Sony is reportedly planning to introduce advertisements to free-to-play games on PlayStation consoles — including the PS5 and PS4 — in a bid to help game developers generate extra revenue. Free-to-play titles increased in popularity during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The news comes days after a report that claimed Microsoft is exploring monetising free-to-play games with advertisements. The promotions could be located in-game, and publishers could reward gamers for watching ads with skins and other cosmetic items, while helping developers earn more revenue from their titles in addition to in-game purchases.
According to a report by Business Insider citing three people familiar with the development, Sony is currently working with ad-tech partners for a software development programme in order to help developers to create in-game ads for free-to-play games. The company has not yet decided whether it will take a cut of the revenue earned from these in-game advertisements, according to the report.
Publishers can currently display promotions in in-game menus, pointing gamers to other titles on the PlayStation Store. Certain apps that allow users to stream video, can also serve ads. Meanwhile, the new advertising opportunities being explored by Sony will reportedly let developers and publishers add promotional content directly inside PlayStation games, encouraging them to keep building these games, which are said to have increased in popularity during the pandemic.
The PlayStation maker is reportedly working on non-intrusive advertisements that could be integrated into games, such as ads on digital billboards in sports stadiums, according to the report. These ads would be sold via a private marketplace, but the company is reportedly being strict about which ad-tech companies will be part of the initiative. For what it’s worth, collection of personally identifiable information like names or email addresses will not be allowed.
Rival Microsoft is also working on a way to bring ads to free-to-play titles on its Xbox consoles that could go live as early as the third quarter of 2022, according to a recent report. The Redmond-based company has been working on building an in-game Xbox ad network since 2018.
Meanwhile, the Insider report reveals that Sony began considering adding in-game advertisements to free-to-play games around 18 months ago, following the debut of its current generation PlayStation 5. In-game ads support is expected to launch by the end of the year on PS5 and PS4.