EA, Jagex and Miniclip Facebook Ads Banned for Loot Box Violations

EA, Jagex and Miniclip Facebook Ads Banned for Loot Box Violations

Published: March 21, 2024

The U.K.'s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled against prominent game developers EA, Jagex, and Miniclip for violating advertising regulations by failing to disclose the presence of loot boxes in their promotional materials.

These findings come after complaints were lodged by game regulation researcher Leon Y. Xiao, who highlighted the absence of crucial information regarding loot boxes and other in-game purchases on paid Facebook ads.

Loot boxes contain random in-game items and can be purchased with real or in-game currency.

They have been a subject of controversy due to concerns about their resemblance to gambling and their potential impact on players, especially younger audiences.

The ASA’s Ruling

The complaints are for the Facebook ads of EA’s Golf Clash Jagex’s Runescape and Miniclip’s 8 Ball Pool and their use of phrases like “DAILY LOG IN BONUS,” “Play Game” and “PLAY FREE NOW,” respectively.

The problem is that there was no mention at all that the games include in-game purchases like loot boxes.

The ASA deemed these omissions as misleading to consumers, as they failed to provide essential details about in-game purchases that could significantly impact players' experiences and spending habits.

“Because the ad did not make clear that the game contained in-game purchases, including loot boxes, which we considered was material to a consumer’s transactional decision, we concluded that the ad misleadingly omitted material information,” the ASA ruling on Jagex stated.

As a consequence, the specific Facebook ads are banned, and the gaming companies received a warning to disclose “the presence of in-game purchases, including random-item purchases (loot boxes)” in future ads.

Response and Future Implications

EA attributed the oversight to human error and that it was “mistakenly published.”

Jagex cited time and space constraints as a factor for not mentioning in-game purchases, but that the landing page where users are redirected has the proper disclosures on in-game purchases and loot boxes.

Miniclip pointed out the free-to-play nature of their game as a reason for not including disclosures about loot boxes in their ads.

These rulings serve as a wake-up call for game developers and publishers to review their advertising practices and ensure compliance with regulations.

This is so gaming ads can provide transparent information to consumers regarding any potential monetization features, especially when it comes to loot boxes that have come under scrutiny for their potential to encourage excessive spending or addictive behaviors.

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