In-game advertisement (IGA) is a pretty divisive issue; on one hand it provides needed incentive to developers who otherwise wouldn’t have the funds, on the other hand its … advertisement, something most people try to avoid on principle. Now that virtual reality is coming to a wider audience, it seems the medium is mature enough to open the conversation about funding games with ads, something HTC is letting developers enable in a big way with their newly announced VR Ad Service—and VR ads are different. Very different.

Launched today at 2017 VIVE Ecosystem Conference, a new HTC event centered on the future of the Vive platform, the VR Ad Service will make it easier for developers to integrate a number of ad styles into their games hosted on Viveport. Viveport is the company’s digital distribution platform intended for both at-home service and the ever-growing out-of-home arcade market proliferating across China.

viveportposter3

The new program offers a number of ad styles that can play on both PC and a still unnamed HTC mobile VR headset. These include loading scene banners, big screen video, and both 2D and 3D in-app placement advertisements. A full list is available on the Vive developer site.

The VR Ad Service is an opt-in program, so only developers that wish to include ads can do so, however HTC says that by opting in “all of your free apps would be automatically put on the list which can be used to integrate VR Ads.”

But because of VR’s integrated head tracking technology, gaining revenue from ads is going to be a bit different. People actually have to look at the ads.

“Ads that appear in immersive VR environments can not only provide more effective impressions, they can also track whether the users have viewed them or have turned away their gaze,” writes HTC on the VR Ad Service site. “Accordingly, the multiplied effect of effective impressions and verified viewings will bring you higher advertising revenue!”

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While in-game VR ads tracking your very gaze may sound like something out of a Neal Stephenson novel, it’s really a double-sided coin. By integrating more data points into the equation, advertisers can better determine what ads are actually relevant to you, so the likelihood of you seeing ‘dumb ads’ or ones cast out to the general public, decreases. The same theory applies to in-game analytics like Aldin Dynamics’ Ghostline tool used in Waltz of the Wizard which revealed some interesting information about what users did in the space, for how long, and what they found most interesting.

“Compared to ordinary Ad impressions, Ads that are seen by users in an immersive VR environment can not only meet the user’s needs by means of precise re-targeting, but can also be detected if they are viewed effectively by users. Therefore, promotion of your applications would have much more effective impression, which not only arouses the attention of potential users and enhance brand image, but further attracts interested users directly to download your apps in the VR environment!”

Vive’s VR Ad Service was announced alongside the news that the company will be an exclusive partner for all VR content related to upcoming film Ready Player One and a new HTC-led initiative called International VR Research Institute (IVRI), which has struck partnership with Shenzhen’s local government in order to “make Shenzhen a global center for VR research, development, and applications.”

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  • bschuler

    Hopefully it can track if I rolled my eyes while looking at it too.

    • Get Schwifty!

      Lol – I thought the same thing…

    • David Herrington

      They are going to start putting ads at chest level…

  • NooYawker

    Is it possible I can just pay for my fucking hardware and software and be done with it? Sick of these fucking companies all tracking and pushing advertisement. You want to do that provide everything free.

  • wowgivemeabreak

    Very funny this is coming from the people behind the Vive given all the gushing so many sheeple do towards Valve/HTC compared to Oculus.

    • Zearoh

      uh huh. you don’t think oculus, owned by FACEBOOK isn’t doing anything of the sort!?

      • Ellie 187

        Just checked my FB wall, yup, nothing but ads…. only a fool would believe Zuckerberg will not bring this over into his VR platform….. Difference is, no vive owner has to install HTC’s app store at all… in fact I recommend against doing so, it chews up so much of your resources, everything starts to run quite a bit slower once its installed (even removing it leaves it executables launching at windows start up and constantly eating CPU time in the background)…. simple solution, do not install HTC Viveport, its a joke.. Install steamVR and be ad free, and enjoy.

        • powered

          from what I understand Steam is or at least has been blocked in the past in China. Viveport is absolutely necessary in certain regions.

          • If steam is blocked you are screwed with a Vive. Viveport can’t run your Vive. The device REQUIRES SteamVR and that is exclusively available on steam. Okay I am sure there are some open source programs out there that can simulate SteamVR but even then Viveport is still not required.

    • Me

      Yep. As a Vive user who ranted all along about FB’s pratices, I find it hard to stomach. That VR industry is really going sideways.

    • Rogue Transfer

      Except this isn’t Valve. Valve’s stated aim is for hardware & store independence.

      HTC’s Viveport is not needed and is not Valve’s Steam and neither are required to remain to run the HTC Vive. It can be used independently with OpenVR.

      Oculus requires Oculus Home running in the background. It is locked to requiring it, there’s no escaping their underlying ecosystem running.

      HTC is just one of many licensees for SteamVR hardware. LG being the second. Each company producing compatible hardware can do what they like with their store software and consumers can choose to avoid it(and adverts).

      Independent partners do things differently.

      • powered

        So.. your option to not purchase the product is Valve’s new feature? Doesn’t sound like sheeple to me.

        • Ellie 187

          What is so hard to understand about this concept/partnership.

          SteamVR/Valve has NOTHING to do with Viveport…. Viveport is HTC’s app store, and there really is nothing different about the content from what is on steam, at least anything meaningful.

          HTC, the ones who make the physical hardware called the Vive has their own separate app store that is in no way shape or form have anything to do with Valve.. Valve provides their store called STEAM, and has done so for many years. No ads are on Valve’s store, STEAM.

          Viveport from HTC is not even required to be installed to use their hardware, the Vive. The vive can be run independently with just installing STEAMVR/OpenVR

          what is with all the trolling from Oculus users ?? Its like your butt hurt the room scale tracking is still lacking on Oculus. Or maybe its because Zuckerberg is beginning his push to move developers into turning Oculus into a VR Social media hub as it will slowly inch away from being a gaming platform.

          As an owner of both systems, I never seen so much trolling from Oculus owners, its embarrassing.

          • powered

            So switch valve to HTC in my last comment. Most vive users ride on their cloud of smug from the presumed consumer friendly stance of both companies. You are spinning the argument pretty sheepishly. Many regions are forced to use viveport.

          • No single region is “forced” to use Vive port. You need steam VR (an app in steam) and a VR game. That is literally it. Nothing more nothing less.

        • Rogue Transfer

          As I said, the product(Vive) doesn’t require Viveport installed to work. It runs fine with just SteamVR installed from Steam. Viveport is just a separate store.

    • davidemo89

      No vive user is using viveport…

      • cartweet

        Yup, all those vive users on the viveport communties are just bots. Not to mention all those asian countries that use viveport as it’s main hub don’t exist either. They’re all ghosts.

        • Ellie 187

          because computer illiterates use viveport, the vast majority of vive owners are on steam only.

          • cartweet

            Despite gamers probably using steam more viveport (which is mostly for everything but games) users are not inconsequential and HTC is building out the platform especially in asia where it will be doing the most business. They’re expanding this for arcade ventures, adding a subscription model in the spring, exclusive content (see spielberg’s ready player one htc)…etc This is a big part of HTC’s plan and one they need to work in order to be competitive. Selling hardware alone in a niche market won’t keep them afloat for long.

          • I used Viveport for all of 5 minutes. :P

    • alboradasa

      There’s nothing to imply that users will be ‘forced’ to look at adverts, thats just an assumption being made by the media. In reality it will be more a case of sending data about how effective a certain advert is by whether/how long a user looks at it. Not sure why that’d be so bad. Advertising in VR is going to be pretty un-escapable anyway, with or without eye-tracking.

  • Mario-Galouzeau de Bocsa

    Change the title of that article for Oculus, you’ll get 40 hate comments within 2 hours. But it’s HTC we are talking about here. Is it ok then ? I’m not sure. Let’s just move on.

    • Justos

      Willful ignorance. People like to hate on facebook/oculus more than they actually dislike their practices.

    • Nairobi

      You are yelling at a brick wall Mario.

  • Ian Shook

    I don’t like the implication that they can track where I look, especially when it comes to characters in a game. There should be a way to opt out of it, or really, to opt into it and have it be off by default.
    VR is a small market right now. When it expands to the every-day (likely AR) and they’re still doing gaze detection and recording, how long until we get notifications to our Facebox account that XYZ person gazed at your butt today!

    • Bailey Bridge

      Why would that be an issue? Don’t be a perv and there won’t be a problem.

      • Ian Shook

        It sets a precident for surveillance. There are too many reasons to list why constant surveillance will be a problem for everybody. The issue isn’t just “well don’t commit crimes lol”. Computers see “person looking at butt” while in reality it’s “those are great jeans, what kind are they?” Or “look at that phone, is that the 6+?” Or “she sat in gum, should I tell her”. I don’t want to live in ‘1984’. You go ahead though.

        • Bailey Bridge

          I can see a world beyond dystopian literature. Either way you analogy is flawed in the fact that by the time we would ever implement notifications for being a perv, we would also offer metrics such as a heatmap of vision-focus, as well as the frequency and duration of which you were looking at their ass.

          People often talk about Orwell or Kafka’s concepts of dystopian realities and how they are totally against it, but think about. A terrorist blows up a school, killing not only your kids but 100s of other kids. If tighter surveillance would have meant he was unable to carry out the attack/was caught before hand, would you not want it to happen? Or is your privacy more important than other peoples live?

          (Obviously this is a dramatic analogy, but the concept of people always talking about privacy is confusing to me. Like why are you so important? and plus if you are a person with any integrity you wouldn’t have anything to hide for the most part.)

          Also just on a tech point, Foveated imaging is 100% necessary to true VR, not only for immersion and realism sake but also to allow our hardware to run things that actually look good.

          • Ian Shook

            Here’s to hoping that the technology advances enough to know better! And regarding the example you gave about the school shooting, you’re not wrong. It’s definitely a weird moral balancing zone. How do we know that people aren’t going to just walk around with bombs under their clothes, maybe everybody should be naked. I hope the technology that keeps us save also maintains privacy and dignity.

          • Bailey Bridge

            We can only hope. And heck the less clothes the better. Maybe then we wouldn’t need eye-tracking to let someone know you’re looking at their butt.

          • Nix Pix

            “is your privacy more important than other peoples live?”

            Yes.

          • Bailey Bridge

            No it isn’t. Faggot.

          • Nix Pix

            Well not mine specifically, but privacy in general is worth the price of one or two schools.

          • Bailey Bridge

            Why? Of what value is your privacy? Nothing is more valuable the human life, so what is so special about you that puts your privacy above that?

            I know you said not specifically yours but you are obviously fighting the corner of privacy so you believe it is important, so I am asking you why? Surely if you have integrity as a person, you wouldn’t need to keep secrets? Like what is it about nothing to hide nothing to fear that is actually off the mark?

            Also just out of curiosity are you opposed to (or were you opposed to post 9/11 when it was a big talking point) the heightening of Airport security? If you go back and look at web forums et cetera, you see a lot of people spewing Orwell quotes and stuff and how it’s invasion of privacy and destroying our rights. But, in the current given political climate (practically globally) would you agree that anyone should be able to get on a plane just because it is their right? Or is it the right of every passenger on that plane to be able to fly from one place to another without fear of being blow up?

            I’m not tryna argue over the ethical/political side of it, as I live in England, a nation under surveillance who just passed legislation to allow the government to get our internet history from our ISPs et cetera. But just think of it in perspective. The main thing I see people complain about it targeted marketing via facebook and google. Where is the issue for this? Given it is not 100% accurate at the minute, but I rarely see adverts for say make-up or cycling gear, because they aren’t things I use or am interested in using. Imagine that level of bespoke networks in everyday life and things become much more interesting. An app that records your journey everyday, and can pay you on the bus without you worrying about it. Also via facebook messenger, when ever you mention a date, it prompts you to set a reminder. Imagine this more advanced so it knows when you have confirmed and are actually planning to do something, and then it simply doesnt prompt you at all, and using your gps to be able to tell if you are on your way, and prompt you if not et cetera et cetera. Theres alot more uses but this is starting to look like an essay.

          • Nix Pix

            “Nothing is more valuable the human life”

            Then do you think we should outlaw cars, alcohol and cigarettes, who cause hundreds of thousands of deaths every year?

            “Surely if you have integrity as a person, you wouldn’t need to keep secrets?

            I do have secrets, so does pretty much everyone. It could range from medical conditions to sexual preferences to having unpopular taste in music. I don’t think this prevents anyone from having integrity.

            “Also just out of curiosity are you opposed to (or were you opposed to
            post 9/11 when it was a big talking point) the heightening of Airport
            security?”

            Yes, very much so, it was absolutely idiotic. Did you know that because of the change in focus on terrorism at the expense of other types of contraband (such as food), various new germs and fungi were introduced to the US causing *irreparable* damage to their agriculture.

            Oh but I sure they saved one or two planes, that’s all that matters.

            “But, in the current given political climate (practically globally) would
            you agree that anyone should be able to get on a plane just because it
            is their right? Or is it the right of every passenger on that plane to
            be able to fly from one place to another without fear of being blow up?”

            Neither of those two is a right. Safety is not a right, everything in life carries risk.

            “The main thing I see people complain about it targeted marketing via facebook and google. Where is the issue for this?”

            Most people simply hate ads (I know I do). The idea of your personal information being collected so that advertisement agencies can better manipulate you is unpleasant. At least national security is a somewhat worthwhile cause.

            “An app that records your journey everyday, and can pay you on the bus
            without you worrying about it. Also via facebook messenger, when ever
            you mention a date, it prompts you to set a reminder.”

            What if it just gets it wrong? Will my phone pay for a bus trip I’m not gonna take? What if I don’t need a “reminder” to remember a date?

          • Bailey Bridge

            I can assure you airport security has prevented alot more than one or two attempts at terrorism as well as drug smuggling. Like I said, We have different views on the world, and it isn’t on me to try and change who you are. Also I don’t believe cars et cetera are bad, as they improve our quality of life, as well as our efficiency overall. This is the exact same reason I dont really care about privacy, as I believe it could make alot of process much more efficient if your information was recorded in an IoT MAN network. But then again, why would you not agree with Tesla and other companies trying to take poison out of the air? I love cars. I dont love exhaust fumes.

            Also to say people on a plane should not be able to feel secure that they are not going to get blown is ridiculous. I don’t know you personally and obviously Im not judging you off of what you say online but, I genuinely believe at least 90% would not be of the same opinion regarding privacy et cetera, if it was their love ones being blown up due to lax security measures.

          • Nix Pix

            “at least 90% would not be of the same opinion regarding privacy et
            cetera, if it was their love ones being blown up due to lax security
            measures.”

            Yes, and people whose loved ones die of cancer want more money in cancer research, when loved ones get shot they want to crack down on crime or guns, when they drink themselves to death they want alcohol bans.

            That’s why we should leave these decisions to people that are impartial.

    • Ellie 187

      When facebook is forced into my Rift is the day I will put it down for good and use my vive exclusively (I already do use the vive exclusively, the rift is for sit down VR, Vive just has the amazing room scale tracking that is seriously lacking on my Rift)

  • OgreTactics

    VR corporations: already scrapping the crust money of your eyes movements. Better raping your privacy even before the market picks-up for a few money-hungry scum to get their +value return….

  • This is exactly what VR needs to get off the ground, immersion breaking ads to take me out of the experience and eat my bandwidth.

    • Bailey Bridge

      Space Pirate Trainer is one of the Vive games that often gets most praise, and is also the only one I’ve seen so far to contain ads. If ads are done well, through billboards, TV, and newspapers in game, then there is no issue.

      • Stuff in the background is fine, as long as it’s part of the experience and stylized. I don’t want to see bright cheerful Sprite ads in the dark gritty future. But if you take the current mobile ad scheme into VR, every so often the entire screen will be covered with 360 videos/photos and that will break the experience.

        • Ellie 187

          Then don’t use the bloatware app store called Viveport.. Problem solved.

          Valve hasn’t done ads in all the years they had their steam app store released, I don’t think they will ever go that route. Viveport on the other hand is a bloated mess that chews up free resources like candy, not recommended at all to install that pile of **** app store, Viveport.

  • Nathanael Mooth

    Can’t foresee any shady games abusing this mechanic…

    • Ellie 187

      Doesn’t matter anyways, the user population on viveport is close to non-existent compared to Vive owners who just use steam instead…. this article is a nothing burger.

  • Nairobi

    Here’s how it’s gonna roll out: Since VR right now is for early adopters, the community is largely composed of true tech enthusiasts. This places the community, statistically speaking, more in favor of anti-advertisement. Which will allow the dominant hub of the ecosystem to remain ad-free. Once Facebook or some other conglomerate nails down cheap wide-audience consumer friendly VR, the tides will slowly shift to Google Play app store advertisement. So enjoy it while you can.

    • Ellie 187

      So what you are saying is Steam will remain the dominant hub, and Oculus home and Viveport will become a non-entity??

      That’s actually the situation as it stands today, at least in regards to Viveport…. But with Zuckerberg pushing his VR company hard into doing social media, it won’t be long before Rift users revolt and refuse it.

  • Ads shouldn’t be displayed, interstitial formatted (if that’s what HTC is planning?). That would be the point (imo) people would rip the HMDs off their faces and delete the offending VR experience/app.

    Using gaze analytics, with prior consent should work when the brand/ad ‘lives’ in the VR world.
    ‘Invisible’ – the VR episodic serial did this rather well with Lexus (they didn’t do tracking as far as I know). No one knows Lexus sponsors until the end credit roll. Lexus also got to ‘extract’ a separate highlight-the-car-in-VR commercial from the films scenes, getting a 2-for-1 deal. More ideas are out there that won’t make VR the next idiot box.
    Hopefully devs understand this.

  • Claus Sølvsten

    ohh no..

  • Paweł Chachaj

    I’m curious how those adds would look like in VR.
    It would be interesting to have a billboard like IRL with new content after some time, or graffiti on walls or other ways that could make me want to look at it.
    As long as it is not something intrusive, that would make it annoying, like the loading screen, since noone like to be forced to watch them :/
    I’m looking forward for some interesting solutions.

  • OkinKun

    Take THAT facebook/oculus haters.. HTC wants to violate your privacy TOO!
    From the start, this was an absurd thing for Oculus-haters to feel morally superior over to begin with, all these companies ALWAYS do this sorta thing!

    • Bailey Bridge

      To be fair most complaints I heard were of the Oculus home app monitoring your Internet usage, rather than issue with advertising. I don’t care either way, but I think that was the bigger issue of the two.

  • Oskar

    RIP HTC Vibe

    • Ellie 187

      Uhh why? How many vive owners actually install that bloatware app store called ‘viveport’ ??? I’ve been using my Vive with only steam installed for almost a year now… The app store Viveport is a side show freak that isn’t required to be installed to use the device.

  • Omno

    Getting closer every day to Black Mirror style futurism ala Fifteen Million Merits.

  • Icebeat

    Why they always want to put AD in video games? It is stupid, people don’t want Ads.