EA pulls UFC 4 in-game commercials after massive backlash

Advertisements have been around since the earliest days of mass media and they have reviled just as long. While some ads can be tasteful, ingenious, and even entertaining, most are just “in your face” attempts to grab consumers’ attention. While those have more or less been accepted facts of life in some media, like print and the Web, other channels actually have ways to make consumers’ voices be heard, something that EA Games learned the hard way in its latest attempt to put full-on commercials in the middle of a video game.

EA didn’t put a full-screen video ad smack in the middle of an EA Sports UFC 4 bout, otherwise it would have deserved a lawsuit more than just an angry mob. The game publisher isn’t new to putting ads in its games either, the UFC franchise included, but has limited those to the main menu and Octagon logos. For some reason, however, some bright mind thought it would be a good idea to pop up an ad at one part of the game, with obviously disastrous results.

What happened was that players were treated to an admittedly brief spot for Amazon TV’s The Boys during a segment of the game’s Replay mode. It didn’t pause the Replay, mind, which meant it basically covered the recap of the game’s previous round, almost some splash you’d see on a UFC match on TV. The Redditor also noted that EA only pulled this stunt a month after reviews were in, otherwise it would have probably been burned much earlier. The appearance of The Boys’ ad coincided with the advertising campaigning leading up to the show’s second season premiere.

Such brief ad flashes might be normal and unavoidable when watching a real UFC match on TV but gamers who paid $60 for the game believed they didn’t deserve to be treated to that same experience. They definitely let their disapproval known and EA backtracked and removed the ad and promised it won’t be putting ads into Replay and overlays in the future.

This isn’t EA’s first in-game advertising misstep, though, and it was reported to have been experimenting with this type of ads back in July with UFC 3. And with the big money to be made from the billion-dollar gaming business, you can be sure it won’t be the last either.

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