There’s been an explosion of game ads on Instagram featuring auto runners, brick breakers, and other game types that look kind of fun in a mindless sort of way. They’re not new. I’ve seen them for a while, and I decided to try one recently. I deleted it within minutes, for two reasons.
First, the marketing pulls a bait and switch. I finally caved and tried an auto runner, but it turned out to be one of those loose management sims where you have to build something, usually a village or a castle, and give orders to scantily clad anime-style women. If there's an auto runner buried somewhere in there, I didn't stick around long enough to find it.
Second, the ads are as maddening to watch, and that's intentional. They show a player making blatantly stupid decisions designed to make you think “I could do so much better” and download the game. It’s clear manipulation designed to rope you into interacting with the ad. Even if most people are disgusted when they catch on to the bait-and-switch scheme—which takes about five seconds—I’m sure the developers retain enough users to justify creating more skeevy advertisements.
These types of deceptive game ads aren’t new. Twitter used to be bombarded with game ads showing absurdly big-breasted anime characters making “O” faces with captions like “Come save me, my lord!” You think you're entering a cartoon harem. Think again! Time to build a settlement.
I'm sure these types of ads meet the bare minimum of requirements to be legal, but they're infuriating and deceptive.