Microsoft is reportedly working on a scheme that would allow businesses to display ads within free-to-play Xbox games. According to those acquainted with the matter, the adverts would not interfere with gameplay.
It’s unclear how else Microsoft intends to introduce adverts, such as having them appear as avatar skins or as videos within gaming lobbies. However, as reported by Insider, Microsoft is concerned that the advertising may “irritate” players and plans to develop a “private marketplace” to allow only certain businesses into the programme.
According to Insider, Microsoft does not intend to take a portion of ad income, instead allowing the game developer and advertising business to split the cash.
A Microsoft spokesperson, in a statement to the Insider, said, “We are always looking for ways to improve the experience for players and developers but we don’t have anything further to share.”
As per Insider, Microsoft will not utilise data gathered from Bing and other services to target advertisements on Xbox. The outlet also does not know whether Microsoft has yet approached advertisers about the plan, but its sources predict advertising will begin showing on Xbox as early as the third quarter of this year.
In-game adverts on console games aren’t a new trend as game developers tested these in paid games from the mid to late 2000s, especially when Microsoft-owned advertising company Massive (now-defunct) partnered with EA Games. Back then, this partnership allowed companies to place ads in games like Madden NFL, Burnout Paradise etc.
In-game advertisements for real-world products may have been unique in the past, but with some next-gen titles costing close to $70, consumers expect an ad-free experience, which is likely why Microsoft is apparently limiting the program to free-to-play games only.