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Rumor: Sony Looking To Introduce In-Game Ads Into Free-to-Play PlayStation Games

Like Microsoft, Sony is allegedly developing a new digital ad program that will see in-game adverts added to free-to-play PlayStation titles.

Source: Death Stranding (2019), Kojima Productions

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According to Business Insider [2], who allegedly obtained information on the new service from “three people who are involved in the plans”, Sony is currently working with adtech partners to develop a plan to offer free-to-play developers further avenues of monetization.

The supposed sources also claimed that ads would be sold through a private marketplce and, after being purchased, appear on such elements as digital billboards. Sony may also be experimenting with presenting players with a full-blown commercial in exchange for in-game items such as skins.

 

Source: Gran Turismo 7 (2022), Sony Interactive Entertainment

Further, Sony is reportedly unsure of whether or not they’ll take a cut of ad revenue, with one source explaining that the company is also entertaining the idea of selling user activity data to video game developers and publishers.

However, one of the two sources – possibly the same one, though Business Insider did not specify – stated is Sony strictly vetting their adtech partners to rule out any who would collect personal user info.

Source: Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (2017), Sony Interactive Entertainment

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Noting that development on the ad program began shortly after the launch of the PlayStation 5 in November 2020, Business Insider’s sources posited that Sony’s latest scheme is expected to launch at the end of 2022.

Though Business Insider reached out to Sony ahead of publishing their story, the company did not respond to any of  the outlet’s request for comment.

Source: MLB The Show 20 (2020), Sony Interactive Entertainment

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Sony has already dabbled in the idea of integrating ads into their PlayStation products.

At current, they allow developers to feature ads in their own game menus for their other titles, as well as the standard ad breaks used by streaming services.

Source: Marvel’s Spider-Man (2018), Sony Interactive Entertainment

RELATED RUMOR: Microsoft Working On Adding In-Game Adverts To Free-To-Play Xbox Titles [5]

Interestingly, just days before this rumor concerning PlayStation surfaced, it was also suggested that Microsoft were trying to build a near-identical in-game advertising network [5] of their own, likewise for free-to-play games on Xbox consoles.

Source: Alan Wake (2010), Remedy Entertainment

If Sony is truly looking to develop such an ad sytem, they will likely be facing an uphill battle with users, as previous attempts at implementing in-game advertising systems outside of mobile or browser games have usually ended with developers facing extremely negative feedback.

In 2021, Facebook tested the use of in-game adverts in the Oculus VR release of Blaston before ultimately removing them less than a week [6] after they were implemented.

Source: Blaston (2020), Resolution Games

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That same year, EA similarly disabled in-game adverts in EA Sports UFC 4 – in this case two weeks after launch [8] – after receiving a deluge of “abundantly clear” negative feedback regarding their decision.

2K Games was also met with disgust when they began adding adverts to their NBA2k franchise, ranging from literal commercials to egregious (even for the series) instances of product placement, beginning with NBA2k19 [9] and continuing on through to the recent NBA 2K22 [10].

Source: NBA 2K22 (2021), 2K Sports

What do you make of Sony’s rumored attempt to introduce in-game advertising? Let us know what you think on social media and in the comments below.

NEXT: Death Stranding Appears in PlayStation Studio’s Banner, Hideo Kojima Insists Kojima Productions Will Remain Independent [11]