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[Homescapes]Playrix: gameplay footage must be representative of the gaming experience

2021-07-31

  When advertising a game, can you use gameplay footage which does not actually feature in the game, or only features to a limited degree?

  The key takeaway

  Any depiction of gameplay footage must be representative of what a consumer would experience when playing the game.

  The complaint

  Two paid for ads were shown on Facebook, one for Homescapes and one for Gardenscapes, both of which included video depictions of their respective games. The ASA received seven complaints from individuals who claimed that the ads were misleading on the basis that the content was not representative of the Homescapes or Gardenscapes games.

  The response

  PLR Worldwide Sales Ltd t/a Playrix said that the content that featured in in the ads was included in their games and that it represented part of the gameplay. The specific content in the ads was part of ‘mini games’ and available in some of the higher levels of each of the games. They explained that the two games contained thousands of levels and a number of elements, namely: an unfolding storyline which involved the renovation of a house or a garden; ‘mini-games’ (as featured in the ads); and ‘match-three’ style games. They explained that the ‘mini games’ generally featured once every 20 levels of the main games.

  The decision

  The ASA acknowledged that the ads included a disclaimer that “Not all images represent actual gameplay”. They therefore accepted that consumers would understand that the exact gameplay featured in the ads may not necessarily be available when playing the game. However, the ASA said that consumers would nevertheless expect that the Homescapes and Gardenscapes games would consist of a similar problem-solving style to that featured in the ads. Given that users would need to play a significant amount of content which was of a different style in order to access the gameplay featured in the ads, the ASA considered that the ads were not representative of the games they were purported to feature and were consequently misleading.

  Why is this important?

  The adjudication is a helpful reminder of the care that needs to be taken when advertising games to ensure that the content/style of game depicted reflects what consumers would generally experience when playing.

  Any practical tips?

  Helpfully, the ASA seemed to accept that simulated gameplay footage or gameplay footage that does not actually feature as part of a game is acceptable, provided that the content shown is not substantially different to what a consumer can experience. However, given the reliance that the ASA placed on the use of the disclaimer, if any simulated footage is used advertisers should ensure that the ad features text confirming that “not all images represent actual gameplay” or similar.