Why are Mobile Game Ads so Misleading?

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Have you seen mobile game ads that look simple and casual, and only to be hugely disappointed when a different game pops up upon downloading it? Yeah, that’s a common bait-and-switch scam, just in the form of mobile game ads. One can only ponder – why do mobile game developers do this, isn’t it better to just make the game that they are advertising?

The answer is no. And here’s why mobile game ads are misleading yet so effective.

Fake Mobile Gaming Ads are Frustrating to Watch

It is no secret that titles like Homescapes, Last Fortress, Hustle Castle etc. are not the only ones who employ such tactics to get people to play their games.

Typically, the ad will show a short snippet of the puzzle-style game. The game mechanics are easy to understand, but it will be played by someone who has probably never played a game in their lives (kinda like Polygon’s DOOM gameplay back in 2016).

Alternatively, these fake ads might show a simple and almost patronising puzzle, with a caption that would go like “Can you solve this? Boom. IQ 180.”

Both styles of ads appeal strongly to people with insecurities, and serve as a call to action to download the game, to prove that they can beat the puzzles with ease. 

Of course, only to realise that the games are completely different from advertised.

In short, fake gaming ads make people feel “smart” for playing the game. On the flip side, the actual games do the opposite – people feel “stupid” for getting mildly interested with a nonproductive non social activity on their phone, thus a lower conversion rate 

Highly Effective to Show Hyper Casual Game Shorts

To build on the point above, every hyper-casual game can target people from 8 to 88 years old. Hyper casual games are known to have a mass-market appeal (remember flappy bird?) due to 2 reasons: the simplistic gameplay and minimalist design. 

What hyper-casual games aim to do is to make user onboarding as effortlessly as possible, so that players immediately understand how to play it, even without a tutorial.

With clear win outlooks and achievable goals in the game, players are promised instant gratification if they were to download and play the game right now.

Now, you can’t do the same with games like clash of clans right?

Mobile games seem to be stretching the truth further these days. Showing hyper-casual ads to unsuspecting users means hiding the fact that most mobile games in reality are ‘pay-to-win’ or ‘gacha’ in nature.

Although a substantial number of these games do include the hyper-casuals as a minigame in the main title, the sole purpose of including it is to get away with the deceptive practices.

The law simply cannot keep up with such advertising tactics. What can we, as average consumers, do our part in this?

Reporting the ads as not representative and leaving 1 star reviews is the way to go, where it is heartening to know that games like Homescapes had their ads banned eventually

Where to Play the Actual Games on These Ads 

The other solution is to play the actual games from the ads. 

There are actually a ton of these games, created by like-minded developers who were frustrated by the endless fake ads, and we will mention 2 notable ones:

Spoilers – it is incredibly boring to play them, but it is the one-time opportunity to get something out of your system that’s been gnawing at you for years. Speaking of which, you will need to sit through a 30-seconds ad once after every level or two. That is more ad time than game time! 

1. Hero Rescue 

Simply search the keywords and a whole list of “save the princess” style games will populate your mobile screen. 

The original Hero Rescue title has 270 levels of the exact same gameplay displayed in the fake ads. In fact, some of the players have even commented that the challenge of these puzzles don’t even go up until level 100 onwards.

2. Stick Hero: Mighty Tower Wars

Stick Hero features the “climb-the-tower” style puzzle games. Similarly, the gameplay is very simplistic and you can finish the game in just under 2 hours.


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