UK’s Advertising Standards Authority has banned a certain type of ads Playrix used for its ‘match-three’ titles Homescapes and Gardenscapes. The regulator found these ads misleading as they “were not representative of the games they were purported to feature.”
As spotted by Gamasutra, the UK ad authority targeted ads featuring a puzzle that requires players to pull pins in a particular sequence triggering either a certain desired outcome or a character’s demise.
The regulator argues that the pin-sliding mechanic is not representative of the core gameplay offered by Playrix’s titles.
Playrix does not agree. According to the compay, the ads in question feature enough content that is actually found in their games.
“Playrix believed consumers would take from the ads that the games contained the content seen, as well as similar content involving similar characters. Also that the games would have the same design and mechanics, alongside similar gameplay. They believed that the ad appealed to the logic and problem-solving skills required to win during the games. They also believed consumers may have thought that their games were not straightforward ‘match-three’ titles, but would include a variety of mechanics,” Playrix’s response reads.
Playrix further argues that the gameplay shown in the ads is featured in ‘mini-games’ available in their titles as of April 2020. However, players can only unlock the pin-sliding experience after completing a significant number of levels (mini-games, according to the developer, are typically available once every 20 levels). Playrix also said that they had since moved this kind of puzzles towards the beginning of Homescapes and Gardenscapes so that more people can reach them. Moreover, the company included the “Not all images represent actual gameplay” notice in their ads.
Nevertheless, the Advertising Standards Authority found that the ads in question are likely to lead consumers to expect “a similar problem solving style” from Homescapes and Gardenscapes. Ads, according to the regulator, should be reflective of the overall experience built around “a storyline about the renovation of a cartoon house or garden and ‘match-three’ style puzzle games.”
The authority has requested Playrix to remove these existing ads in the UK and not use this format again. “The ASA’s recent ruling on the topic will send an even stronger message to other game makers about their use of misleading ads,” warns video games analyst Matthew Bailey.