Truth in Advertising Claims Roblox Advergames Are Deceptive

Is the metaverse safe from product placement and advertising?

So far, the metaverse is mostly theoretical, but one organization, Truth in Advertising (TINA), has filed a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission against online game platform Roblox for failing to establish any meaningful guardrails to ensure compliance with advertising laws. TINA says Roblox has allowed DC Entertainment, Hasbro, Hyundai, Mattel, Netflix and others into its metaverse platform and exposed more than 25 million children to such advertising.

Bonnie Patten, TINA’s executive director, recently discussed the complaint. Below are some excerpts from our conversation.

Marketing Daily: Is the degree of advertising in Roblox unprecedented?

Bonnie Patten: Ads in games have been around for a long time. But I think this is unique in that the advergames are on this closed metaverse platform, and it's impossible for the players on the platform to distinguish between these advert games, which are basically disguised advertisements, and any other organic game that's on the platform.



These sort of closed platform metaverses are relatively new. So I think this type of deception on this platform historically is at a different level,.

Marketing Daily: Has there been any kind of legal response to that?

Patten: There really hasn't. And that's one of the reasons that we filed this complaint, because I think that it really is in some ways the Wild West when you look at these metaverses. Regulators are not scrutinizing these platforms to the extent they need to find all the issues.

Marketing Daily: Has your organization filed complaints against other metaverse type of advertisers?

Patten:  This is the first time we've gone into the metaverses to check out the advertising within the platform. I mean, we have obviously brought complaints to the attention of the FTC with regard to undisclosed social media influencer advertising. We have looked at things on social media platforms that are similar, but not exactly the same as we found on Roblox.

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