Ad description

A paid-for Facebook ad for RuneScape, an online game, seen in September 2023, featured various scenes of gameplay highlighting the game’s new combat style, Necromancy. The caption stated, “Harness the dark art of Necromancy to defeat the First Necromancer” and contained a button labelled “Play Game”, which linked to a website landing page for the game.


The complainant, an academic researcher in game regulation, who understood that the game contained in-game purchases, including random-item purchasing (loot boxes), challenged whether the ad was misleading because it omitted material information.


Jagex Ltd confirmed that RuneScape was free to play and contained in-game purchases, which included random-item purchasing, in a mini-game called Treasure Hunter. They explained that the mini game required players to open chests containing items of value using keys which could be obtained in three different ways: earned through gameplay; purchased with real-world currency; or purchased with virtual currency that was only obtainable through gameplay. They highlighted that the ad did not promote the mini game but advertised the new “necromancy skill” launched within the game in August 2023.

Jagex believed the paid-for Facebook ad was constrained by time and space. As such, they had taken measures to ensure that consumers had all relevant information about the game by other means, before making the decision to download and play the game. They explained that the ad linked to a landing page which flagged the presence of in-game purchases and loot boxes in several areas. They explained that the footer of the landing page displayed three PEGI labels, including the label for in-game purchases, as well as text underneath which stated, “In-game Purchases (Includes Random Items)”. Those PEGI labels contained links to the PEGI website, where additional information was available to consumers about the specific in-game purchases and loot boxes included in the game. The landing page contained three further links via clickable buttons or icons leading to pages that displayed the same PEGI labels as detailed above. The home page, which could be accessed from the landing page, contained a drop-down menu which led to a dedicated page for the Treasure Hunter mini game. This page explained the mechanics of the game and included the same PEGI labels as at the footer. The landing page also contained a link to the terms and conditions of the game, which included information about virtual currencies and mini game credits. Upon download of the game, similar PEGI information was available under the character selection drop-down menu, which informed consumers that in-game purchases were present in the game. They therefore considered that the landing page, which would be accessed through the ad, contained sufficient information about the presence of in-game purchases and loot boxes to ensure consumers were made aware of their presence prior to downloading the game.

Jagex referred to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (the CPRs) which defined a consumer’s transactional decision as any decision taken by a consumer about whether, how and on what terms to buy, pay in whole or in part for, retain or dispose of a product. They also referred to the CAP Guidance, which stated that information about in-game purchases and random item purchasing was material to the decision to purchase or download a game. In this way, they argued that the transactional decision in this case was the decision to purchase or download RuneScape, which they pointed out, could not be done from the ad itself. Because the relevant information that was material to the decision to purchase or download the game was disclosed prior to that decision being made, they believed the ad did not breach the Code.



The ASA understood that the items received in a loot box were based on chance, and that a player would not know what items they had received in the box until the transaction was completed. CAP Guidance stated that the presence of in-game purchasing, and particularly random-item purchasing (loot boxes), was material to a consumer’s decision to purchase or download a game, especially for those with specific vulnerabilities. As such, marketers were required to ensure that advertising for the game made clear that it contained in-game purchasing and, if relevant, that it included loot boxes.

We understood that in-game purchases, including loot boxes, were present within the RuneScape game. Although we acknowledged that the presence of in-game purchases and random item purchases were disclosed once the consumer clicked through to the landing page, we considered that the ad itself did not include information which made that clear to consumers. Transactional decisions encompassed a wide range of decisions made by the consumer in relation to a product and their decision of whether, how and on what terms to make a purchase. The decision to click through to the RuneScape website (including, in this case, by clicking a button labelled “Play Game”) from the ad was a transactional decision in relation to downloading the game, and we considered that consumers were not provided with information that was material to that decision.

We noted Jagex’s assertion that the ad was constrained by time and space and, therefore, it had been necessary to include such disclosure in the landing page linked to by the ad. The ad was a paid-for Facebook post; the recommended character length for which was 125 characters in the primary text field, 40 characters in the headline field and 25 characters in the description field. We considered those requirements were not sufficiently limiting and, consequently, did not prevent the text “In-game Purchases (Includes Random Items)”, as disclosed in the landing page, from appearing in the ad. In any case, we considered that the medium did not preclude the display of the relevant PEGI label within the video graphic.

Because the ad did not make clear that the game contained in-game purchases, including loot boxes, which we considered was material to a consumer’s transactional decision, we concluded that the ad misleadingly omitted material information.

The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising).


The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Jagex Ltd to ensure that ads for RuneScape disclosed the presence of in-game purchases and random-item purchases (loot boxes).

CAP Code (Edition 12)

3.1     3.3    

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