Facebook has a sort of reverse Midas’ touch where everything it touches gets stained by its own stigmas. Every product it buys or gets close to eventually gets involved in its privacy issues or, at the very least, its advertising businesses. It was the latter surprised, shocked, and even disgusted Oculus users last week when the social networking giant announced the start of its advertising tests on the VR platform. Users expressed their opposition so strongly that Blaston, the first and so far only game to test this system, has quickly pulled out from the program.
It was actually not that surprising and it was only a matter of time before Facebook started pushing its advertising platform on Oculus. The social network was, after all, slowly but surely slapping on its branding on everything it owns, including the Oculus VR platform and hardware. Facebook positions ads as a necessary evil to monetize VR experiences and make VR a more self-sustaining industry, but that doesn’t mean users just have to take things sitting down.
The opposition of ads on Blaston isn’t just a matter of being anti-ads, though there’s definitely that aspect to it. Instead, most of the complaints and criticism revolves around developer Resolution Games agreeing to test ads in a game that gamers already paid for. Even in the advertising world, it is considered bad taste to serve ads in paid games, leaving the monetization systems to thrive in free or freemium titles only.
Relenting to mounting criticism and the all too real danger of review bombing, Resolution Games resolved to exclude ads from Blaston. That said, it doesn’t mean that the company is turning its back on VR ads altogether, just that this particular test wasn’t a good fit for this particular game. Instead, the developers might test those ads in its free Bait! VR game in the future.
Facebook’s plans to monetize Oculus VR experiences may have hit a small snag but it will hardly put a stop to it. Blaston was the only one named during last week’s announcement but there are most likely others ready to take its place. At least now those will know how not to put ads in paid titles, at least for now.