Players of UFC 4 were greeted by the surprise introduction of advert overlays into the game over the weekend, sparking no small amount of backlash online and forcing EA to U-turn quicker than a UK Education Secretary dishing out dodgy A-level grades. EA have also promised not to reintroduce advertising into the game in future.
The weekend saw UFC 4 featuring adverts in and around replays in the game, an element which had not been present at the game’s launch on 14th August, and coming several weeks after the typical review window for the game had closed. While advertising in games is hardly new – there’s several technologies for it is generally made more subtle in a full-priced release than in a free-to-play game.
However, where billboards in racing games and sidings in football games can be used as advertising space quite naturally, UFC 4’s adverts cut across the actual game in a manner that was perhaps a little too close to broadcast realism for liking. It’s quite excessive, especially when it’s all for a single product.
The Reddit threads garnered thousands of comments and tens of thousands of upvotes, forcing EA to respond and react.
EA’s statement to the press reads:
Earlier this week, the team turned on ad placements in EA SPORTS UFC 4 that appeared during the ‘Replay’ moments in gameplay.
This type of advertising inventory is not new to the UFC franchise, though we have typically reserved displaying ads to specific main menu tiles or Octagon logo placement.
It is abundantly clear from your feedback that integrating ads into the Replay and overlay experience is not welcome. The advertisements have been disabled by the team and we apologize for any disruption to gameplay that players may have experienced.
We realize that this should have been communicated with players ahead of time and that’s on us. We want to make sure our players have the best possible experience playing EA SPORTS UFC 4, so ad integration in the Replay and overlay experience will not be reappearing in the future.
Thank you for your continued feedback on EA SPORTS UFC 4.
Aside from this kerfuffle, the game has actually been a positive step forward for the franchise, incrementally building on the ideas of UFC 3 and removing strange game modes like Ultimate Team – for once there were fewer microtransactions in a sports game. In our UFC 4 review, Aran wrote:
“UFC 4 is an evolution over UFC 3. A much better and more cohesive online, a better system for advancing your created fighters, a career mode that has a bit more depth, and gameplay that opens up the series to more people, makes UFC 4 the game that UFC 3 should have been.”