Who:The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and AppQuantum Publishing Ltd (AppQuantum)
Where: United Kingdom
When: 13 April 2022
Law stated as at: 1 June 2022
A paid-for ad for the mobile game “Gold and Goblins” (developed by AppQuantum) appeared on Twitter in November 2021. The ad portrayed a goblin character driving a vehicle in a free-roam area, extracting minerals from mines and then selling them and using the proceeds to upgrade the vehicle. A complaint was made by an individual to the ASA, who believed the content of the ad was not representative of the actual gameplay, and the ad was therefore misleading.
AppQuantum disputed this, and in its response to the ASA, it claimed that players were able to extract minerals from mines in the game and upgrade the character or vehicles. AppQuantum said that the video in the ad did not intend to show actual gameplay, but rather a cinematic version. It also said that cinematic ads for games often portrayed action or events that were not representative of actual gameplay, but rather gave a cinematic representation of the game.
Not so subtle differences:
In its defence, AppQuantum provided a video of actual gameplay in the ad. The actual gameplay showed footage of characters mining rocks to obtain gold coins, but this process did not involve what was depicted in the ad. The gameplay footage did not show players able to travel around in a free-roam, sandbox-style area, as had been suggested in the video ad.
The ASA upheld the complaint, concluding that the ad was misleading due to the fact the actual gameplay was significantly different to that depicted in the ad. The ASA considered that consumers would view the ad as representative of the Gold and Goblins game as a whole, and the significant discrepancies between the ad and the gameplay would mislead users.
Why this matters: Businesses commonly used simulated gameplay or footage that is not from actual gameplay in advertisements for games. This ruling serves as a reminder that such ads should not be misleading and therefore either only contain actual gameplay sequences or clearly state where any gameplay footage is simulated.