You might not be thrilled with in-game advertising, but you might soon see more of it. Insider sources (sub. required) claim Microsoft is developing a program to help marketers place ads in free-to-play Xbox games. Companies could buy from an ad inventory to secure space on virtual billboards. It’s not clear if this would extend to character skins or video rolls, but Microsoft is apparently crafting a “private marketplace” to limit ads to brands that won’t disrupt gameplay.
Microsoft is reportedly still pinpointing ad technology firms that would build the catalog and cooperate on placement. The debut might not take long, though, as the program could launch by the third quarter (that is, summer).
The company declined to confirm or deny the plans. In a statement to Insider, a spokesperson said Microsoft was constantly striving to “improve the experience” for developers and players but didn’t have “anything further to share.”
The program could rankle gamers worried about ads for real-world products finding their way into fictional universes. However, the focus on free-to-play titles might prove crucial. This could help developers make money from free games without leaning too heavily on paid content like skins and season passes. That, in turn, might persuade creators to make Xbox-centric games rather than building for the PlayStation or Switch.