EA's "Free" Dungeon Keeper Ad Banned In The UK
The rise of free-to-play games is something of a mixed blessing for gamers. While everyone loves to get something for nothing, in many cases these games actually offer very little for free. They often encourage gamers to shell out to unlock most of the features the games in question. This has attracted a lot of criticism as to actually get the most out of these games you actually have to pay more than you would have if you'd just bought the thing in the first place. EA's mobile version of Dungeon Keeper was a perfect example, taking a beloved franchise and turning into a so-called freemium game. Many question whether such games can truly be described as free- and evidently the UK's Advertising Standards Authority agrees.
The independent body that oversees all advertising in Britain decided that EA's description of the game as "Free" is misleading. Although downloading the game itself with set you back a grand total of zilch, the content depicted in the commercial is only available to players you stump up the moolah- or waited an unreasonable amount of time. EA disputed the claim, saying that In-App purchases were not required to progress through the game, and are merely an option for those who wish to progress quicker. The ASA for their part felt the advertisement did not make this sufficiently clear, and did not in fact mention that IAP purchases were included. IAPs have been the subject of some debate in the UK over recent months, especially with games aimed at children. As a result of the controversy, games or applications offering IAP are now clearly marked in the App Store at least.
The ASA chose to uphold the complaint (which was made by a member of the public) meaning the ad is effectively banned. This means the ad will no longer be able to shown in the UK (in print or online) in it's current form. The result will force EA to rethink how they promote free-to-play games going forward- in the United Kingdom at least. With EA's recent comments suggesting such games are increasingly important, it seems likely this model isn't going anywhere soon.
How do you feel about FTP? Is it a good thing or a trend that needs to stop?