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EA, Miniclip, Jagex loot box ads broke UK advertising rules

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority has warned Electronic Arts, Miniclip and Jagex not to violate rules around promoting titles with loot boxes after upholding complaints against three of their titles.

All three complaints were submitted by an academic research that specialises in game regulation, who challenged the ads because they knew the games includes in-game purchases — including loot boxes with randomised items — but this information was not included.

The complainant argued the ads were misleading because the omission of this disclosure influenced consumers’ transactional decisions.

Upon further review, the ASA upheld all three complaints, citing guidance from the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) that states the presence of in-game purchasing — and particularly randomised mechanics such as loot boxes — should be made clear in any ads.

EA, Miniclip and Jagex were each instructed not to release these ads in the form that prompted the complaints, and to ensure that future ads disclosed the presence of in-game purchases, including loot boxes.

Each case serves as a different type of cautionary tale, so it’s perhaps worth diving into them in a little more depth.

Electronic Arts

The complaint against EA referred to two paid-for Facebook ads promoting Playdemic’s free-to-play mobile game Golf Clash.

The first was spotted by the complainant in August 2023 and centred around the launch of the game’s web store, encouraging players to check out deals and log in for a daily login bonus quest, as well as a reward of virtual currency for anyone who signed up to the game’s newsletter.

The second, published in September 2023, promoted a Tour Championship in-game event, with the message that any leftover balls after a player reaches ‘Gold Prestige’ would be converted into ‘Generation Tokens.’

When contacted by the ASA, EA said the ads were published by mistake before the disclosure regarding in-game purchases had been added. The publisher told the organisation that it has an internal policy of ensuring all ads for relevant titles includes the text “Includes optional in-game purchases (including random times).”

EA emphasised that the omission of this disclosure was “a result of human error and was not representative of the standard policies and practices they had in place to ensure their ads were compliant,” according to the ASA.

EA said the ads were removed and the error has been resolved.

In its comments, the ASA said that while it recognised advertising a web store makes it clear purchases are present in the game, the ad did not disclose the presence of loot boxes, meaning the information included in the ad was not sufficient to ensure consumers understood the potential transactional decisions they would make.

Meanwhile, the ad for the tournament did not mention any purchases at all.

“We acknowledged that ads (a) and (b) were published without the disclosure about in-game purchases and loot boxes that was prescribed by the advertiser’s internal policy as a result of human error and we welcomed the advertiser’s engagement with the CAP Code and guidance,” the ASA wrote.

“Nonetheless, because ad (a) did not make clear that the webstore included loot boxes, and ad (b) did not make clear that the game included in-game purchases or loot boxes, we concluded that the ads misleadingly omitted material information.”


Miniclip’s case involved a paid-for Facebook ad for 8 Ball Pool, spotted by the complainant on September 26, 2023, which ended with the words ‘Play free now’ and included a link to the Apple App Store.

The complainant asserted that the presence of loot boxes should have been disclosed in the ad, and therefore Miniclip was misleading potential customers.

Miniclip’s response to the ASA was that because the game does not require users to purchase anything in order to play and progress, no material information had been omitted.

However, it did confirm the ad had been withdrawn and that future ads will include this information.

The ASA emphasised that CAP guidance states the presence of in-game purchasing, especially loot boxes, “was material to a consumer’s decision to purchase or download a game.”

Since the availability of such purchases was not made clear in the ad, the organisation concluded that this promotion “misleadingly omitted material information.”


The complaint against Jagex was particularly interesting. The case focused on a paid-for Facebook ad for RuneScape seen in September 2023 that highlighted the new Necromancy combat style.

However, the complainant argued that since there are in-game purchases, including loot boxes, in RuneScape, this ad was still misleading.

In RuneScape’s case, loot boxes are primarily found in a mini-game called Treasure Hunter, where players can use keys to open chests. Keys can be either earned through gameplay, or purchased with real-word or virtual currency, and the item inside the chest is random.

Jagex stressed that the ad was about the new Necromancy skill, not Treasure Hunter, and that it has made disclosures clear around that mini-game.

The ad linked to a landing page, which does state the presence of in-game purchases and loot boxes, and the footer of this landing page features three PEGI labels, including the one for in-game purchases plus the text “In-game purchases (includes random items).”

The webpage explaining the Treasure Hunter mini-game also includes these labels, and the terms and conditions linked at the bottom also include information about virtual currencies and mini-game credits.

Jagex’s argument was that the landing page accessed through the ad contained sufficient information about in-game purchases and loot boxes to make consumers aware of their presence, and that the Facebook ad itself was “constrained by time and space,” according to the ASA.

However, the ASA disagreed.

“Although we acknowledged that the presence of in-game purchases and random item purchases were disclosed once the consumer clicked through to the landing page, we considered that the ad itself did not include information which made that clear to consumers,” the organisation wrote.

“Transactional decisions encompassed a wide range of decisions made by the consumer in relation to a product and their decision of whether, how and on what terms to make a purchase. The decision to click through to the RuneScape website (including, in this case, by clicking a button labelled ‘Play Game’) from the ad was a transactional decision in relation to downloading the game, and we considered that consumers were not provided with information that was material to that decision.”

The ASA added that the recommended character length for Facebook posts — 125 characters in the primary text field, 40 in the headline, and 25 in the description — “were not sufficiently limiting” and did not prevent Jagex from adding the text “In-game purchases (includes random items)

Finally, the ASA added that the video featured in the ad, which showed off gameplay for the new combat skill, did not display the relevant PEGI labels.

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