EA has sparked a fresh fan backlash after adding in-game ads to UFC 4.
Players noticed advertisements briefly pop up at the beginning and end of replays in the premium video game, and a clip of this has gone viral on reddit with over 86,000 upvotes.
The clip in question shows a full-screen advert for Amazon TV show The Boys, alongside a 4th September 2020 date for the launch of its second season. This advert also displays at the end of the replay.
The clip also reveals an advert for The Boys on the canvas, and a third pop-up during actual gameplay at the bottom of the screen.
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These adverts went live just over two weeks after UFC 4 came out on 14th August 2020, which critics have pointed out means they won’t have been picked up by reviewers. In fact, gamers have reported the same in-game adverts in UFC 3, too.
While in-game advertisements are hardly a new thing, and players of free-to-download games and mobile titles are used to watching adverts in order to progress, the UFC community appears united in its disgust at the addition of in-game pop-up advertisements in UFC 4 – a full-price game that’s already under the cosh from fans for not turning out as well as many had hoped.
“I wouldn’t mind the commercials if it was a free-to-play game,” commented redditor ryangoddard1984. “But the full retail price plus being bombarded with advertisements is a real slap in the face. If it was just on the octagon canvas then it would actually be pretty cool. Or if it was a little trailer in the corner of the screen for five seconds.”
EA has yet to comment (we’ve asked), but it looks like the adverts are part of a new initiative that caught the attention of the business press earlier this year.
In July 2020, the Wall Street Journal reported that AT&T’s WarnerMedia ran three ad tests within February 2018’s UFC 3 (probably why hardly anyone noticed) back in May promoting Turner properties Rick & Morty, Snowpiercer, and The Match.
Then, in July, credit-reporting company Experian started a test within UFC 3 for its Experian Boost product, which aims to help people increase their credit score. The test ad featured celebrity spokesman John Cena, according to WSJ. It’s all part of reaching a wider, younger audience that isn’t necessarily watching telly, according to the marketers.
The WSJ noted that the video game executives were mindful of a backlash from gamers, and that’s exactly what they’ve got now with the Amazon adverts in UFC 4. Perhaps they viewed a potential negative reaction as the cost of doing business.
What’s next? An advert you have to watch at half-time in FIFA 21?