Sony plans to sell advertising in PlayStation games

  • Sony is building a program to allow advertisers to buy ads in PlayStation games.
  • It is experimenting with adtech partners to place in-game ads, similar to an initiative by rival Microsoft.
  • The program should be launched before the end of the year.

Sony is working on a plan to put ads in PlayStation games, sources said, similar to a move by Microsoft to run ads on Xbox.

Three people involved in the plans said Sony is conducting tests with adtech partners to help game developers create in-game ads through a software development program. The idea is to encourage developers to keep making free games, which have exploded during the pandemic, by giving them a way to monetize them, they said.

PlayStation’s current ad inventory is limited to in-menu ads, such as game publishers promoting their own titles in the console store, the sources said. PlayStation also runs advertisements on


Diffusion

video to people who stream through their consoles through apps like


Hulu

.

The new effort, which is expected to launch by the end of 2022, would put ads in PlayStation games themselves, for sale through a private marketplace, the sources said. The goal is for the ads to appear as if they are part of the game, like digital billboards in sports stadiums. Formats may include advertisements that offer viewers rewards for watching advertisements and promotions for game items like avatar skins.

Sony hasn’t decided whether it will take a revenue cut, the sources said; one said it was also considering charging developers and publishers for data on consumer activity on the PlayStation.

Sony did not respond to requests for comment.

Sources said that Sony started talking about the creation of the PlayStation advertising program around 18 months ago after the launch of the latest generation of its PS5 console. One said it was strict to vet ad tech companies, excluding the collection of personal information such as emails or names.

Dario Raciti, chief executive 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 about the ability of PlayStation and Xbox ad programs, as described by Insider, to track gamers and measure the actions they took after seeing an ad. It will be difficult for ad tech 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 is rushing to try it, but for people who have done the game and understand the game’s audience, we’ll take a wait-and-see approach,” said Raciti.

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