EA Sports have disabled some in-game advertising in EA Sports UFC 4 that was added two weeks after launch, after “feedback” showed it was not welcome.
On September 4th Reddit users posted a video [1, 2] of adverts appearing in-game. Aside from sponsorship dotted around the octagon (much like real UFC octagons), a transition between replays and gameplay has the logo and premiere date for a TV show appear. This is also akin to real-life UFC broadcasting. The advert also appeared on the UI, above the match’ time-clock.
Aside from being a $60 video game (and in-game adverts typically being seen in free-to-play games), the original poster and commentators theorized that the adverts did not appear during reviews to prevent being mentioned.
If the in-game adverts are based on dealings between EA Sports and other companies (as evidenced by advertising a TV show with a then upcoming premiere date) it makes sense any such “sponsorship deal” would not begin until the game was first sold. However, the adverts seem to begin around two weeks after the game’s launch; August 14th.
This quickly drove down the game’s user score on Metacritic. This was 3.3 out of 10 from 36 ratings on Xbox One, and 2.4 on 194 ratings on PlayStation 4. As previously reported; EA Sports’ Madden NFL 21 recently became the lowest user-rated game on Metacritic. It should be noted that Metacritic’s user reviews do not verify if a user has completed or played a game.
An EA Team Member representative replied to one of these threads, explaining that in-game adverts were not new to UFC. Wall Street Journal reports these had appeared in EA Sports UFC 3 in July as a “test.”
It should be noted this was likely unnoticed due to the game being launched in 2018, and would almost have gone entirely unnoticed. Wall Street Journal also reported “an Electronic Arts spokeswoman declined to comment.”
The EA Team Member stated that due to the “abundantly clear” feedback that adverts in replays were not welcome (with both Reddit posts attracting a lot of attention, comments, and badges gifted by the community), the in-game adverts during replays have now been disabled.
“I’m part of the Community team here at EA and I wanted to post here and give you all an update on this situation. 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.”
In 2019, EA Sports also drew ire for unskippable in-game ads in NBA 2K19. This featured full-blown trailers. In 2012 Sony filed an infamous patent for in-game advertising, including needing to stand-up and shout out the product or brand’s name to skip the advert.