Players are used to pop-ups for other games when loading up something like Clash of Clans on their phone, but they probably don’t expect the same from a round of Apex Legends played on the couch.
However, according to several of Business Insider‘s (subscription required) sources, Microsoft may be looking to shift that perspective when it comes to the Xbox platform.
In-game advertisements have appeared in the past, and Microsoft’s rumored plan involves a lot of the same methods. The example given by inside sources involves branded billboards in racing games, something done as far back as the original Xbox with games like Burnout 3: Takedown. Other possible implementations include video ads playing in the background of online lobbies and branded avatar skins that wouldn’t be too dissimilar to the sponsored gamer pictures of the Xbox 360 days. It’s said that Microsoft hopes to have this new way to advertise to gamers up and running later this year.
While the possibility of ads popping up in games may ruffle the feathers of entrenched Xbox enthusiasts, the Microsoft team seems to want to make this move as painless as possible. It’s reported that Microsoft doesn’t want to take a cut of the ads, letting game developers share in the majority of the profits instead. The company is also well aware of the potential for backlash with this type of strategy, and it doesn’t want to disrupt the “normal gameplay experience” for anyone. Because of that, it’s said that Microsoft is vetting its potential partners carefully.
For its part, Microsoft did not confirm these plans when asked, but it does make sense to add this revenue stream to free-to-play games on Xbox. Most players have already accepted advertisements on the dashboard, and the rumored plans make it unlikely that the Pillsbury Doughboy will appear from nowhere and take up your full television the next time you load up Halo Infinite. As players continue to choose Game Pass and free titles over traditional $60 and $70 purchases, this type of deal, if it comes to fruition, has a chance to become more normalized as time goes on. However, that might depend on how it is received.