EA got in hot water with fans this weekend as a Reddit post complaining about in-game advertising in a premium paid-for game gained traction. The game in question, EA Sports UFC 4, is a fighting title which sells for approx US$60, so EA choosing to monetise it with full-screens ads really angered the community. EA has thus made a quick U-turn and removed this obtrusive ad integration with a promise that it won't reappear in the future.
UFC 4 was released approximately a month ago, so for obtrusive full-screen ads to appear was a bit of a nasty surprise to early adopters. Additionally this 'feature' wasn't discussed in early reviews of the title, as it was pleasantly absent. The ads, for Amazon show The Boys, were injected into the action replay segments of the game - an integral part of a sports fighting franchise. These video ads blocked out the gameplay being reviewed and were programmed to appear at the beginning / end of the replay segments.
The original complaint post on Reddit has since garnered over 90,000 upvotes. You can see in the user embedded video that the ad briefly flashes up at the beginning of a replay segment, then it flashed up again before you resume gameplay. The 'flash' is quite brief with the name of the show, that it is on Amazon Prime Video, and the premiere date. With such a brief ad flash there is no close box for the ad or other such interactive elements in it. You will notice that the game already contains an ad for 'The Boys' on the fighting ring canvas.
EA decided to add full-on commercials in the middle of gameplay in a $60 game a month after it's release so it wasn't talked about in reviews from r/assholedesign
On Sunday an EA Team Member officially responded to the complaint on Reddit. CoreySA explained that EA turned on ad placements in replay moments in gameplay last week but this kind of advertising isn't new for the UFC franchise. However, CoreySA did go on to add that the unwelcome ads have now been disabled and were not welcome. Last but not least the official apologised for the disruption the ads might have caused and asserted that such ad integration in replays "will not be reappearing in the future".
In a paid-for premium title, which was launched and reviewed without such intrusions, the community reaction has been loud and damning. People power seems to have won this bout, but where will publishers be injecting their ads next?