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JUNE - 15 - 2016

This is Hokum!

I was on facebook this morning, ruining my day as usual, when this advertisement for Unity video ads appeared, happily touting the benefits of video advertising in mobile gaming!

Red, angry edits are mine

I couldn't help myself. My initial reaction was something along the lines of: "Reward your players?! The hell you say?!"

Now, I love Unity as a platform for game creation. I'm a self-declared Unity zealot. However, I have some real issues with this ad campaign.

First: how exactly are we rewarding players with video ads? Is it rewarding to waste their time, forcing them to watch yet another advertisement in a world where they're already bombarded with ads every minute of every day?

Is it rewarding them by locking away game content and functionality behind the barrier of a paid advertisement?

How in the name of blithering fisticuffs is that a reward?! The truthful answer is: "It's not."

It is, in actuality, a punishment to your player for wanting to play your game. It breaks the flow of the experience and ultimately holds your player hostage while they throw away precious moments of their fleeting life to watch some conniving, cloying ad that is usually pushing some other "freemium" game that will pull the same stunt on them if they download it!

I get it. I understand that studios are just trying to earn money from their work. I have no issue with that. I take issue with the ridiculous notion that this system is in any way a reward to their users.

Let's just be honest and say what's really going on. Yes, freemium games are technically "free to play" with no initial cost up front. But let's not pretend they're truly free. The cost inevitably comes later, with annoying, life-sucking ads that are foisted on the player at every turn, often breaking the game outright and generally ruining what could have been an engaging, flowing experience. The cost to the player is: they just have to put up with it.

One last little disingenuous excuse studios like to defend this practice with is the, "Users don't have to watch the ads if they don't want to!" argument. No, the user doesn't have to watch the ads. Mind you, the game is of course designed to be infuriatingly difficult, slow, painstaking, crippled and or pointless without the benefit that watching the ads affords.

You don't have to watch the ads, but you'll never get anywhere in the game if you don't. They're designed that way, and that's incredibly skeezy. Let's not pretend it isn't.

 


 

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