On Tuesday, July 1 we established what EA had learned from its experience with Dungeon Keeper Mobile, and as of Wednesday, July 2, it has been reported that an ad for the game have been banned for claiming the mobile game is free.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled a verdict that Dungeon Keeper on iOS “is not free and must not be advertised as such,” according to MCV. The Advertising Standards Authority acted to uphold a complaint about an ad for Dungeon Keeper that described the game as being free.
The ad itself is reported to be criticized for showing a well-developed dungeon that wouldn’t have been able to be achieved without either spending money or lots of time.
“The ASA noted that the game software was available to download for free, and that it was possible to play the game without spending money,” the organisation noted in a press release.
“We regarded it as extremely likely that players would reach a position where they would be unable to take any further meaningful or progressive action in the game until a timer had finished or been skipped, and that these periods would become longer and more significant, and the cost of skipping increasingly higher, as the player progressed.
From the information available in the ad, players would expect the gameplay progression and their ability to advance to be unhindered by unexpected and excessively onerous delays, and we therefore considered that the length and frequency of these countdown events was beyond that which would be reasonably expected by players.
We consequently considered it likely that many players would regard the gameplay experience as unexpectedly curtailed and as a result would need to spend Gems in order to achieve the form of gameplay anticipated.
While we understood that the average consumer would appreciate that free-to-play games were likely to contain monetisation functions, we considered that they would also expect the play experience of a game described as ‘free’ to not be excessively restricted.”
Needless to say EA didn’t back down from the ASA, and it was reported that the publisher argued that the ad was not misleading, and it also contested that the claim of Dungeon Keeper’s gameplay being “severely limited,” sharing data that the publisher believed “demonstrated that non-spenders were well represented in the number of players who reached the middle and end-points of the game.”
“The timers and premium currency did not only function as a monetisation strategy, but balanced gameplay and provided players with a sense of progression and enabled resource management,” EA told the ASA. “They said that even if there was no monetisation in the game a timing mechanism would still be present.”
You can read the Advertising Standards Authority's full report on the matter via the source links below.