Have you ever been playing your favorite video game and thought, “Yeah, this is fun and all, but I wish it had some TV-style commercials trying to sell me crap”? It’s pretty unlikely, but one company simply doesn’t care about how you feel and is set to make this nightmare scenario a reality.
Axios reports that an advertising platform called playerWON, owned and operated by TV ad tech company Simulmedia, has been testing console game ads for over a year—they’re also coming to PC. The tests have been successful, according to the firm, and it has now signed deals with Electronic Arts and Tencent’s Hi-Rez Studios to put them in more games. Yay!
The ads try to offer some incentives for viewers. Players get to determine whether they want to watch a 15-second or 30-second commercial in exchange for an in-game reward, such as skins and avatars. Presumably, the longer ads come with better benefits.
The feature is being justified by the fact that most 18-34-year-olds are cord-cutters unreachable through traditional methods of advertising such as TV commercials. Moreover, in-game ads are reportedly cheaper and more efficient than brand integrations like those in NBA 2K.
Simulmedia claims its research shows players are willing to watch up to ten ads per day for some freebies. It also said that during the pilot campaign with F2P MOBA Smite, “players were much more likely (22%) to play a game and spend money within the game (11%), if they watched in-game ads that gave them access to more gaming perks.”
It appears these ads will be limited to free-to-play games that rely on in-game purchases to make money. Given what happened with the Oculus Quest ads in Blaston and the NBA 2K21 outrage, one would assume studios won’t add commercials to their paid-for games. But nothing’s certain in big business.
“The acceleration of Free-to-play (F2P) games across Console and PC, like Fortnite, Apex Legends, Call of Duty Warzone and Roblox, means that audiences and play time have seen explosive growth, yet the vast majority of players, over 90%, never spend money F2P games,” Simulmedia’s EVP, Gaming and OTT, Dave Madden, told Axios.
Even if the ads are limited to free console and PC titles, this is definitely going to anger the majority of gamers. Nevertheless, Simulmedia plans to launch in-game ads in roughly a dozen more titles by the year’s end.