The British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled that EA's free-to-play mobile title Dungeon Keeper can no longer be advertised in the region as being "free."
The watchdog agency said that timed in-game events that prevent players from progressing without micro-transactions are why EA needs to make changes in how it advertises the game, according to the ASA's website.
EA's iOS version of Dungeon Keeper is free to download and play without making in-app purchases but there are certain moments within the game where players are forced to wait for a countdown timer to finish in order to continue playing.
The ASA also said that this timer becomes "excessively onerous" as players go deeper into the game and can only be skipped by paying money.
"We regarded it as extremely likely that players would reach a position where they would be unable to take any further meaningful or progressive action in the game until a timer had finished or been skipped, and that these periods would become longer and more significant, and the cost of skipping increasingly higher, as the player progressed," reads the ASA's statement. "From the information available in the ad, players would expect the gameplay progression and their ability to advance to be unhindered by unexpected and excessively onerous delays, and we therefore considered that the length and frequency of these countdown events was beyond that which would be reasonably expected by players."
EA responded to the ruling by saying that it did not feel that its ads were misleading because in-app purchases are not required to play Dungeon Keeper; they are also a means for some players to progress more quickly as a matter of personal preference.
No matter what EA says it has to change the way it advertises the game in the UK if it wants to continue selling it there.