.
Logan Plant is a freelance writer for IGN. You can find him on Twitter @LoganJPlant.