Xbox is reportedly planning to allow advertisers to feature their advertisements in video games. In-game ads are hardly a new concept. In recent years, they've been integrated in a less intrusive way with games like Fortnite featuring skins and crossover events for new films. This has been an incredibly successful marketing tool for numerous film studios for the last few years and adds a fun layer to the game. Before that, there were games that were a bit shameless about it. Games like Saints Row 2 and Burnout Paradise featured billboards with ads for real-world things, the latter of which included a campaign advertisement for Barack Obama in 2008.
According to Business Insider, sources say that the old way of in-game advertising may be making a return via Xbox. Xbox is reportedly looking into rendering things like in-game billboards in free-to-play titles so advertisers can use them and have it ready by Q3 2022 (around fall). The idea is that this will be a money-making opportunity for the developer, rather than Xbox who isn't planning to take a cut of the revenue. Microsoft is also reportedly worried that this could irritate players, so it is being selective with the brands that can take advantage of these advertising opportunities without disrupting gameplay. Microsoft also doesn't have any plans to allow advertisers to collect data on players so that they can create targeted ads. In a statement to Business Insider, the platform holder didn't confirm these plans, but stated that they are "always looking for ways to improve the experience for players and developers."
Games like NBA 2K21 have been slammed for unskippable ads and blatant product placement, so players have voiced their dissatisfaction to shoving ads into a game. If it's something as simple as a poster on a wall, a billboard in the background, or something that isn't stopping gameplay and filling the screen, it's hard to imagine it being too inconvenient. At worst, it's an immersion breaker, but if it helps developers make money and prevents them from pushing unsavory microtransactions it could be a win.
What do you think of Xbox possibly allowing in-game ads? Let us know in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter @Cade_Onder.0comments