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

By Livia LaMarca, Senior Staff Columnist

I’m an individual who always needs constant entertainment and mind stimulation. Maybe that’s a fun little characteristic of my generation, or maybe it’s an underlying issue I should probably go get diagnosed, but I know I am not alone in 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 simply no longer feel like talking. This past Thanksgiving break was no exception. I downloaded three stupid games while sitting at my grandparent’s house and proceeded to play them throughout the week. There was one thing I noticed that made me more frustrated than my giant mounds of homework did for the past several weeks — all the in-game advertisements.

While I do remember a period before the Apple iTouch and when my father was the only one with a BlackBerry phone, I am at my core a kid that grew up alongside technology. I am no stranger to advertisements in the slightest. I get it — get your coin! You deserve it for creating these goofy little games to fill my free time. However, for the love of all that is good, please stop the excessive ads. It is unbearable.

Because I will most likely get in trouble from name-dropping any specific game, I will do no such thing. Just know that I really want to so that I can tell you all to stay away.

I remember over break that I downloaded this one game where you hunt for clues and tools to solve a problem. Once you figured it out, you would get coins for buying outfits and furniture. Like many games that feature ads, once I beat the level, it would ask if I wanted to double my win by watching an ad. Who has time for that? I want to play another level so I select the “no thanks” button. Many logical people would think the game would just take me to the next level, but of course not. An ad would play.

Now you might be thinking, “didn’t she press the ‘No Thanks’ button?” And yep, I did. I might not be able to see without my glasses, but I can assure you I was fully able to see the phone screen in front of me. After the 30 to 60 second long ad I tediously sat through, I wouldn’t even get the double payout the ad promised. 

This isn’t even the first app where an ad would play no matter what button I press. It wasn’t even a watch-an-ad-to-play kind of game. These kinds of games, where there is an advertisement after a mere touch, are so commonplace now that I think I’ve seen every single ad possible. Knock-off TikTok video? Check. Wedding getting crashed by a gamer with a higher score than the groom? Check. Casino getting overrun by disgruntled players? Check.

And please do not get me started on the advertisements that show off features of a game that are not even like the game at all. Again, I would name-drop. I will contain myself. I know that what the advertisement is showing off is nothing like what the game actually is when downloaded. You’re not saving a character that has a giant boulder heading their way by getting three matches in a row. You’re not saving a couple in a desert desperately trying to find water. You’re not helping some poor girl covered in mud by giving her a shower.

An article from Steemit talks about these ads, calling them “forced adverts,” which is exactly what they are. The author discusses the good old days when microtransactions overtook mobile games and how he wishes they still overwhelmed us rather than the crazy amount of advertisements. Now, these mobile apps have excessive advertisements and microtransactions simultaneously. You can’t have both! The article comes to the conclusion that these ads are ruining the mobile gaming experience, and honestly, I’m inclined to agree.

Now I will admit that a lot of the stupid little games I download I find through these dumb ads. Advertisements are important — it makes revenue for the app and informs people of new games that might interest them. I don’t think that mobile game developers should remove ads entirely but rather draw them back…a lot. If I see an ad for a game nonstop, I know I’m definitely not downloading it out of spite.

These forced ads get in the way of people playing a game, and if you are as impatient as I am, they will most likely make them delete it and therefore make the developers less money in the long run. If ads are scarce or if the players get to choose when they watch ads, the mobile gaming experience would be so much better. People are more likely to watch ads for incentives and as a result make the creators even more money. It’s all about balance. If a game is 90% ads, it might be best to draw that number way, way, way back.

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