The UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld an objection over a television advert for the Xbox 360 version of Final Fantasy XIII, ruling that the ad breached codes against misleading advertising and must not be broadcast again in its current form. A viewer had complained that the ad was misleading because the game footage used was taken from the PlayStation 3 version of the game and not the Xbox 360 version.
In response to the objection, Square Enix said the ad did not feature gameplay footage taken from a particular console version, but instead used full-motion video cutscenes. The Japanese publisher argued that the FMVs were not generated by either console's game engine but were played back on the PS3 console to let advertisers capture the FMV footage for the ad in question. The footage could have been captured on any device, said Square Enix, and was not content generated by a particular console.
In assessing the complaint against the Final Fantasy XIII ad, the ASA noted that the viewer, who saw the ad in high definition, was concerned that images from the PS3 version were sharper than those on the Xbox 360. The ASA reports that it "tested the two games, on screens with an identical setup and ran them alongside one another. We noted there was a discernable difference in the picture quality of the two; the PS3 image in video sequences appeared sharper and colours were more vivid than those of the Xbox 360."
The ASA concluded that the Final Fantasy XIII ad for Xbox 360 version "should have featured footage derived from that console," in spite of Square Enix's defence regarding FMV capture. It ruled that the ad was misleading "because we considered that the use of PS3 footage in the ad exaggerated the quality of the footage available on the Xbox 360, albeit marginally."
The ruling comes five months after the American and European release. During that time the graphical differences between the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions, and the compression required to fit the game onto the Xbox's three DVDs rather than the PS3's single Blu-ray disc, have been much discussed. Before the game's release, Square Enix had faced criticism for presenting altered PlayStation 3 screenshots as Xbox 360 screenshots for the game; afterwards, the publisher apologised for what was called a "mistake" and released screenshots taken from the Xbox 360 version.
In its response to the ASA's investigation, Square Enix had said that both versions of Final Fantasy XIII "had been designed for output in the same resolution" and "were comparable in terms of quality." The publisher "believed there was no substantive difference in the output of the game, except in very high definition where they may be subtle differences due to the hardware upon which the footage was viewed." Only a viewer who was "reviewing the materially forensically" would notice a difference, said the publisher.
Clearcast, the body that pre-approves most TV advertising in the UK, said that before approving the ad it had been assured there was no difference between the two versions. Like Square Enix, it believed that "it would be unlikely that an average viewer would be able to discern whether footage originated from the PS3 or Xbox 360 format," since the ad was compressed into a standard-definition format for broadcast.