Let's Talk About Mobile Game Video Ads and How Bad They Are

Sep 29, 2019 | 1 Votes by Mikhail 10 rate Your vote
Mobile game video ads are some of the worst kinds of ads you’ll see online. Unfortunately, they’re a huge problem since they deceive potential players and are overall, cringeworthy. WWGDB - Let's Talk About Mobile Game Video Ads and How Bad They Are

It’s a great time to be a gamer, whether you’re a hardcore “I own multiple platforms type” or a casual. Games are universally accessible today and we’re bombarded with a plethora of outstanding titles. However, this comes with a huge tradeoff. Being someone who always plays video games means you’ve scoured the web for game-related content. Upon doing so, Google, Facebook, and other ad networks will get the hint and say:

Oh, you love video games. Here are video game ads to make your browsing and viewing experience better!

Though this is good and all and there are some pretty slick ads, like those of World of Tanks, there are plenty of ads which are downright dumb, offensive, and misleading. In a way, they’re the scourge of the mobile game ads industry and unfortunately, countless people still fall for them.

What makes them so bad

We're sure there were some people who were convinced Nier: Automata is a mobile game

There are a few elements that make a mobile game video ad horrendous. Upon seeing them, they’ll make you wonder why in the world did the ad networks approve them in the first place. Let’s take a look at some of their characteristics.

Misleading, fake gameplay. Undoubtedly the most common characteristic is their fake, misleading gameplay. Good examples are strategy games that make it look like you’re leading an army in real-time, like in Total War. When you download the game though, you’ll discover that it’s actually just a cookie-cutter strategy base building RTS where battles are decided automatically. The same goes for ads that make games appear like 3D God of War level games when they’re just run-of-the-mill MMORPGs with autoplay.

Gameplay videos and assets taken from other titles. One of the worst ways you can advertise a game is to take assets from other, more popular games. When Nier: Automata first came out, there was a video ad showing 2B climbing up a ladder, exposing her undergarments. Once she reached the top, the screen transitioned to a call-to-action asking viewers to download a low-quality MMORPG. Other examples include using a gameplay video of The Witcher III with a mobile user interface and even a War Thunder clip to advertise a side-scrolling tank game. This practice is malicious, takes advantage of the hard work of others, and is grounds for a lawsuit.

Low production quality. Advertising has a specific role: they should show how good your product is. Unfortunately, a lot of mobile game video ads tend to do the opposite due to them using amateur actors and voiceovers with heavy accents. At times, they try to go for a comedic route, but they end up being cringeworthy.

Offensive. Not being an activist here, but there are a lot of ads that portray women in a negative manner. Great examples are ads with the premise of lady characters that pursue high-level players. Oversexualization is also an issue, considering that ads can be seen by everyone, especially those who haven’t reached a certain age.

Why people still fall for them

There were ads wherein The Witcher III was slapped with a mobile UI

Given that they’re obviously low-quality ads, they aren’t convincing to eagle-eyed gamers. However, it’s crazy as to how many people - especially casual players and non-gamers - still fall for and end up downloading them. If you dig deeper though, this isn’t a surprise.

They’re unavoidable.Like shadows, they loom on the recommended videos on your YouTube recommendations and Facebook timeline. They repeatedly appear, persuading you to download the game they’re trying to promote. This happens simply because the publishers have a huge advertising budget which we can presume is a lot higher than the budget used in developing and creating the game.

They focus on casuals and non-gamers. Sure, gamers are part of their demographic, but they mostly focus on an audience that does not list gaming as their #1 hobby. For example, these people can be convinced that a mediocre mobile MMORPG is Nier: Automata or God of War by using an ad created with their gameplay videos.

What can we do?

Unfortunately, we’re mostly powerless. The best thing we can do is simply block these ads or find a way to report them to advertisers. And of course, whatever you do, don’t download the games they promote. In any case, unless if Google and Facebook’s policies become more stringent in the near future, we can only hope.

However, it’s safe to say that these kinds of ads are a bad investment. Sure, a bunch of users may end up downloading a game, but once they discover that they’ve been duped, they’ll immediately uninstall it. This isn’t the best way to promote a game, simply because it earns the ire of many players who might have had fun and liked the advertised titles if their expectations weren’t set so high.

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