Opinion | Oh my god, please stop the excessive ads on mobile games!


I am a person who constantly needs entertainment and mental stimulation. Maybe that’s a fun little trait of my generation, or maybe it’s an underlying issue that I should probably get diagnosed, but I know I’m not alone when I’m downloading mindless mobile games.

During breaks and vacations, I like to download what I call “my stupid little apps” to fill my free time. It gives me something to do on the plane, in the car or when I just don’t feel like talking anymore. This past Thanksgiving break was no exception. I downloaded three silly games while sitting at my grandparents house and played them all week long. I’ve noticed one thing that’s been making me more frustrated than my mountain of homework over the last few weeks – all the in-game ads.

Although I remember a time before the Apple iTouch and When my dad was the only one with a BlackBerry phone, I’m essentially a kid who grew up alongside technology. I’m no stranger to advertising. I see – get your coin! You deserve to make these silly little games to fill my free time. However, for the love of all that is good, please stop the excessive advertising. It’s unbearable.

Since I will most likely get in trouble if I make a certain game nameless, I will not do such a thing. Just know that I really want it so I can tell you all to stay away.

I remember on the break I downloaded this one game where you look for clues and tools to solve a problem. Once you figure it out, you’ll get coins for buying outfits and furniture. As with many games that contain ads, it would ask me if I wanted to double my winnings by watching an ad once I reached the level. Who has time for this? I want to play another level, so I select the “No thanks” button. A lot of logical people would think the game would just take me to the next level, but of course it doesn’t. An ad would play.

Now you might be thinking, “Didn’t she hit the ‘no thanks’ button?” And yes, I did. I may not be able to see without my glasses, but I can assure you that I was able to see the full screen of the phone in front of me. After the 30 to 60 second ad that I laboriously sorted through, I didn’t even get double the payout the ad promised.

This isn’t even the first app to have an ad play no matter what key I press. It wasn’t even some sort of game where you watch ads to play it. These types of games, where an ad appears with a mere touch, have become so commonplace that I think I’ve seen every possible ad. Fake TikTok video? Check. Will the wedding be crashed by a player with a higher score than the groom? Check. Casino overrun by angry players? Check.

And please don’t get me started with ads that show features of a game that aren’t like the game at all. Again, I would do name-drop. I will abstain. I know what the ads show is not what the game actually is when downloaded. You don’t save a character facing a huge boulder by getting three hits in a row. You’re not saving a couple in a desert desperate to find water. You don’t help a poor girl covered in mud by giving her a shower.

A article von Steemit talks about these ads, calling them “forced ads,” which is exactly what they are. The author talks about the good old days when microtransactions overtook mobile games and how he wishes they would still overwhelm us instead of the insane amount of ads. Now these mobile apps have excessive ads and microtransactions at the same time. You can’t have both! The article concludes that these ads are ruining the mobile gaming experience, and honestly I’m inclined to agree.

Now I’ll admit that I find a lot of the silly little games I download through those silly ads. Advertising is important – it generates revenue for the app and lets people know about new games that might interest them. I don’t think mobile game developers should remove ads entirely, but rather pull them back… a lot. When I keep seeing an ad for a game, I know I’m definitely not downloading it out of spite.

These forced ads bother people playing a game, and if you’re impatient like me, they will most likely make them delete it, thus making the developers less money in the long run. If ads were scarce or if players could choose when to see ads, the mobile gaming experience would be so much better. People are more likely to watch ads for incentives, thereby earning creators even more money. It’s all about balance. When a game is 90% advertising, it might be best to pull that number way, way, way back.

Livia LaMarca writes primarily about American political discourse and pop culture. Write to her [email protected].