It’s finally happening, Facebook has announced its now testing in-headset virtual reality (VR) ads, a feature everyone knew was coming but not necessarily looking forward to. When it revealed the v29 update in May, ad testing was part of the Oculus App as a way to make discovering new content easier. The in-headset ads feature is a different beast, designed,in part, to help developers generate revenue.
Unlike ads you might see online or whilst playing a mobile videogame Facebook is working on unobtrusive ads – often called “in-play ads” – that don’t suddenly pop up and ruin your gameplay experience. Instead – just the the above gif indicates – these adverts are naturally installed into the scenery just like you’d see at a football match or F1 race. Developers can then include these ads into their products, which in turn generate additional revenue.
“This is a key part of ensuring we’re creating a self-sustaining platform that can support a variety of business models that unlock new types of content and audiences,” states an Oculus Blog post.
The testing is still early at the moment with Resolution Games’ shooter Blaston being the first. Further titles will be added in the near future as Facebook gathers feedback from studios and the community alike. The ads won’t be out of your control either, as Facebook says you’ll be able to manage what is shown to you. “We’re including controls to hide specific ads or hide ads from an advertiser completely. Users can also access more detailed Ad Preferences from any ad via our “Why am I seeing this ad?” interface.”
In-play ads are nothing new as companies like Admix have been leveraging this type of advertising for several years now, mainly in the mobile gaming space. It’s popular with mobile developers as the market is dominated by free-to-play titles so finding additional way to generate revenue is a bonus, especially for indie devs. VR is slightly different due to most apps requiring an upfront payment but the market is much smaller than mobile so there could be some way to go before ads in VR generate significant funding streams.
That’ll only happen when VR goes truly mainstream which Facebook and Oculus Quest 2 is pushing towards. For further updates on this features continued rollout, keep reading VRFocus.
(Disclosure: Admix is the parent company of VRFocus)