If you thought Facebook, the famous ad company, would treat its VR arm as a simple software and hardware business, you’ll have been sorely disappointed this week.
Yep, ads are coming to Oculus Quest apps. Starting with three initial titles, they will show up in three games at first. Ads will integrated into the games at hopefully relevant points (imagine billboards in a city scene in a game, displaying personalised ads). The Verge reports:
Users can click an ad and either open it or save the link for later. The former option will launch a landing page in the Oculus Quest’s web browser, and the latter will save the ad in the Quest in-VR experience and Oculus mobile app’s Explore sections. Developers will get a share of the revenue from ads in their apps, but Facebook isn’t publicly revealing the percentage.
Facebook is keen to point out that you can block specific ads and advertisers, and it’s not using all the data it could to target the ads. (raw images from headset cameras, your height and weight and the like are kept private).
Facebook’s Andrew ‘Boz’ Bosworth said on Twitter this week
: “Ads in VR will be different from ads elsewhere and this is a space that will take time and people’s feedback to get right”
In truth, that’s unlikely to be the case. It’s true that Oculus leads the VR market right now, and there’s not a lot of competition. But Sony is still in the VR game with news this week pointing to a new PlayStation VR headset
coming late next year. And if there’s a sniff of VR becoming a mainstream hit that every home needs to have, it’s mature enough technology that plenty of companies will be able to come to market with Oculus rivals relatively quickly.
As good as Oculus might be, it can’t buy up every single developer, and some of the best must-play franchises belong to the likes of Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo who will be very unlikely to want Facebook to become a games industry giant without a real fight.