EA admits ‘mistakenly publishing’ two ‘misleading’ ads banned by ASA

The ASA has banned two paid-for Facebook ads for the mobile app game Golf Clash owned by EA Limited (Electronic Arts Limited), upholding a complaint which deemed the ads misleading because they “ommitted material information”.

The ASA argued that both ads were “misleading” because they neglected to clearly mention the presence of in-game purchasing, which it said could “affect a consumer’s transactional decision”.

The first ad was seen in August 2023 and showed a video of a man pointing to on-screen text that stated “5% extra balls and games through purchases”, “daily log in bonus” and “sign up to our newsletter for 500 gems”.

It was accompanied by the caption “The golf clash web store is now live! Head on over and check out our awesome deals! Log in now and claim your daily log in bonus chest!”.

The ASA’s complaint revolved around the fact that it did not mention that virtual currencies and “loot boxes” could be purchased on the web store as well as in the game.

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Loot boxes are a type of random-item purchase in which the consumer does not know what they will receive until the transaction is completed. There have been concerns raised around the pressure created by such items, particularly on kids – and where in game currencies are required to keep the games exciting.

The second ad featured an image of a virtual golf course, with the Golf Clash logo a sign for “tour championship” and text which stated “starts on August 21 2023”, with the caption “When reaching ‘Gold prestige’, convert all leftover balls into ‘generation tokens’.

The regulator said the ads much not appear again in the form complained of, and asked EA to ensure that it disclosed the presence of in-game purchases including random item purchases.

Responding to the ASA, EA said that the ads were “mistakenly published” as a “result of human error” and confirmed that the ads had been removed. The ASA said EA “reiterated” its “commitment to compliant advertising”.

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