PlayStation is reportedly exploring ways to use in-game advertisements to monetize and support free-to-play titles.
That's according to a report from Business Insider (paywalled, cited by IGN), which recently reported on similar plans said to be in the works at Xbox. It's now reporting that Sony and PlayStation are also testing ways to fit advertisements for real products into game worlds through fixtures such as billboards.
Sony's plans are also said to include rewards for players who watch advertisements, which more closely mirrors the way many free-to-play games and apps are currently monetized on mobile platforms. Watching ads or completing surveys will often award in-game currency or unlock additional content. For eligible games under its program, Sony is reportedly looking at cosmetics unlocked through ad time.
Sony's advertisement program is said to be launching by the end of the year with the goal of bringing more free-to-play games and developers to PlayStation. It's currently unclear what cut, if any, Sony itself would take from the program. For reference, Business Insider claims Xbox's in-game ads would split revenue between the developers and ad companies involved.
In addition to attracting more developers, Sony is actively looking to add studios to its personal stable. After buying Destiny developer Bungie, Demon's Souls Remake studio Bluepoint Games, Returnal dev Housemarque, and Jade Raymond's Haven Studios, SIE president Jim Ryan says more acquisitions are still planned.
Sony recently invested $1 billion in Fortnite dev Epic Games, which has not-so-quietly turned its popular battle royale shooter into a walking ad placement in the past few years through high-profile concerts and crossovers.