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ASA rules Golf Clash ad misled around loot boxes disclosure

UK regulator urges EA to disclose randomised in-game purchases in future ads "prominently and clearly"

Original story: The UK's Advertising Standards Authority has found that EA has been misleading customers in a paid-for Facebook ad regarding the presence of loot boxes in Golf Clash.

As a result of the ruling, the ad won't be allowed to appear again in its current form, with the ASA advising EA to make sure future ads "prominently and clearly" state the presence of randomised in-game purchases.

The Golf Clash advertisement had text at the bottom reading "Includes optional in-game purchases (includes random items)," but it disappeared after a few seconds. The complaint related to whether the presence of loot boxes was clear enough, due to how fleeting the message was.

The argument was upheld, with the ASA concluding that the ad breached the UK's Non-Broadcast Code and represented misleading advertising.

In particular, the regulator pointed to the fact that the text was too small in size, only appeared for a couple of seconds, and was written in a "light grey font" against a quickly moving background that was brightly coloured.

"We therefore found the background creative distorted the appearance of the text and, in combination with the quick-moving nature of the video clips, made it difficult to read the text, which we considered was material information to consumers," the ASA ruled.

It continued: "Because the presentation of the text within the context of the ad overall was not presented clearly, we concluded the ad was likely to mislead consumers to the presence of loot boxes within the game."

The ASA had already warned EA in previous rulings earlier this year, also around misleading ads for Golf Clash.

Update: EA provided the following statement to regarding the ASA ruling: "This was an old ad for Golf Clash and while it did contain the required disclosures, they were not as visible as they should have been.

"We remain committed to ensuring continued clarity and transparency in our ads to ensure players and parents have the information they need to make informed choices."

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Marie Dealessandri avatar
Marie Dealessandri: Marie joined in 2019 to head its Academy section. A journalist since 2012, she started in games in 2016. She can be found (rarely) tweeting @mariedeal, usually on a loop about Baldur’s Gate and the Dead Cells soundtrack. GI resident Moomins expert.
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