Microsoft is developing an in-game advertising system for free-to-play games
In brief: Microsoft is actively working on new tools to help developers embed and sell in-game ad space. While advertising in mobile gaming is nothing new, the offerings would target console (and possibly PC) players in free-to-play games. Microsoft doesn’t plan to take any cut of the new ad revenue, but is instead focusing on building a strong network and platform to provide more opportunities for free-to-play game developers to connect. come up with potential advertisers.
Sources close to Microsoft recently told Business Insider that the new feature would provide a marketplace for ad placement companies to work closely with developers to free up space and place ads in free-to-play titles. The move would expand Xbox’s in-game advertising model, historically limited to Xbox dashboard ads or specialized ads purchased and placed through third parties.
Despite its intent to advertise more, Microsoft claims it understands the potential concerns of users. It will look for ways to integrate the new advertising model without disturbing users with overly intrusive advertisements.
The concept of in-game advertising is certainly nothing new. Some of the earliest in-game advertising dates back to the humble beginnings of gaming in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The practice has since evolved, moving away from Adventureland’s black-and-white text to more direct, visually appealing approaches to to reach target groups. The current advertising model has evolved into a much more sophisticated system that doesn’t rely solely on product-focused titles or static images.
In addition to technical advancements, in-game advertising practices have seen a significant rise as pandemic-related gaming has become a go-to social feature for millions of people around the world. Users are typically given the opportunity to earn in-game currency or items in exchange for watching ad videos or clicking specific ad links. Some platforms, such as playerWON, offer practical and sometimes intrusive in-game advertisements or commercials. Others, such as Anzu, try to take a more subtle and less obtrusive approach, selling advertising space such as billboards and in-game backgrounds.
The Redmond-based tech giant’s recent moves support speculation that the company is interested in developing a comprehensive advertising network and platform. The recent moves to buy Activision add a turnkey ad network to the company’s portfolio. The company also acquired AT&T’s former advertising marketplace, Xandr, last December.
Sources close to Business Insider expect the new ad opportunity to be live and available by the third quarter of 2022. Microsoft has not officially confirmed or denied the plans, stating, “We’re always looking for ways to improve the experience for players and developers. improve, but we’ve got nothing left to share.”