Players who booted up UFC 4 over Labor Day weekend were in for a bit of a shock when they were forced to sit through full-screen TV commercials in order to play their $60 game.
EA’s UFC 4 launched on August 14. In an apparent effort to keep the feature out of official reviews of the game, EA did not enable the obtrusive advertisements for the Amazon Prime Video series The Boys until after the game’s launch. (The Boys is very good and should in no way be implicated in EA’s crimes.)
AAA — While players have reluctantly gotten used to various forms of in-game advertising — especially in sports titles where banner or canvas ads often naturally appear in real life — actually interrupting the gameplay of a $60 title in order to push more products on them is particularly egregious.
Back in July, it was reported by the Wall Street Journal that AT&T’s WarnerMedia pushed three advertisements of this style to UFC 3 to promote its television properties Rick & Morty, Snowpiercer, and The Match. Because that game had been released in 2018, most of the fanbase had not been active on it and the stunt went unnoticed.
Upvote — After a Reddit post about the issue went viral (with, as of this writing, 91.8k upvotes in the subreddit r/assholedesign), EA finally responded to the backlash and announced that it would no longer be selling such inventory.
In a statement on Reddit, EA said:
"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."
Knockout — It should go without saying that these kind of intrusions into video games are completely unwelcome. For $60 a pop, players should, at minimum, expect not to have their gameplay interrupted by ads that aren’t even subsidizing the upfront cost of their game. It should be noted that EA was once voted the “Worst Company in America” by consumers, shattering the record for number of votes received. It has since regularly appeared on the list next to Fox News, The Trump Organization, and insurance companies like Cigna.