- Sony is building a program to let advertisers buy ads in PlayStation games.
- It’s doing testing with adtech partners to place in-game ads, similar to an initiative by rival Microsoft.
- The program is expected to launch before the end of the year.
Sony is working on a plan to put ads inside PlayStation games, sources said, similar to a move by Microsoft to run ads in Xbox.
Three people who are involved in the plans said Sony is doing testing with adtech partners to help game developers create in-game ads through a software developer program. The idea is to encourage developers to keep building free-to-play games, which have soared in the pandemic, by giving them a way to monetize them, they said.
PlayStation’s current ad inventory is limited to in-menu ads like game publishers promoting their own titles in the console’s store, the sources said. PlayStation also serves ads on
video to people who stream via their consoles through apps like
The new effort, expected to launch by end of 2022, would put ads inside PlayStation games themselves, to be sold via a private marketplace, the sources said. The goal is for the ads to appear like they’re part of the game, like digital billboards in sports stadiums. Formats could include ads that give viewers rewards for watching ads and promotions for in-game items like avatar skins.
Sony hasn’t decided if it would take a cut of the revenue, the sources said; one said it’s also considering charging developers and publishers for data on consumer activity on the PlayStation.
Sony didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Sources said Sony started talking about building the PlayStation ad program about 18 months ago after launching the latest generation of its PS5 console. One said it’s being strict about vetting adtech companies, ruling out collection of personal information like emails or names.
Dario Raciti, managing director of Zero Code, Omnicom’s gaming and esports arm, said advertisers might be intrigued by the idea of putting ads in front of gamers, who are hard to reach with traditional ads. But he also expressed skepticism that the PlayStation and Xbox ad programs, as described by Insider, would be able to track gamers and measure the actions they took after seeing an ad. It’ll be hard for adtech companies to convince developers to let them put ads in popular games, while many advertisers will want to avoid appearing in games with mature or violent content, he said.
“It’s a new thing, just like the metaverse, and everyone rushes to try it out, but for the people who have done gaming and understand the gaming audience, we’ll apply a wait and see approach,” Raciti said.