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Microsoft reportedly working on showing ads in free-to-play Xbox games

If you enjoy playing free games on Xbox, you may soon start seeing ads, thanks to Microsoft.

According to a report from Insider, Microsoft is working on allowing brands to advertise inside free-to-play games on its popular Xbox platform. However, people familiar with the Redmond-based company say the ads will not affect gameplay as they will be placed non-intrusively, like on a billboard within a racing game.

However, the sources have not revealed whether Microsoft will use other methods like avatar skins or in-game lobbies to display the ads. But they note that Microsoft is taking extraordinary steps to avoid irritating the players with the ads. It will reportedly set up a private marketplace to buy ads, and only select brands would be allowed in.

Insider also reports that Microsoft does not plan to get a cut from the revenue from the ads and will let the game maker and the ad company share the proceeds. If that is the case, Microsoft is simply using the new ads to attract more developers to make free-to-play games for its gaming platform. It means the devs have another means of generating revenue apart from microtransactions. This will help smaller game studios without the might of Epic Games or Activision Blizzard to supplement their income.

Also, as reported by Insider, Microsoft doesn’t plan to support the ad platform with user data it gets through its search engine Bing and other services. How this will affect the advertisers’ ability to target demographics is not yet known. The ads will start showing up in the third quarter of 2022, although it is unclear whether Microsoft has started recruiting advertisers.

When Insider tried to confirm the news, Microsoft replied it is always looking for ways to improve the gaming experience for both gamers and developers but has nothing to share for now. It is noteworthy that Microsoft did not deny the existence of the program.

In-game ads are not exactly a new idea, as game makers experimented with the concept in the 2000s’. For example, EA Games had an arrangement with Massive, a Microsoft-owned ad company that no longer exists, to put ads inside games like Madden NFL, Skate, NHK, and NASCAR. The games pushed ads featuring former president Barrack Obama on billboards and sports arenas.

However, with games costing so much, the idea of in-game transactions was dead on arrival as the gamers expected an ad-free experience. EA tried to include a full-screen commercial in UFC 4, but players paying $60 for the game were not pleased, and the publisher was forced to pull the ad. But for free-to-play games, the chances of players not minding ads increases, especially as Microsoft has reportedly tried to make them non-obtrusive.

Microsoft has been shoring up its gaming services with investments in game publishers. The software giant is buying Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion, and the company’s assets are believed to help strengthen its gaming infrastructure. The purchase would make Microsoft the third-largest player in the gaming industry.

Written by HackerVibes

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