Microsoft aims to include ads to help provide revenue for both the game developer and ad company. As such, the tech giant is not taking a cut from the ad revenue and instead allows the two parties to share the ad funds.
As for what this program will end up looking like, a lot still remains unanswered. The report claims that Microsoft is working to give “select brands” the ability to purchase ad space. These ads will then appear in free-to-play Xbox games. However, the company appears to be aware of how players may react. Microsoft and Xbox are reportedly investigating ways to not “irritate” players.
These ads could theoretically appear as billboards in a racing game or in an open-world title. Though, the full extent of how this program will implement ads is still relatively unknown. Likewise, it’s not known if the ads will be static images and logos or if video ads will run in-game. However, Business Insider did confirm that Microsoft will not be using collected data from Bing or other services to create targeted ads.
Microsoft may be moving swiftly on this program and could introduce it as early as Q3 2022. That said, it’s not confirmed whether Xbox has started pitching advertisers on the program yet.
Microsoft and the Xbox ecosystem are not exactly strangers to presenting ads. Any console player booting up their Xbox One or Xbox Series X/S is immediately met with ads on the dashboard. These typically promote games, new movies, services, etc. However, given that Microsoft is creating a more “private marketplace” for ads within games, it’ll be interesting to see how it targets the gaming audience specifically.
Fortunately, this initiative will solely be focused on free-to-play titles. Publishers who attempted to implement ads into full-priced games, like EA, have received backlash in the past. UFC 4 saw an outpour of player criticisms as unskippable ads were featured in a $70 game.
Meta also added in-game ads to Blaston, which again, wasn’t received well by players.