What just happened? EA’s money-grabbing tactics are no secret in the gaming industry, but the company sank to new lows recently after it decided to display full-screen ads during ‘Replay’ moments in the latest Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC 4) game. What made it worse was that EA decided to show these ads a month after the title’s release, by which point many players had bought the $60 game based on initial impressions and reviews. Soon after complaints flooded the internet, EA apologized over the situation and has since removed the ads from the game.
EA seems to have figured out that putting full-on commercials in the middle of a $60 video game doesn’t sit well with gamers. While licensing agreements with major sports brands like FIFA, Madden, and NBA have forced gamers to accept whatever comes their way, it looks like even EA realized it went too far after the company started showing ads for Amazon’s ‘The Boys’ during replays in UFC 4.
Released on August 14, 2020, UFC 4 didn’t originally have in-game ads, save for placements in the main menu and the Octagon logo on stage, something which EA notes isn’t new to the UFC franchise. This time, however, the company decided to show full-screen ads a month after the game’s launch, essentially preventing the feature from being mentioned in reviews so that players could have been informed ahead of their purchase.
The change, initially posted on Reddit in r/assholedesign had amassed over 90K upvotes, where it was joined by other users calling out EA for its cash-grabbing antics. Soon after the backlash, the company responded by permanently removing the ad from the game.
“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.” EA also blamed itself for not communicating the change with players ahead of time and noted that ads in UFC 4’s replay and overlays would not be reappearing in the future.