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ASA bans EA's "misleading" Dungeon Keeper email ad in UK

by Mark Tyson on 3 July 2014, 13:00

Tags: Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA), PC

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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the UK's independent regulator of the advertising industry, has announced its decision to ban an Electronic Arts Dungeon Keeper free mobile game advert, as it was deemed to be "misleading."

A promotional direct e-mail advertising campaign was put under scrutiny when a complainant accused EA of not clarifying that gameplay would be "severely limited" if no in-app purchases were made. The complaint came from a user who "challenged whether the ad was misleading because it omitted significant information," explained the ASA in its ruling.

"…the nature of the timer frequency and length in Dungeon Keeper, in combination with the way it was monetised, was likely to create a game experience for non-spenders that did not reflect their reasonable expectations from the content of the ad. Because the game had the potential to restrict gameplay beyond that which would be expected by consumers and the ad did not make this aspect of the role of in-app purchasing clear, we concluded that it was misleading," wrote the ASA.

EA's argument against the complaint suggested that players could progress for free as they find mechanics to do so, on a par with similar games, during game play and that "the timers and premium currency did not only function as a monetisation strategy, but balanced gameplay and provided players with a sense of progression and enabled resource management." The gaming company went on to state that a timing mechanism would still be present - even if there was no monetisation in the game.

However, EA's points were dismissed and the ASA announced that the "ad must not appear again in its current form." Going forward, "We told Electronic Arts Ltd to ensure that future ads made clear the limitations of free gameplay and role of in-app purchasing with regard to speeding up gameplay," the ASA added.

EA CEO Andrew Wilson also admitted at last month's E3 that the company had "misjudged" the game's economy. Calling Dungeon Keeper "a shame," Wilson promised that EA will learn from the feedback given.

HEXUS Forums :: 25 Comments

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About time. Sure you could play it at glacial speeds but who would. I'd rather pay once (which I have done several times in play store/amazon app store) than put up with this sort of behaviour. It doesn't help its never a one off payment to make the game work. These sort of games need an almost constant flow of £s just to make it anywhere.
It's sad that most mobile games are going down this route.
This is main reason why i stick to basic puzzle games like 2048 as there in nothing to spend on.
I would much rather pay £5 for a mobile game that works (at a reasonable rate) and doesn't require a constant connection just to stream ads to your screen.
It seems that games industry has only one thing on their mind “MONEY”.
Although i understand that there are costs to develop and maintain a game, there is no reason to use every game as a cash cow.
Same thing happened to FIFA 14, i still have FIFA 13 on my iPhone as 14 has gone to pay to play strategy as well.
What's wrong with a good game of Sudoku or 2048? Save the real gaming for a dedicated machine that won't commit rape on your wallet.
EA's whole principle when it comes to their ‘free to play’ games is dodgy, not just the adverts.

I play need for speed world and they have no confirmation about if you would like to spend ‘boost’ (the pay real money currency) and they've specifically placed buttons so you hit them by ‘mistake’… yeah right.

And don't get me started on their idea of ‘micro transactions’… one car can cost as much as one whole GAME….
I have fond memories of playing the original dungeon keeper on the PC as a kid, it's probably my favourite game of all time.

The fact it's now a cash grab phone game saddens me…

Someone needs to slap a horned reaper a few times and drop it in EA's office.