The Sad State of In-Game Ads

With every passing day, the state of advertising worsens — specifically in mobile games. Today, one app took it too far. This is my story:

I am sitting on my bed, comfortably, browsing the Play Store for something new. Minutes pass with no luck. “Utter garbage,” I think to myself as I keep scrolling. What has the mobile game market become? Finally, after what seems like hours, a game piques my interest. I immediately click Install without a thought. Seconds later I open the game.

Instantly, the pixelated glow of a hideous banner ad smacks my corneas. Then, an overly obese button begins shouting “REMOVE ADS” right at my face, begging over and over to be pressed. I resist. Level after level I ignore its pleas, but it slowly chips away at me. My frustration grows. I still have questions. Do I even like this game? Is it any good? I was unable focus through the noise.

Suddenly, upon completion of one of the levels, something happened…

BAM!! A flurry of color and distractions invade my screen at the very moment my thumb is about to press the Next Level button. “Not so fast!” I think to myself as I catch my thumb in the act. I take a step back and begin to decipher the monstrosity that has so rudely interrupted my gameplay.

It was a full page advertisement for some shitty free-to-play game. A large bright image dominated the ad space, with a Play Store link in the lower third that said the following:

Install for free, because you play: [[ LIST OF GAMES ]]

I ponder for a moment, thinking the ad is somehow implying a discount based on the fact that I’ve played these select games. Curious as to what it actually means, I click the link. The Play Store opens to display the advertised app with a button to install the game for free. FREE!! The game is free for everyone!! What a fucking LIE. I back out of the store and immediately uninstall the game.

Conclusion

I have nothing against the idea of advertising. There is a place for ads in this world, but the use of manipulative and deceptive tactics to force users to click links has gone too far. I would much rather play a game with a limited trial than be greeted by a purposely bad experience (ads) with a monetary exit strategy.

Thank you for listening to my story. I feel much better now.

gamedev