If you're the kind of gamer who buys a game console to watch advertisements after putting down some money to become an Xbox Live Gold subscriber, there's good news for you: You'll get plenty of advertisements on the Xbox One's dashboard and much more streamlined advertisements geared toward getting you to click them even when you don't want to.
Stick Twiddler's Ben Cordell had an opportunity to go eyes-on with the Xbox One's dashboard at a recent press event, where Microsoft press representatives walked him through the ins and outs of using the Xbox One, explaining the benefits and honest disadvantages of Kinect, and how the dashboard ads have been revamped to get people more inclined to click on the ads, with the Senior Digital Art Director/UX Designer saying...
“On Xbox, the ad is part of the actual experience, it’s not something that is outside. The only difference is that the advertisement we have is quite small and not disruptive so people are not aware of clicking on the banners because they know this is a part of the whole experience on the dash,”... “So the users know that this is something that when they click on it, they won’t be hit by something crazy or something dangerous like on the web. Everything that lands there, we create.”
Oh, the ad is part of the actual experience now, is it? I didn't know I bought game consoles to be advertised to while I'm playing. Good to know that's money well spent... paying to be advertised to.
At Microsoft, apparently it's an important objective to get these ads out there and the click-through rates up as high as possible. In fact, that's one of their goals using the new Windows 8 OS core for navigation and aesthetics, which would give users an easier time to blend their click-throughs of music, movies and games with recommended ads. I kid you not.
According to Cordell...
The Xbox team are utilising something called ‘native advertising’ which is when the adverts are built into the actual content, as opposed to tacked on at the side or above. Statistics have shown that this sort of advertising achieves 52% more clicks than traditional advertising and combats ‘ad blindness’ – a situation where you automatically ignore advertising space on websites.
Now what we have here with the “native advertising” sounds a lot like a less intrusive version of Square Enix's Core Online service, which seems to be the natural progression of ad-based commercialism in video games.
I wonder how many gamers will continue to suck it up and deal with a dashboard that offers them lesser space for video games and a push toward more media hub features?
I find it interesting that there's a lot of comparisons made between the Xbox One and Steam, but by and large they couldn't be further apart in terms of... well, everything. The only ads on Steam's main dashboard are for other games, deals, discounts and bundles for games, games and more games. Steam is also free-to-use and you can play games via the Steam-client without spending a cent if all you do is play free-to-play titles. Developers also aren't charged fees to update and patch their games, although according to some reports it appears Microsoft may have finally taken steps to remove the financial barrier for developers to patch their games, which is good.
My only question would be: is there an option to have no ads at all for XBL Gold members and customize the dashboard on the Xbox One to only show what users want?