it seems like ads for/in mobile games are much less regulated than other ads. Is that actually the case, and if so, why?

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Ads for mobile games almost always show those pin-pulling puzzles or “move your big number into a smaller number” when the actual game is a match-3 puzzler or (what could generously be described as) some sort of strategy RPG. Lately I’ve noticed they even lampshade this with something along the lines of “don’t you hate when the game is completely different than the ads? Well here’s one that’s not like that”, before of course pulling the same thing.

Conversely, console game ads that play on TV or YouTube always show the actual game, and have fine print that says “this is not gameplay” during the shots where it would apply. I remember when I was little, every toy commercial would have a sparkle-wipe transition to make it clear that the toy doesn’t actually fly itself around and talk.

I always assumed that the TV ads were like that because of some sort of regulation against false advertising, but the pin-pulling mobile game ads would clearly run afoul of that if it applied to them. Are there different rules for what ads can and can’t say depending on where they run? How did we get here? TIA

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Anonymous 0 Comments

TV channels and YouTube specifically regulate their advertising. App stores only regulate the apps themselves (and the in-store advertising etc) but the advertising inside the games themselves necessarily has to change over time with who they can sell advertising to. App stores can’t be responsible for reviewing everything nested within everything else, it’s a geometric progression. They just have flags about apps being “ad-supported” or having “in-app purchases”.

You could dodge the entire hornet’s nest by just avoiding ad supported apps to begin with but the deeper down the hole you go the more likely you’re gonna end up in hell.

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