Insights Committees of Advertising Practice publish advice note on video game advertising


CAP notes that there are many rules that might come into play when advertising video games, from ensuring appropriate targeting to avoiding misleading gameplay imagery.

Advertising placement

CAP says that complaints about violent or sexual content in ads for video games often arise when the ads appear in untargeted or poorly targeted media (such as posters or unrestricted internet sites). Marketers should therefore be mindful of where ads will appear and note that posters, especially those outside or close to schools, might be considered particularly unsuitable for certain types of content.

In untargeted media, marketers should be careful to ensure any imagery, even when reflective of the content of the game, is not excessively violent, sexual or graphic. As a general rule when depicting weapons, marketers should avoid pointing them directly or aggressively at the audience. Those types of images can often be seen as threatening and may be considered to cause unnecessary fear and distress.

Age-restricting website content to over 18s and limiting its availability via specific channels will go a long way to ensuring that the content has been targeted responsibly, CAP says. Marketers should always use any tools available and take all reasonable steps to ensure ads are served to the right audience.

Care should also be taken to target ads within games. Marketers should also remember that there are specific targeting requirements for age restricted products such as alcohol, food, gambling and e-cigarettes, that apply equally to ads within videogames as they do in any other media.

Accuracy is key

Marketers should ensure that any visuals in an ad act as an accurate representation of the game being advertised.

However, content and context are important and there may be some features and components of a game that are unlikely to affect a consumer’s decision to make a purchase. There may also be other extenuating circumstances that will impact on visuals being replicated by players. As such, considerations like this will always be made on a case-by-case. To read the advice note in full, click here.