The UK Advertising Standards Agency isn't happy with Moshi Monsters or Bin Weevils


'Members are going to be super popular!'

Moshi Monsters is pretty popular with kids here in the UK. It’s been around for a few years now, and has managed to gain toys and shows alongside the website and games. Bin Weevils has been around for a bit longer, but has a similar concept to Moshi Monsters: exploring a world as your Bin Weevil, playing games, earning coins, buying cosmetic stuff, that sort of thing.

Well both games are now in trouble with the British Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), due to the way they advertised their subscription services to players. You can read the full findings of the complaint for Moshi Monsters and Bin Weevils on the ASA website.

The complaint (there only needs to be one for the ASA to investigate a company) seems to have come from the Competition and Markets Authority:

The Competition and Markets Authority, who believed that the game was targeted at children and contained a direct exhortation to buy a membership package, challenged whether the ad breached the Code.

The ASA found that both games were “commanding” children to buy membership subscriptions with phrases like “JOIN NOW”. This was combined with putting “pressure” onto kids with phrases such as “Members are going to be super popular”, and so ruled to a “direct exhortation” on kids to cough up for membership.

In simple, non-British-bureaucrat-bullshit, kids felt unfairly pressured into paying for subscriptions.

The response from both websites was that they were willing to make any changes needed. Both developers made changes to their systems as soon as they were made aware of the complaints. 55 Pixels, the developer of Bin Weevils, said:

[55 Pixels] stated that they did not realise their approach was potentially in breach of the CAP Code and that since receiving the complaint they had revised the ads to state "About Membership".

While Moshi Monsters developer Mind Candy said:

Mind Candy Ltd t/a Moshi Monsters stated that they were willing to make suitable amendments to their advertising, and noted that upon receipt of the complaint they had altered the ads in question. These changes included removing the 'Now' direction and re-wording information about Super Moshi Missions.

Because of the ASA’s ruling, the ads are no longer allowed onto the websites in their current form. 55 Pixels and Mind Candy will need to ensure they've rephrased how they push the membership options.

I think the ruling is pretty good. There have been countless stories of kids running up massive bills in iOS games, simply because they don’t understand (or don’t care, remember kids are little shits sometimes) that the money they spend in-game is actual real money. This feels like a good way of preventing that sort of thing from happening here.

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Joe Parlock
Joe ParlockFormer Hardware Editor   gamer profile

Destructoid's former Hardware Editor. Has a, quite frankly, disturbingly large collection of Monsters Inc. merchandise that nobody ever seems to ask him about. Still, he's mostly harmless. --- ... more + disclosures



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