Following reports earlier this week that Microsoft is considering introducing ads to free-to-play games on Xbox, a new report has surfaced claiming Sony has been working on its own plan to do the same with its PlayStation games.
As reported by Business Insider (paywall), which cites three people involved with Sony plans as its sources, the company is currently investigating ways to encourage developers to continue making free-to-play games – said to have soared in popularity during the pandemic – by providing new ways to monetize them.
At present, PlayStation’s ad inventory is said to be limited to in-menu ads – which can be used by publishers and developers to do things like promote their own games on the PlayStation Store – and ads served via streaming video on certain apps.
However, Sony’s is currently said to be working with its adtech partners to create new advertising opportunities for free-to-play developers that can be directly served in-game, with the goal being to make them feel like a natural part of the experience – such as via digital billboards in sports titles.
The initiative, which Sony reportedly began considering 18 months ago – and which it’s looking to roll out by the end of the year – may also include options for developers to reward players for watching ads and promotions with in-game items such as avatar skins.
Business Insider reports Sony is currently being strict about vetting adtech companies for its private marketplace, and is ruling out collecting personal information such as emails and names – but questions still remain as to how it may choose to take a cut of revenue earned through in- game advertising. One source claims the company is considering selling data on consumer activity on PlayStation to developers and publishers.
Business Insider did, of course, share a similar report on Microsoft earlier this week, claiming the company was currently considering introducing advertisements to free-to-play Xbox games in a way that “doesn’t disrupt the gameplay experience”.
However, while Sony is reportedly already in talks with partners about its new monetization initiative, Business Insider was unclear if Microsoft had starting pitching the Xbox offer or if its plans were still in their infancy. Either way, Microsoft was said to be “moving cautiously” in order to avoid a potential backlash from players.