The report in question comes from Business Insider, citing three sources involved with Sony’s rumored plan. The idea is that Sony encourages more developers to make free-to-play titles by offering them more ways to monetize.
As it stands Sony’s ad inventory is limited to menu ads, used to promote games and services on the PlayStation store, and streaming video ads in certain apps. However, this move is said to involve ad-tech partnerships, so that developers can serve gamers ads in free-to-play titles.
For what it’s worth, Sony apparently wants ads to be a “natural” part of the gaming experience. Things like billboards in sports games, for example, rather than intrusive ads that might interrupt the flow of the game. However, there may also be an option to offer rewards for players willing to watch ads and promotions, in the form of in-game items.
Sony is also supposedly being strict about vetting its possible adtech partners, and ruling out the collection of personal information. Though one source said that it may end up selling data on PlayStation user activity to developers and publishers. Hopefully that means general trends, rather than anonymized information about specific user activity.
Business Insider’s sources claim that Sony started considering this plan 18 months ago, and may be looking to roll out the new advertising blitz before the end of the year.
Reports of Microsoft’s plan for free-to-play advertising didn’t include this sort of timeline, with BI’s report claiming that the company was “moving cautiously” to avoid gamer backlash. While I can’t see there not being backlash towards increased advertising rushing into these things without considering those ramifications only makes it worse.
Here’s hoping Sony has realized that as well. The last thing we need is a bunch of terrible ads showing up in PlayStation games without much, if any consideration for how people might take it. In fact, as my colleague Marshall Honorof says, both Xbox and PS5 getting more ads would be nothing short of exhausting.