The United Kingdom's Advertising Standards Authority has officially banned the advertising used by EA in the marketing of their iOS version of Dungeon Keeper. The game, which had become notorious for its underhanded tactics in squeezing micro-transactions from consumers, will now have to be advertised under less "misleading" terms.
The original ad read:
GET DUNGEON KEEPER ON MOBILE FOR FREE! ... DIG. DEVISE. DOMINATE. Build the most badass dungeon ever! Raise an army of diabolical minions and lay twisted traps to destroy any opponents foolish enough to set foot in your lair. MASTER THE HAND OF EVIL Cast powerful spells, pillage and plunder other players' dungeons, and slap your imps around to make them work harder. A world of wicked fun is right at your fingertips. What are you waiting for, Keeper? Get it for FREE!
Apparently EA had been trying to make it clear to the ASA that it was possible to advance in the game without paying for the various currencies that can help a player progress. However, the ASA said in their response that, "from the information available in the ad, players would expect the gameplay progression and their ability to advance to be unhindered by unexpected and excessively onerous delays, and we therefore considered that the length and frequency of these countdown events was beyond that which would be reasonably expected by players."
EA vehemently defended themselves in their response to the ASA's initial investigation, citing other games that employ the same tactics, as well as data indicating that people who opted not to spend money in the game were not necessarily progressing at a slower rate than those who did.
However, the case wasn't a question of what was happening within the game. It was about how it was being sold to consumers. On this count, the ASA believed that EA had been disingenuous with their marketing.