May 23, 2022

ASA has banned those annoying Facebook Ads

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has banned two ads for Playrix’s casual mobile sleeper hits, Homescapes and Gardenscapes.

You know the ones. You have to move a pin to save someone or find treasure etc, even though they do not match the ACTUAL gameplay.

If you’re not sure what the ads look like, here’s a reminder:

I can feel the rage building just looking at them

Anyway, the ASA has decided that the ads are misleading (No shit sherlock) and have banned them outright. You can read the full complaint here.

Playrix’s Response

Playrix has counter-argued saying that the puzzles are in fact in the game, it’s just that players never reach them.

In their defence, Playrix stated that 0.03% of players actual reach these types of levels, with many players giving up after level 20. They also say that the pin puzzles do appear after level 20.

Both games have upwards of 4000 levels of simple match 3 gameplay. At the time of the complaints, there were only 10 of these pin mini-games.

Playrix states that they chose to include these in the adverts because:

It believed this would convey both the variety beyond match-three gameplay included in its titles and the need for logic and puzzle-solving to progress through the games.

Playrix also stated that the ads do include a ‘not all images represent actual gameplay” warning and that the screenshots in App stores would convey the actual gameplay of the games.

The Outcome

Nevertheless, the ASA has banned both adverts, as they agree with consumers that the ads are in fact misleading players, stating that:

Users would play a significant amount of content which was of a different style in order to access the gameplay featured in the ads. We considered that the time limits placed on Facebook ads were of a sufficient length that the advertiser was able to feature content that was reflective of the overall games. Because the ads were not representative of the games they were purported to feature, we concluded that they were misleading.

The ASA has warned Playrix that their adverts must correspond to the actual gameplay of their games in the future.

What happens next?

Use of ‘artistic license’ in adverts, where the in-game graphics can’t match up to say the cover art of the game has been going on in the gaming world since the ’90s, with some developers making better quality short films that in no way shape or form represent the actual gameplay.

But with more powerful devices capable of showing players what their games are actually like, its time for developers to drop this practise once and for all.

Thankfully we will never have to see these adverts again… unless you have an AdBlocker then you’ve never seen them anyway.

This will send a strong message to other gaming companies that the ASA is watching and players shouldn’t keep being misled.

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