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

A skull-faced duelist fires balls of energy towards a Blaston player.

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 $10 game from Facebook’s ongoing ad test program.

“After listening to player feedback, we realize 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 revealed 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 $2.3 billion, apart from the simple and obvious wariness of Facebook as an overarching entity in public life.

Last August the tech juggernaut announced that Facebook accounts would be necessary to use the Oculus headsets come January 1, 2023. Shortly after, Oculus VR users discovered 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.