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Fake mobile game advertisements

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First you made a simplistic game, and then in order to promote that game you resort to a shady marketing practice?

Many mobile game developers get profit not only off microtransactions, but also by advertising. Free mobile games are usually plagued with advertisements for other games, and while some are decent, others don't show the gameplay which games have in reality or ruin the reputation of the final product. The ads appear if you're connected to Wi-Fi or mobile data.

Why They Suck

  1. Mobile gaming has nearly monopolised online advertising. About 97% of ads you see are related to mobile games.
  2. While they do help developers profit, and are a good substitution for microtransactions, some games, such as Fight List, have the audacity to show tons of annoying ads within a short period of time. Because more ads means more revenue, they try to add as many ads as they can to the point where they show about 10 ads within a minute.
  3. Several live action mobile game ads have cringe-inducing and unfunny acting. One infamous example is Lords Mobile, a Clash of Clans ripoff that had horrible let's play-esque advertisements, with fake CGI game footage that doesn't even represent the actual game itself.
    • Even though Mobile Legends: Bang Bang is a good game, some of their ads are really terrible and have bad acting.
    • The aforementioned ads attempt to replicate old school mobile game trailers such as the IRL Fruit Ninja trailer or even that of Gameloft's Modern Combat: Sandstorm.
    • Many clickbait ads now include crappy and clichéd phrases or quotes such as "Why is this game so hard?", "99% of people can't beat this level", "My mom: | My dad:", "I can't get past level [X]", "Harder than you think!", "I'm sure you can't find the 4th object", "Catch the cheater", "I can't reach pink [x]", "No one make it to the ocean", "If you scored [x], you can go to [x]", "Wow the actual game from all those ads", etc.
  4. They can feature a player trying to complete a level (an easy one in particular), and keep failing in order to get people to play said game and have the ability to complete the level successfully. This is often followed with quotes like "I can't reach [level/section]".
  5. Newer ads for games, especially lower-end games such as Words Story, Merge Plane, Gardenscapes and Matchington Mansion, are incredibly repetitive. One variant will typically show the player managing to solve a puzzle or problem a few times (mostly easy ones) before messing up and having a circle with the word "FAIL" appear. Another variant will show two players, one being significantly more advanced than the other, with labels such as "NOOB" and "PRO", "MY MOM" and "MY DAD", and "ME" and "MY (family member)".
    • Sometimes, these ads unfairly compare two players together such as one ad that compares an "Idiot" to "Jesus" while the so-called "idiot" had literally nothing to catch while the "Jesus" had many hippopotamuses to catch [1]
  6. Some ads for mobile games, one notorious example being Toon Blast! (which is however a good game), can play very frequently, which can cause boatloads of annoyance for players. To make matters worse, some of these ads cannot be skipped and must be replayed. This could make players not want to download such promoted games, due to how common they pop up.
  7. Some ads are actually demos for the games that are being advertised. They are often poorly made, with barely any effort put into them. Some of them had a "play demo" button, but it redirects you to either Google Play Store or Apple App Store. (depending on your mobile phone) Lords Mobile had a demo ad that represented the fake gameplay shown in the regular ads, not the actual gameplay. Luckily, most of these demos stay true to the actual game, not the fake footage.
    • Since they aren't actual apps, they usually take so long to load, making the viewer of the advertisement have to wait through a loading sequence which is often a black screen.
  8. Some games, sometimes even family-friendly ones, may display ads that contain inappropriate content. These ads are somehow reminiscent to Elsagate.
    • They might use incredibly grotesque versions of copyrighted cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and SpongeBob from SpongeBob SquarePants, which can give kids and fans nightmares. Some ads might also use official art of characters without permission.
    • Some ads have characters perpetrating harmful and upsetting acts, such as an ad where an old man attempts to commit suicide just because his best friend died. Thankfully, his plan is cut off by two women who come to his house and fix it.
    • Some ads are even outright disgusting and nauseous, especially those featuring human waste or toilet humour. One example is the ads for Ant Legion, where a boy literally urinates on an ant or even recent ads for DIY Dessert.
    • In some cases, they might also advertise not-so-family-friendly games, mostly real-life-styled games like Choices and Episode. An ad even depicted mild gay sex.
    • Some ads feature a woman with oversized breasts and buttocks getting stuck somewhere, and instead of freeing her, the ad depicts the player sexually assaulting her!
    • An ad of Spa Masters had a woman getting bigger buttocks (which was one thing). The main problem is after her buttocks grew, she starts twerking, which actually goes on loop, twice.
    • Some ads use hentai art, even if the game has nothing to do with anime.
    • Some of the creators seem to have a fetish for pregnancy to the point in many ads, pregnancy and babies are shoved out of nowhere, even when the ad has nothing to do with it. Most of these ads are prominent on Choices and Episode.
    • Both games also have ads depicting lesbianism.
    • A recent instance of this existing was when ads for various Riddle games started showing up on YouTube, mainly on kids' videos. These ads showcased women getting stripped to their underwear in very explicit ways, which doesn't just objectify women but shows how broken YouTube's advertising system is.
    • Some ads use sexual innuendos. One example is the ads for Lily's Garden, where she is trying to close the top of a washing machine but fails. Then she sits on the machine to hold back the lid and turns it on, and starts to feel aroused, indicating that she's using it as a vibrator. And later on she takes her friends to a laundromat and they do the same thing.
    • Some ads are, even worse, sexist or even racist. An example for the former is an ad for a political oriented game where a female attorney demands all men to be evicted from town, and they get chased away.
  9. They often engage in asset theft, mostly those from Voodoo games. They directly steal content from others such as videos in order to illegally make profit for others.
    • The most common method is using game footage from YouTube. It can be easily identified, especially if the video has bad bitrate quality and has watermarks.
    • For example, War Ages directly stole footage from an indie game known as Banished, according to a Reddit post.
    • Also, there was a game that had an ad that directly stole assets from Clash Of Clans. Apparently, the same can be said for the game itself.
    • Another example is Dark 3, which used footage of Dark Souls III in one ad.
    • Some Minecraft clones ironically steal Minecraft gameplay videos, some of them even with the video creator's original watermark on them.
    • There are some ads that have Mickey Mouse's hand in it.
    • Some Grand Theft Auto clones use footage from the games themselves, but the difference is that the GTA game footage is modded with real-life car brands and sometimes a different map.
  10. False advertisement is an increasingly growing problem among mobile game ads. More on that here.
  11. The even more annoying fact is that some of these ads are interactive ones that won't let you close it until you play the demo that comes with it. Worse about these, it won't even let you play it for the duration of the ad. The last few seconds will have a popup, example "Great job! Get the full game for more!"
    • Some such as Airport City have fake buttons or arrows that seems like is part of the interactive ad, but will take you to the App Store or Play Store instead.
    • Sometimes, the ads only pretend to let you play a demo, only to redirect you to the app store when attempting it.
  12. Sometimes, they do not even load properly, especially on devices that use outdated processors. They can take about 10 seconds to load when, say you are defeated in a game like Subway Surfers, but when you want to immediately start another run, later the advertisement will show up and block your gameplay, often without pausing it and leading to the game being over since you were unable to control the game because of the ad. And especially on demos, they can have a timer that lasts longer than the demo itself as mentioned above, meaning that you will be starting at a blank screen for some time.
  13. In some games, if you want to recharge your health, continue, add a bonus for something or even gain rare currency, the game requires you to watch an advertisement to achieve it or wait until your stamina refills. While watching a single ad to gain material might not be too bad, most games will require you to grind on ads to gain enough stamina or currency.
    • If you also don't want to do the said things, it may still play an ad anyway.
  14. They can occur during a loading screen. While this idea is interesting, the problem is that you either have to watch the whole thing or wait for the timer to run out. In some games, it can happen every time which becomes very annoying.
  15. While these ads can be turned off via Airplane mode, some games plan ahead and either integrate the ads within the app itself instead or require you to be connected to the Internet for the game to start up, making it immune to the lack of internet. Sega often disables access to their mobile games without internet connection until their customers pay to integrate ads. In addition, some always-online games will always promote an overpriced ad-free microtransaction if you wish to play offline.
  16. Some games require you to pay for them in order to play them without pop-ups, forcing you to go to a store to buy a point card. The example is the Kemco games, if you download the game for free, you will find pop-ups becoming common halfway through every time you're done with three or four battles. To remedy this you need to download a paid version which is a pain to those who can't afford a point card.
  17. Sometimes they will be placed in such a way as to obstruct parts of the UI or playing area, often with a ridiculously tiny "close" button in one corner and the whole of the rest of the ad set up as tap-to-open. In the worst examples, the close/skip button is fake, and instead sends you directly to the App Store/Play Store.
  18. Some of the ads hire celebrities to be featured in them, as an attempt to sugarcoat their games and make it look good. A notably stupid example is an ad for Lineage 2: Revolution, which featured Conan O'Brien, whom they said was the "world's greatest gamer." Might we mention that Conan O'Brien himself has said multiple times in his own shows that he doesn't know anything about video games?
  19. Continuing with #18, some of them use Cameo videos, where they ask the celebrity to recite the script of the ad. Fortunately however, some celebrities deny to do so after finding out what they're trying to do.
  20. Some ads for games like Idle Heroes have bad English.
  21. When you try to exit an app and then get on it, it can sometimes play an ad for no reason whatsoever. However, you can just click the recent apps button on Android or swipe the home button on iOS to close the app.
  22. They might use the same background music, which gets annoying over time.
  23. They try to cash in on popular media, Internet trends and memes so that more people will download their apps. This however only occurs when said media is trending. Because of this, most games based on these trends are rushed. For those who can't catch up with the trend due to complex development, they add said media in the ads just in time before the trend dies.
    • Examples of these are Among Us, Squid Game, and Poppy Playtime as well as the recent Will Smith-Chris Rock slapping incident.
    • They're even shameless about what trend they implement in the ads. Some ads even attempted to capitalise on the Russo-Ukrainian War. This is outright disrespectful.
  24. Speaking of memes, some on the other hand, actually meme their own games by advertising them as such. Most of the time, they use comparative memes to make their games look better, say for example the Swole Doge vs. Cheems meme, with their game representing Swole Doge.
  25. Some advertisers are extremely desperate for traction, as they tend to beg people to download the game, claiming that they "paid for the ad". Even though ads themselves are paid for, they sound like they're saying that the advertising price was too expensive for them and that people must watch their ads and play their games in order for them to win back their money.
  26. Formerly, ads were shown as banners in-game, but they obscured part of the game controls.
  27. As a game developer, you cannot decide what ads can run on your games. All the misleading, perverted, and idiotic ads will be running on your game.
  28. Even apps are now capitalising on these clichés. Though some of them show the actual product, said ads are still panned because of them featuring mobile game ad tropes.

Redeeming Qualities (in general)

  1. Watching ads in games can actually give you bonuses to help you in-game currency (e.g. treasure chests in Temple Run 2 and gems in Plants vs. Zombies 2).
    • Some games do not play ads until you need to claim currency, keeping your gameplay hassle-free.
  2. This is a way to support honest developers.
  3. If a game does not require you to be online in order to play, you can effectively disable ads by disconnecting your device from the internet.
    • If you own an Android device, you can also use the Back button to exit ads. However, keep in mind that this method won't work with all ads.
  4. They are usually added in free games to replace microtransactions, although this is not always the case, such as Angry Birds 2, where you either have to buy microtransactions for more cards or watch an ad for one more.
  5. In fact, they are the best substitute to microtransactions, as players do not have to pay to win, and developers can still profit.
  6. Some of them may be unintentionally funny or interesting, mainly the ones that don't have the person constantly failing and those that involve moments that make no sense at all, like this one.

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