PlayStation and Xbox are adding ads to games, rumours say

Gamers play on a Playstation 4 during EGX 2016 at the NEC in Birmingham (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Archive)
Gamers play on a Playstation 4 during EGX 2016 at the NEC in Birmingham (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Archive)

Both PlayStation and Xbox are working on ads within games, according to new rumours.

The development would allow the companies to make games available for free, with the cost being supported through marketing, reports suggest.

PlayStation would put real-life ads on virtual billboards within games, for instance, according to a new report from Advertising Insider. Players could also be rewarded for engaging with ads by being given free virtual items.

Xbox was last week said to be working on a similar programme, with the same aim of giving out free games.

Both companies are said to be launching the products by the end of the year.

The development would allow console games to function more like mobile games, where free-to-play and ad-supported games are rife.

But it would also likely to lead to the same questions that have dogged those games, such as concerns about the nature of ads, potential scams, and the kind of the tracking of players that advertisers are allowed to do.

Such tracking has caused fallouts between advertising companies and tech platforms before. When Apple added new privacy protections in a recent iOS update, for instance, it was attacked by Facebook, which said it was punishing advertisers by stopping them gathering data on users.

Some console games have already experimented with actual advertising. EA added marketing videos into UFC 4, before being forced to remove them because of criticism from fans, and NBA 2K21 has ads in its loading screens.

Microsoft is said not to be planning to take any of the revenue from the advertising, with the funds being split between developers and ad companies. Sony is yet to decide how the revenue will be split, the new report claims.