5 result(s)

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  • Ruling
  • Electronic Arts Ltd t/a EA

    • Ruling
    • Upheld
    • 20 March 2024

    webstore contained random-item purchasing (‘loot boxes), challenged whether the ads were misleading … that the items received in a loot box were based on chance, and that a player would not know what items … presence of in-game purchasing, and particularly random-item purchasing (loot boxes), was material to a

  • Miniclip (UK) Ltd

    • Ruling
    • Upheld
    • 20 March 2024

    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. Miniclip (UK) Ltd believed that material information had not been omitted from the ad because the game did not require users to make a purchase in order to play and progress. However, they confirmed that the ad had been withdrawn after being notified of the complaint and said that future ads would not omit such material information. Upheld 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 consumers with specific vulnerabilities. As such, marketers should ensure that advertising for the game made clear that it contained in-game purchasing and, if relevant, that it included random-item purchasing. We understood that 8 Ball Pool contained virtual currency and functional items, like cues, that were available to purchase, as well as loot boxes, such as ‘golden spins’. We noted that the ad for 8 Ball Pool did not contain any information to indicate to consumers that the game contained in-game purchases, including loot boxes. We therefore considered consumers would not understand from the ad that the game contained in game-purchases or loot boxes. We acknowledged that Miniclip withdrew the ad on receipt of the complaint and provided an assurance that future ads would comply with the requirements of the CAP Code. Nonetheless, because the ad did not make clear that the game contained in-game purchases or loot boxes, which we considered was material to consumers’ decisions to download the game, we concluded that the ad misleadingly omitted material information. The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising). A paid-for Facebook ad for an online game omitted material information about the inclusion of loot boxes. The ad must not appear in the form complained of. We told Miniclip (UK) Ltd to ensure that ads for 8 Ball Pool disclosed the presence of in-game purchases, including random-item purchases (loot boxes).

  • Hutch Games Ltd

    • Ruling
    • Upheld
    • 04 October 2023

    The complainant, an academic researcher in game regulation, who understood that the game contained random item purchasing (“loot boxes”), challenged whether the ad was misleading because it omitted material information. Hutch Games Ltd confirmed that the “F1 Clash – Car Racing Manager” game was free to download and contained in-app purchases, which included random item purchasing (loot boxes). They explained that there were different items, with varying probability, that could be acquired in the loot boxes. There were several ways that loot boxes could be obtained in the game. Players could purchase them with money or the in-game currency called “Bucks”, which could be purchased or earned through gameplay. They highlighted that loot boxes could also be obtained for free through gameplay, and that, on rare occasions they gave players a crate for free. They stated that players could progress through the game, regardless of whether they decided to spend money or not. As such, they did not believe that material information had been omitted from the ad which prevented consumers making an informed decision on whether to download the game. Hutch Games referenced CAP Guidance on advertising in-game purchases which stated that if virtual currency could be earned in the game, regardless of whether it could also be purchased, the in-game storefront and any inducement to purchase items would not be considered advertising for the purposes of the CAP Code. Because Bucks, the in-game currency, could be earned as well as purchased, they believed that the CAP Code did not apply to the ad. After receiving notification of the complaint, Hutch Games understood that they had misinterpreted the CAP Guidance. Consequently, they planned to update the product listing on the Apple App store. Upheld 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 loot boxes was material to consumers’ decision to purchase or download a game, particularly to those with specific vulnerabilities. As such, marketers should ensure that advertising for the game made clear that it contained in-game purchasing and, if relevant, that it included random-item purchasing. Mention of random-item purchasing should be immediately next to (or part of) information about in-game purchasing more generally. Loot boxes were available to purchase within the “F1 Clash – Car Racing Manager” game. We noted Hutch Games’ argument that the ad could not be considered advertising for the purpose of the CAP Code because their in-game currency could be earned as well as purchased. However, we understood that this distinction only applied to in-game storefronts and inducements to purchase items within a game. We further understood that product listings on app stores were within the scope of the CAP Code, regardless of whether any virtual currency could be earned in the game. The product listing for “F1 Clash – Car Racing Manager” highlighted to players that the game offered in-game purchases which could be purchased with money. However, we noted that no further information was given on the nature of those in-app purchases or whether it was possible to purchase loot boxes in the game. We therefore considered the information included in the ad was not sufficient for consumers to understand that the in-game purchases included loot boxes. Because the ad did not make clear that the game contained loot boxes, which we considered was material to consumers’ decisions to download the game, we concluded that the ad misleadingly omitted material information … not appear again in its current form. We told Hutch Games Ltd to make clear whether games contained random item purchasing (“loot boxes”). … loot

  • Hutch Games Ltd

    • Ruling
    • Upheld
    • 04 October 2023

    The complainant, an academic researcher in game regulation, who understood that the game contained random item purchasing (“loot boxes”), challenged whether the ad was misleading because it omitted material information. Hutch Games Ltd confirmed that the “Rebel Racing” game was free to download and contained in-app purchases, which included random item purchasing (“loot boxes”). They explained that there were different items, with varying probability, that could be acquired in the loot boxes. There were several ways that loot boxes could be obtained in the game. Players could purchase them with money or the in-game currency called “Keys”, which could be purchased or earned through gameplay. They highlighted that loot boxes could also be obtained for free through gameplay, and that, on rare occasions they gave them to players for free. They stated that players could progress through the game, regardless of whether or not they decided to spend money. As such, they did not believe that material information had been omitted from the ad which prevented consumers making an informed decision on whether to download the game. Hutch Games referenced CAP Guidance on advertising in-game purchases which stated that if virtual currency could be earned in the game, regardless of whether it could also be purchased, the in-game storefront and any inducement to purchase items would not be considered advertising for the purposes of the CAP Code. Because Keys, the in-game currency, could be earned as well as purchased, they believed that the CAP Code did not apply to the ad. After receiving notification of the complaint, Hutch Games understood that they had misinterpreted the CAP Guidance. Consequently, they planned to update the product listing on the Google Play Store. Upheld 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 loot boxes was material to consumers’ decision to purchase or download a game, particularly to those with specific vulnerabilities. As such, marketers should ensure that advertising for the game made clear that it contained in-game purchasing and, if relevant, that it included random-item purchasing. Mention of random-item purchasing should be immediately next to (or part of) information about in-game purchasing more generally. Loot boxes were available to purchase within the “Rebel Racing” game. We noted Hutch Games’ argument that the ad could not be considered advertising for the purpose of the CAP Code because their in-game currency could be earned as well as purchased. However, we understood that distinction only applied to in-game storefronts and inducements to purchase items within a game. We further understood that product listings on app stores were within the scope of the CAP Code, regardless of whether any virtual currency could be earned in the game. The product listing for “Rebel Racing” highlighted to players that the game offered in-game purchases, which could be purchased with money. However, we noted that no further information was given on the nature of those in-app purchases or whether it was possible to purchase loot boxes in the game. We therefore considered the information included in the ad was not sufficient for consumers to understand that the in-game purchases included loot boxes. Because the ad did not make clear that the game contained loot boxes, which we considered was material to consumers’ decisions to download the game, we concluded that the ad misleadingly omitted material information. The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading Advertising). A listing for the game "Rebel Racing" on the Google Play store did not make it sufficiently clear that the game contained loot boxes. The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Hutch Games Ltd to make clear whether games contained random item purchasing (loot boxes).

  • Jagex Ltd

    • Ruling
    • Upheld
    • 20 March 2024

    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. Upheld 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 … purchases, including loot boxes, which we considered was material to a consumer’s transactional … RuneScape omitted material information about the inclusion of loot boxes. The ad must not appear