The Deceptive Advertisements for Mobile Games Are Becoming More Cynical

The original fake mobile ads have always seemed strange to me. They never promise anything particularly sophisticated, and in fact one developer even made the metal bars game for real, so it’s odd that there is any deception at play. Some of these rely on a strange narrative hook, like the simple match three game advertised with murdering grannies and Pedro Pascal wandering an abandoned house, or the toad who drinks golden liquid from the base of a feminine statue, but mostly they just show you a mildly fun game that they aren’t actually offering.

Advertising Has Always Been The Art Of Lying. Obviously, the main point of these games is not to be played at all. If you’ve ever been curious enough to download one, you’ll have been hit by two banner ads and a video ad on the home screen, then another ad when you start playing, then an ad after every level and each time you die, followed by unskippable ads to decrease your cooldown time.

There’s something to admire in this deception – it’s an honest dishonesty, showing you a cheap, mass produced advert to sell several different shovelware mimics that only exist as framing for an endless reel of commercials. It’s good old fashioned lying. This new era finds a way to be even less truthful.

There is part of me that feels my Millennial bones creaking as I write this. For as long as adverts have existed, so have spokespeople. That guy in the insurance advert doesn’t really think Qwingos Insurance is the best in the world, he’s just an actor they paid to say that.

Gigi Hadid doesn’t really drink full sugar Coca-Cola while making pasta with her ethnically diverse friend group – it’s just a commercial. But these feel different. Streamers are already selective with how much they disclose sponsorships, and often seem to want the credibility and access of journalists with the lowered responsibility and bigger audience base of entertainers.

When a celebrity says a soft drink is the best, we know they’re being paid to say that. It speaks to a shift in audience appeal. With celebrity endorsements, they only work if you know the celebrity (and thus know how selective they are with endorsements, and what their values are).

They’re just actors in headphones reading a script about a gacha game. These games probably aren’t great, and the adverts are so dull and wooden that they’re unlikely to convince many people to buy them (I’d be more tempted by the multiplying soldiers). Success doesn’t even seem to be a factor.

Call me old fashioned, but I prefer Michael Jordan trying to sell me a Burger King.

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