British watchdog repels COD 2's ad-vances

UK advertising regulatory body bans Activision's TV promos for Call of Duty 2 games because graphics were "misleading."

Selling a product is never easy, particularly in a burgeoning, crowded market where the competition is fierce. This is particularly true in the gaming industry, where flashy graphics and movie licenses are often enough to make a game successful. At last year's E3, the line between "hyping a game" and "duping an audience" was blurred thanks to the latest in product promotion--the "tech demo."

The Killzone 2 trailer, shown at Sony's E3 press conference, was a prime example of "tech demo" confusion. The trailer displayed jaw-dropping graphics, but presented them as though they were actual in-game footage. Controversy rose in the fallout, when gamers asked if the trailer was prerendered (strictly scripted computer graphics) or running from the game's engine (dynamic rendering based on the user's actions).

While there's still debate about that, there's no debate about recent television ads for Activision's two Call of Duty 2 games, Call of Duty 2 for the Xbox 360 and Call of Duty 2: Big Red One for the PlayStation 2, GameCube, and Xbox. The ads, which have appeared on major cable networks, depict the game's nature--namely, that World War II was extremely intense.

The commercial's point of view is that of a WWII soldier, and largely mimics the in-game viewpoints of the first-person shooters. Scenes show soldiers scampering through a war-torn Europe, with explosions, tanks, and planes a part of the action. To most average gamers, the ads are clearly cutscenes and aren't actual gameplay. However, not everyone who watches late-night TV is the average gamer.

The Advertising Standards Authority, a UK-based independent body that governs over the country's advertising codes, has banned the ads because it has received three complaints. Three viewers felt that the games' ads were "misleading because the quality of the graphics in the ad were [sic] superior to that of the game itself."

In the ASA's weekly adjudication report, the body states that Activision felt using prerendered scenes in ads for games was standard practice, and that the company had acted in good faith. However, no one told the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre, which cleared the ads for broadcast after believing the footage was from the game itself.

The report concludes by sternly stating "The ads breached CAP TV Advertising Standards Codes rules 5.1 (Misleading advertising) and 5.2.2 (Implications). They must not be shown again in their present forms." The ads will continue to run in other regions.

This isn't the first time that an Activision ad has been brought to the attention of the ASA. In 2005, a promo for Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction (which Activision published in the UK) received dozens of complaints for "gratuitous violence" and "the use of the word 'hell.'" The complaints were not upheld, and the ad was permitted to run.

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Discussion

71 comments
dam_swedon
dam_swedon

as i am from the uk i have to say we are very strict about what we show like even a gta san Andres ad did not once have a swear word or words like hell/ dam.

snyper16
snyper16

Every gamemaker does it (except for Team Ninja), so whats the big deal.

david_critic
david_critic

It's amazing how stupid people are getting these days...I mean come on who would actually think those were in-game graphics seriously?

GameFreak463
GameFreak463

Don't know if anyone has mentioned Baten Kaitos, can't flick through the pages for some reason o_O, but that for me was the most misleading ad I've seen. One great CG ad. The one and ONLY CG footage in the whole game. Very misleading.

miguelpalazzo
miguelpalazzo

Bah! Who cares? They're buying and playing the game a lot hehe

gaggle64
gaggle64

This sort of false advertising through implication is positively insidious. Good to see advertising standards haven't fallen.

hush404
hush404

Pfft I glad they did that. The game doesn't look anything like the footage shown in the commercial and when your selling a product, it can be see as misleading. The example of the Killzone footage is a reach because it was merely eyecandy, it wasn't selling the finished product.

Seraphim_24
Seraphim_24

I can't tell you how dissapointed I was with Final Fantasy VII after those amazing CG commercials. The game still rocked, but I think use of CG in commercials does tend to set unrealistic expectations, and developers/publishers should at least consider a fine print with an * which has "Not actual game play footage" after it.

santana4064
santana4064

Interesting, but why ban the comercial? if you don't like it dont watch it!!!

SGTMUS
SGTMUS

yes, yes, us brits are very serious about this things.......that was sarcasm byt the way.

KiLLer_ba
KiLLer_ba

Only 3 complaints, these gamers must been very angry when they got the game.

kaito2
kaito2

No offense to my friends on the other side of the Atlantic, but THREE people making a complaint is grounds for banning an ad? Maybe the N**is actually won WW2?

NinjaFoot
NinjaFoot

I have been saying ever since I saw those CoD2 Big Red One ads that your average joe gamer will think that is what the in-game graphics for the game will look like. Pretty cheap tactics Activision. I guess I wasn't the only person who noticed it.

deadone1000
deadone1000

the problem comes from the first person perspective, they shot that advert to make it look like the players point of view, i remember when i fisrt saw it i couldnt work out whether that was real game play or prerendered n then 2 sec later he looked over the side n i was like "ohh :( "

Khimarhi
Khimarhi

that's just about every game that comes out. . they don't show the actual graphics they show cg movies of them

Kfoss
Kfoss

point less..... why would buy a a game baised off a commerical...ARRGGG TOO MANY STUPID PEOPLE ON THIS PLANET!!!!!!

runstalker
runstalker

Or like - add a caption saying: "Actual in-game graphics may vary" PRESTO - they're off the hook. But no...they went for the 1st person CG cinematics + 360 logo for the big double whammy boner effect, and people fly into the stores to pick 'em up. Face it everyone, in a general public naivitee sense, the lack of fine print disclaimer + 1st person perspective is kind of potentially deceitful.

majere613
majere613

The reason that this one has got banned it that it used the exact same first-person perspective as the game itself, which has been ruled to be misleading. A lot of other game adds use CGI, but usually in a way in which its clear even to a non-gamer that they're looking at non-interactive graphics. But the CoD2 add tries- or seems to be trying- to look like in-game footage without a disclaimer to the contrary. The number of complaints in these cases is irrelevant, as soon as a complaint is made the authority checks if the complaint is valid. If it is, action is taken. It's pretty good legislation, IMHO, and it's set a precedent that other game companies would do well to take note of.

briandap
briandap

Like I always say, any game that only shows cutscenes or "environmental shots" is hiding something.

xmystakalx
xmystakalx

They're not the only ones to do this. SCEA did it with God of War as well as many others. They're just ignorant.

runstalker
runstalker

Know what? EVERY non-gamer I've been with over the last 3 months when that commercial airs -- they ALL say either: "Wow, good graphics on that game" or "Are those really the graphics?" I swear, EVERY person says this. And every time I respond with the same thing: "No, those were not images from the game. None of it. The game looks nice but it still looks like a video game. That commercial was made like Toy Story or Finding Nemo." And they go, "Ahh." or "Well that's a bit misleading". And it's so true. You know why they're confused? 'Cause the commercial ends with an XBOX 360 logo. They think maybe, just maybe the Xbox 360 is that amazing...like a new sports car or something. Don't h8 on the general public; hate the ad not the playa. *zip

NeoJedi
NeoJedi

What I don't get is, why would non-gamers complain about the graphics not being true to the real game? What do they care anyways? And if gamers don't know the difference, well, I'm sorry, but they shouldn't be gaming in the first place.

FuguNabe
FuguNabe

Couldn't care less as I hardly watch TV... gameplay footage goes a long way though when ti comes to informing comsumers of the game. Cutscenes alone doesn't do much for my interest as it informs me little of the game and how I might enjoy it. I don't buy the game for just cutscene but the total experience so ads shouldn't confuse more gullible cunsumers with just cutscenes.... truely misleading. I kinda agree with the ban.

Tomtomtom1990
Tomtomtom1990

Yeah, I got pretty mad when I saw that stupid ad in school one day (we watch some stupid educational show for 10 minutes every day). My idiot classmates were like; "DUDE! LOOK AT THOSE GRAPHICS! OMG!". I'm just sick of seeing these commercials that are %100 CG, becuase you feel like you're being lied to. I've thought about suing for false advertisement numerous times. Glad to see these liars are finally being put to justice. "Aw man, now we have to show what our game ACTUALLY LOOKS LIKE. Looks like I'll have to sell my million dollar Enzo Ferrari. Darn.

cyprus646
cyprus646

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

ufopuller
ufopuller

CRAP!! just more restriction. Can't those people just let us play out games

ebonyflame
ebonyflame

Sucks to be them. This may sound corny but back in my day, the golden era of gaming (8-32 bit gaming), game commercials used more in game footage.

kappachan
kappachan

Maybe they bought an Xbox 360, but then used a standard composite cable to a non-HD TV.

peterles
peterles

yea, i saw the comercial, and i know that it wasent actual gameplay, the game itself is was good, they should just show actual gameplay, instead of looking all clownish. come on activition

dawooten
dawooten

COD graphics are awesome, that have no idea what they are talking about

Omega-Protoman
Omega-Protoman

Funny I didn't know that companies were required to show footage from their game in the commercials in the UK or anywhere else for that matter. Guess they will be required to now.

bonejester
bonejester

So, it's banned because it dupes people who don't realize it is a cut scene, meaning people who don

CloudFFVIIAC
CloudFFVIIAC

limitedinfinity I don't understand how they can be assaulting COD2, if the commercial doesnt' say "actual in-game footage." I don't see the big deal. people usually assume it's "In game footage", unless stated otherwise

GreyFoxV1
GreyFoxV1

"Dirty_old_bum COUGH "EA" COUGH" Ditto

Tidusy2k
Tidusy2k

It doesn't matter if they only got 3 complaints. The jerry spinger opera got around 50,000 complaints yet no action was took against it. Though i am suprised its banned though.

GastaS
GastaS

Because it has received three complaints. Three viewers felt that the games' ads were "misleading because the quality of the graphics in the ad were [sic] superior to that of the game itself." ProBably Sony fanboys jealous about xbox360. If they keep that politic we won't see PS3 advertisings! They are all prerendered, heheheheheh

blackIceJoe
blackIceJoe

How can three people say that I think they maybe have not picked it up.It is a great game I love it on my 360.Plus it did well at the holiday season it was in the top 10 for most games sold at that time.Even though the 360 did not have that many systems on the market it did awesome.I think if they where to pick it up they would like and if they still think it is bad.I think they do not like video games.

Kounji
Kounji

The funny thing is they advertise games only really for the general public. Most people I think that buy game either read about them in magazines check stuff on the web all day or learn about them through friends. I mean I would almost conclude that world of warcraft really never even needed to advertise to tell you the truth. So I really don't know how far reaching ads like on tv really are. Still I think graphics in games are good enough now that they should be able to show gameplay unlike in the old days when games really did look like crap.

pie4u
pie4u

all it took was three people???? You have to be kidding me. if that was all it took in the US 99% of the comercials would be banded just from the people in my family. The UK should rethink their ASA if that was all it took

Goze
Goze

Ack, I'm a little bit tired of all the kind of lame pun headlines... =(

boyinabox
boyinabox

Sure the advert gives unrealistic impressions about the quality of the graphics when seen by the average person but how come we still have commercials for makeup then? Anyway I think its a shame considering those adverts where the best ones on TV, the UK needs better game commercials!

tenorio_rotc
tenorio_rotc

The ads are misleading and it is annoying to see an ad like that. Most of us here would know it is not gameplay but really, that is what bugs me about it. People that dont know are suckered in like the story says and those of us that do know its not gameplay are annoyed because they try to pass it off as looking that good and we dont get to see what it really looks like.

WhatRuOn
WhatRuOn

Publishers have been doing this for a long time. Why such a big deal now? But who cares I hope they run EA out of business.