Microsoft May Soon Allow Ads in Free-to-Play Xbox Games

Posted on April 15, 2022 by Laurent Giret in Games, Xbox with 9 Comments

Microsoft is reportedly working on a new ad network that will allow advertisers to show ads in free-to-play games on Xbox consoles. According to Business Insider, Microsoft is currently in discussions with ad tech companies and ad agencies and the program could launch in the third quarter of this year.

“This new program will boost Xbox’s limited ad inventory by adding more games that brands can advertise in and by allowing more developers to sell ad space,” wrote Business Insider. “Those sources said those ads would show up as, for instance, digitally rendered billboards in a car racing game. Insider was unable to learn if Xbox will also offer other types of in-game ad units, like avatar skins or video ads that play in gaming lobbies.”

According to the report, internal discussions about this Xbox in-game ad network started around 2018 or 2019, and development accelerated following the launch of the Xbox Series X|S in 2020 and the increasing popularity of free-to-play games. Microsoft is said to be not interested in taking a cut of ad revenue for now as the company focuses on getting developers and ad networks on board.

Microsoft is already displaying ads on the Xbox dashboard, which some gamers may find a little bit too intrusive. According to Business Insider’s sources, “Microsoft is worried inserting ads into Xbox games could irritate people who don’t expect to see ads when playing on consoles, so it’s moving cautiously and intends to create a “private marketplace,” where only select brands can insert ads into games in a way that doesn’t disrupt the gameplay experience.

Business Insider reached out to Microsoft about these Xbox ad network plans, but the company didn’t comment. “We are always looking for ways to improve the experience for players and developers but we don’t have anything further to share,” a Microsoft spokesperson said.

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Comments (9)

9 responses to “Microsoft May Soon Allow Ads in Free-to-Play Xbox Games”

  1. Donte

    If a game has an ad or a political statement in it, I won’t touch it.

    I remember starting COD MW 2019 one day and the game paused and forced you to sit through a BLM statement for at least a min. I never bought a season pass again. For that matter I have not spent a dime on COD since.

  2. jamJAR

    So... make them like mobile games?

  3. SenorGravy

    "Not putting a political statement in a game is in itself a political decision".

    This is the dumbest thing I've read today. But the day is only half over.

    • spacein_vader

      It's not difficult to grasp. Let's say a dev makes a game about hunting deer. They have 3 choices:

      1. Include content that tries to influence the player that deer hunting is a good thing.

      2. Include content that tries to influence the player that deer hunting is a bad thing.

      3. Include neither type of content, not trying to influence the player on that topic at all.

      Any of the 3 could go against the devs personal views and its up to them how they want to influence their players.

      • hellcatm

        The best thing to do is leave political and religious ads out of the games altogether. Respect all political and religious (or non-religious) factions by not going there at all. Leave the ads to product placement (food, drink, decore...etc).

  4. scovious

    I hope there could be an optional addon sold separately for each game which, for a one time purchase, could allow us to block all ads in that game. Some mobile games do that, and I would love to see it mandatory on console; where gaming is typically less watered down and over-monetized. Ads in free games was kind of inevitable, but I wish it were done more ethically across the board.

  5. hellcatm

    If the ads are billboards in games, and cans of coke or sprite, you go into a market and see actual brands on shelves, in other words just product placement I can deal with that because I ignore those on a daily basis anyway.