EA has disabled in-game ads from EA Sports UFC 4 after an intense backlash.
A thread posted on Reddit quickly went viral for pointing out that EA added commercials in the middle of gameplay. As of the writing of this article a day later, it has amassed almost 91,000 votes. The advertisements appear at the beginning and end of replays. While quite brief, it is nonetheless a series of advertisements for the new Amazon TV Show The Boys. The clip appears three times throughout the video — once at the beginning of the replay, once at the end, and once at the bottom of the screen during active gameplay. The advertisement also appears in the form of an engravement on the floor of the ring.
As the thread’s title points out, these advertisements were added a few weeks after the game’s release on Aug. 14, 2020. As such, journalists and critics weren’t aware this would happen when they wrote their reviews. It’s likely many of those reviews would’ve called out this practice, which, although not a new concept, is in poor taste for some. EA Sports UFC 4 is priced at $60. While some players would be fine with the inclusion of advertisements if this was a free-to-play game, they feel this is too opportunistic and a clear display of greed.
EA has responded to the backlash and decided to disable the advertisements. In a press statement to Eurogamer, 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.
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This controversy has reminded many players of EA’s infamous controversy with Star Wars Battlefront II. The game’s progressive system heavily incentivized players to spend real money in a game that was already riddled with microtransactions and loot boxes. Back then, EA responded to the massive backlash with what is one of the most downvoted posts in Reddit history.