- Sony is building a program to let advertisers buy ads in PlayStation games.
- It is testing with adtech partners to place ads in the game, similar to an initiative from rival Microsoft.
- The program is expected to be launched before the end of the year.
Sony is working on a plan to place ads in PlayStation games, sources say, similar to a move by Microsoft to run ads on Xbox.
Three people involved in the plans said Sony is 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 risen sharply in the pandemic, by giving them a way to make money on them, they said.
PlayStation’s current ad inventory is limited to menu ads such as game publishers promoting their own titles in the console’s store, the sources said. PlayStation also shows ads on
video for people streaming via their consoles through apps like
The new effort, which is expected to be launched in late 2022, will put ads inside the PlayStation game itself, which will be sold 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 ads that give viewers rewards for viewing ads and promotions for in-game items such as avatar-skin.
Sony has not decided whether it will take a cut in revenue, the sources said; one said it is also considering charging developers and publishers for consumer activity data on PlayStation.
Sony did not respond to requests for comment.
Sources said Sony started talking about building the PlayStation advertising app about 18 months ago after launching the latest generation of its PS5 console. One said it is strictly investigating adtech companies and excluding the collection of personal information such as emails or names.
Dario Raciti, CEO of Zero Code, Omnicom’s gaming and sports industry, said advertisers might be fascinated by the idea of putting ads in front of players 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 players and measure the actions they took after seeing an ad. It will be difficult for adtech companies to convince developers to let them put ads in popular games, while many advertisers will avoid appearing in games with mature or violent content, he said.
“It’s a new thing, like the metaverse, and everyone is in a hurry to try it, but for the people who have played and understand the game audience, we will take a wait-and-see approach,” Raciti said.