Microsoft is Reportedly Planning on Putting Ads Inside Free-to-Play Xbox Games

Microsoft is one of the biggest companies in the world, second to only Apple in terms of market capitalization. Their success story is one for the books and many would argue that Xbox has been a key pillar in their expansion. Microsoft has bolstered Xbox to new heights in recent years after a decade of turbulence that lost them the console market leadership. Now, Xbox is looking stronger than ever. 

Microsoft has taken creative routes to increase Xbox’s prevalence in the mainstream today. Ventures like the Game Pass and xCloud, and a more “games as a service” approach to the brand are all very well-indicative of this. And it seems like Microsoft is about to dabble in, let’s just say, interesting territory once again. According to a new report from Business Insider, your Xbox games are about to get ads.

In-game ads done right?

Business Insider says that Microsoft is experimenting with new ways of incorporating adverts into popular Xbox games. These ads will only be shown in free-to-play games and Microsoft will only allow a select few companies to actually advertise as they don’t want to “irritate” its customers. Moreover, these ads won’t be disruptive so they won’t appear in gameplay and ruin your experience.

Phil Spencer, Xbox chief and Microsoft’s executive vice president of gaming | Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Redford giant is trying to create a new platform where brand would be able to sell ads to display in games. As mentioned, these ads will appear outside of gameplay so it doesn’t frustrate the player away. A few examples in the article state how these ads could actually work. For instance, ads could be displayed on digitally-rendered billboards in racing games for players passing by to see. 

We’re not sure if ads could be shown while navigating menus or in digital storefronts like buying skins on Fortnite as the company is still exploring this idea. Microsoft is said to very cautious with this because they know how intrusive ads can be and they can possibly be detrimental to the entire player base. Therefore, a calm and calculated approach where the ads don’t scare away the players is needed.

That’s one of the reasons why Microsoft will only allow these ads in free-to-play games and why only certain brands that Microsoft trusts would be eligible to even show ads. Business Insider mentions that the Microsoft wants to create a “private marketplace” where these ads could be sold and bought, similar to how advertisers can buy ads on the Xbox Dashboard (and even in-game ads in some games) through external companies like Anzu and Yahoo right now.

Xbox One ad-filled dashboard | VG247

Moreover, the report says Microsoft is not intending to take a cut of the revenue from these ads. Instead, the revenue will be split between the game developer who’s game the ad is showing in and the advertiser. Microsoft is more so intrigued by the idea of creating this advertisement platform where companies can safely sell/buy ads that players won’t find disgusting, resulting in a win-win situation for all parties involved. One source speculates that this is Microsoft’s ploy to help free-to-play game developers earn more from being on Xbox.

Lastly, one very important point to note here is how Microsoft is not interested in providing search results and ad data from Bing to advertisers on this new platform in hopes of better targeting the audience. Microsoft is committed to the privacy of its players and wants to ensure a secure platform is in place for everyone. The company will actively go out of its way to put preventative measures in place to stop any advertiser from exploiting the platform.


Even though the report comes from Business Insider, a well-respected and renowned publication, it’s still a rumor nonetheless and should be taken with a grain of salt.  There is no time frame given for this platform’s arrival but one would assume it has to be in 2022. A few media outlets reached out to Microsoft for a comment and the company said the following to every single one of them:

We are always looking for ways to improve the experience for players and developers, but we don’t have anything further to share.

Whether ads are really coming to your favorite Xbox games in the near future or not remains to be seen, but we can for sure that Microsoft is no stranger to being first. With ads already populating the Xbox Dashboard, it’s not hard to believe the company would want to build upon that and expand its advertisement platform even more. If this report is indeed going to come to fruition, we should be hearing more about this platform in the coming months.

Huzaifa Haroon
Born and raised around computers, Huzaifa is an avid gamer and a keyboard enthusiast. When he's not solving the mysteries of technology, you can find him scrutinizing writers, striving to inform the curious.
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