There is a lot of current experimentation when it comes to video game revenue models. Publishers and developers are adding disc-locked content, day-one downloadable content (DLC), and overpriced collector’s editions everywhere you look. Mobile games and MMO‘s alike are free-to-play, using micro-transactions to monetize.
It should surprise no one, then, that Sony has filed a patent for commercial advertisements in the middle of video games. The patent, titled “Advertisement Scheme for Use With Interactive Content,” describes how Sony intends to use the ads. While playing, a user would experience the game slowing down and a warning would appear announcing that the game is about to stop. Flashing lights in the corner of the screen and specific sounds would also herald the coming of the advertisement. The commercial would play, and then gameplay would resume, the game slightly rewound for convenience.
I honestly can’t think of a coordinated series of events that could make me hate a product more. Rewinding slightly doesn’t fix the problem of broken immersion. The whole idea seems like something more suited to Zynga or more casual, free-to-play games.
Sony filed for the patent almost a year ago and it hasn’t been granted just yet – but it most likely will be. Whether or not Sony uses it is another question. Gamers have already proven they will roll-over for other questionable revenue schemes. My guess is that if in-game commercials actually make money, they will become a part of gaming reality.