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In brief: Over the weekend, news circulated that Microsoft is working on a system to let developers embed advertising into free-to-play games. Now it sounds like Sony has similar plans. This could turn console gamers into a new target market for advertisers.
Business Insider sources claim that Sony is working out ways to get ads into free-to-play PlayStation games. The goal would be to encourage the development of more free-to-play games by giving developers more possible revenue streams.
Instead of simply appearing in a PlayStation console's interface or in-game menus, developers could place ads within a game's environment, like virtual billboards or product placement. Advertising such as this is nothing new, but it could become more common if Sony supports it at the platform level. Under this system, free-to-play games may also give players rewards for watching ads, which is routine in mobile games.
Developers would sell the ads on a private marketplace, but Sony hasn't determined whether to take a cut of the revenue. Microsoft's plans sound nearly identical, except it won't take a share of ad revenue.
However, Sony may sell user data to advertisers, such as what players do after viewing an ad. According to one source, that data wouldn't include players' names or email addresses, and Sony is strictly vetting ad clients.
Plans for ad-supported PlayStation games started around the time Sony launched the PlayStation 5 in late 2020. Where Microsoft's in-game ad system may appear by the third quarter of this year, Sony's is expected by the end of the year.