VR Players Revolt Against Facebook’s In-Game Advertising Plans

VR Players Revolt Against Facebook’s In-Game Advertising Plans
Screenshot: Resolution Games

Facebook recently ruffled the virtual reality community’s feathers when it announced plans to test a new type of in-game advertising in popular Oculus Quest game Blaston. But the blowback’s been harsh enough that developer Resolution Games has announced that it is pulling the $13 game from Facebook’s ongoing ad test program.

“After listening to player feedback, we realise that Blaston isn’t the best fit for this type of advertising test,” Resolution Games explained on Twitter. “Therefore, we no longer plan to implement the test.”

Last week, Facebook explained that these new virtual reality ads would be displayed in-headset starting with Blaston, a head-to-head dueling game released in 2020. Player response to this announcement was severe, and saw the game inundated with negative reviews on both the Oculus store and Steam.

Many users took issue with the fact that Resolution Games would be serving ads to players who had already purchased Blaston, as contending with in-game ads is traditionally reserved for free-to-play games.

“Remove the ads or give us our money back,” one Oculus reviewer demanded.

“[A] spectacularly bad move,” wrote another.

Blaston is getting uninstalled forever and I’m not gonna buy a single game from this company from now on,” a third raved.

Since Resolution Games publicly walked back its opting into the Facebook ad test, several of the retaliatory one-star complaints have been changed to five-star reviews. Blaston is currently holding at a 4.5-star rating on the Oculus store and a “Very Positive” on Steam, though recent reviews still remain “Mixed” on the latter due to the lingering drama.

Facebook’s handling of Oculus has been a constant source of controversy after it acquired the brand in 2014 for $US2.3 ($3) billion, apart from the simple and obvious wariness of Facebook as an overarching entity in public life.

The tech juggernaut recently announced that Facebook accounts would be necessary to use the Oculus headsets come January 1, 2023, and shortly after, it was uncovered that deleting a Facebook account will also delete the Oculus account to which it’s linked, removing the user’s access to purchased games and achievements.

As for Resolution Games, the studio is looking at ways to shift the in-headset Oculus ad testing to Bait!, a free-to-play fishing game it released in 2019. While ads are always a nuisance (and sometimes too invasive when it comes to the data they collect on us), that move likely won’t attract the same sort of controversy.

Comments

  • All this is so frustrating to me. I love my oculus, for me standalone vr is the way to go. So much better than needing a dedicated room with enough space to set up cameras etc. I can just use it pretty much anywhere.

    I was concerned re Facebook overlords but I guess foolishly thought they wouldn’t put ads in games. I can manage an ad maybe on the home environment as I don’t spend any time there other then launching games.

    Really makes me not want to buy any new games for it. But what’s the alternative? Spend a shit load of money on a pcvr set up to play Alyx again on a better screen?

    • The alternative is to use Virtual Desktop (although I think I read they’ve added similar functionality to a recent Oculus update) and stream games from your PC to your headset. This is what I do, games are massively overpriced on the Oculus store anyway, particularly when compared to sales on PC, so get games on Steam cheaper and then stream them. It works really well, all you lose is the ability to take your games with you if you take your headset elsewhere.

    • Just curious, how did you manage to play Alyx without a PC?
      I BUILT a PC specifically so I could play Alyx…

  • Ads in free-to-play games… Sure, whatever.

    But ads in games you have to pay for first? Fuck right off.

  • Interestingly, before they announced the ads I was thinking about buying a Quest 2 with my tax money this year, despite my feelings of utter contempt for facebook … *was*.

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