I know I am not alone when I say that mobile gaming ads have gotten out of control. While this isn't the case for all mobile games, a good majority of mobile games are advertised with misleading graphics, storylines, and gameplay, none of which truly represent the real thing.
Mobile gamers know that unless they pay for the ad-free version of a mobile game, they are bound to be bombarded with ad after ad of ridiculously misleading ads for games that in reality don't exist as they are presented. Sometimes, the ads are so well done, presenting an intriguing game with great graphics and gameplay, that I've found myself downloading a game that ends up being a big, fat disappointment.
Regardless of the fact that the lies and deceit of mobile game ads are a well-known inside joke amongst mobile gamers, the joke keeps continuing and gamers keep falling for it. So, in this shortlist, I rank the most misleading mobile gaming ads and the games that inspired them.
Gallery: Coloring Book & Decor is a puzzle game that isn't quite portrayed as a puzzle game in the misleading marketing ads mobile gamers see in the App Store or Google Play. In fact, most of this game, much like Homescapes, is beating puzzles so that players can redecorate a questionably dilapidated home in record time. The main difference between Gallery: Coloring Book & Decor and other mobile puzzle games, is that the puzzle is coloring by number with a few neat boosters to help players get the job done.
For the most part, Gallery: Coloring Book & Decor appears to be a coloring game that involves redecorating, which is misleading and confusing to players before they take the leap to download the game. Before downloading Gallery: Coloring Book & Decor, I thought I was going to be coloring and redecorating with an accompanying storyline. The ad makes it look like players are coloring the home by selecting items they are redecorating too, which isn't the case. Yes, players get to redecorate, but the way they do that is not truthfully represented in the ad.
The real problem with the ad, however, is that potential players are made to think the game is limitless in terms of decor and coloring. In reality, gameplay looks nothing like the ad. Players are also roped into various, devious monetization strategies that limit and dictate gameplay. Gameplay, in general, just looks vastly different from what the ad indicates.
Gameplay is not awful. In fact, it can be enjoyable and methodical. For those who enjoy relaxing games, Gallery: Coloring Book & Decor is definitely that. Coloring by numbers is exactly what it sounds like, though the ad certainly doesn't show that. For those players that enjoy coloring games, especially coloring by numbers and redecorating, Gallery: Coloring Book & Decor can be fun.
The issue with gameplay is it isn't accurately represented in the ads. In fact, gameplay is mostly composed of completing a puzzle (coloring by number using various boosters), redecorating something, and repeating. In between, there is a bit of story and plot happening, which is enjoyable but can also be skipped if a player prefers it.
The biggest issue, is that the game itself is not free. If you want to be able to truly redecorate, you need to subscribe to the game, paying money each month. So, if you decide to do that, you better really enjoy the game first.
Project Makeover is one of the many examples of mobile puzzle games that simply aren't marketed as puzzle games at all. The ads for Project Makeover present a game that involves dramatically disheveled characters, often covered in mud or badly in need of a haircut. Often the characters are in desperate need of help in order to keep their significant other around, who has noticed there are other characters with fresh haircuts who are not covered in mud for no reason at all. Odd, right?
While some of this is true to gameplay, being that Project Makeover is a makeover game in which characters are badly in need of some self-care, the drama and the snobbery simply isn't a big part of gameplay. The puzzle aspect of the game, which is a majority of gameplay, is also not represented in the Project Makeover ads mobile gamers are sure to come across.
All-in-all, gameplay isn't represented at all in the ads, and potential players are bound to be unprepared for puzzle after puzzle after puzzle.
Gameplay in Project Makeover is actually fun. I may or may not have the game and may or may not have been playing it for years. Gameplay is really very similar to Candy Crush and involves making over a character who needs a bit of a bath and the redecorating of a specific room in that character's house. Each character has their own story as to why they are in need of a makeover, be it that they are a single parent or a mad scientist, and the puzzles are methodical and addicting.
For mobile gamers who love a puzzle game, this game comes with a ton of free boosters and challenging puzzles. The only real issue with Project Makeover is that the gameplay is not represented in the ads.
King's Choice is an RPG with some very interesting marketing methods. King's Choice players get to play a King or Queen living in a medieval, European inspired court. As rightful heir, players take rule and expand a boundless empire by completing daily tasks, events, and the other duties of a King or Queen.
While this sounds like a standard mobile game, you wouldn't know this was the game you were playing if you stumbled upon the various ads for King's Choice. The ads certainly paint a less-than-honest picture for what mobile gamers will be getting into if they give the game a go. From romantic conquests, cheesy drama, and mean-spirited competition, King's Choice players really have no idea what to expect until they start playing the game, where they find out there isn't quite as much drama and sabotage as the ads portray, in fact, there is very little drama as it is portrayed in the ads.
Instead, gameplay is pretty straightforward, involving those daily tasks and duties I mentioned above.
Playing King's Choice is actually kind of fun for mobile gamers who like the grind, repetitive daily tasks allow players to expand their empire, upgrade knights, check off achievements, and run a kingdom by making various choices that dictate what kind of King or Queen they are.
Players get to battle invaders and take on the spoiled and rich elite who think they are above the law or mistreat those with a lower social status. Yes, there is a bit of romance and marriage, but in my experience it's an incredibly small part of the game that did not deserve to be the center of the ads for King's Choice.
If you do download King's Choice, however, be prepared for ads galore and tons of monetization strategies.
Homescapes is probably going to be the most familiar mobile game in this list, because any mobile gamer who plays semi-frequently has seen its ridiculous ads with storylines that have nothing to do with the gameplay. Homescapes is categorized as a simulation game, which is simply another misleading presentation of this game. In reality, Homescapes is a puzzle and renovation game.
Players spend more time doing puzzles not unlike Candy Crush in order to afford fancy renovations on a house that has completely gone to shreds. When a butler decides to go back home, he finds the entire place covered in layers of dust and tripped over rugs that are dirty and tattered. Luckily, he's a butler, so he can clean the place up.
This is all fine and dandy, right? Plenty of gamers enjoy puzzle games, and plenty of puzzle games come with a renovation element. However, Homescapes has gamers thinking that they will be playing a game with a heavy story line and dramatic scenarios they need to resolve, and that is not the case. Gameplay is actually very simple and has nothing to do with storylines presented in the ads.
Gameplay in Homescapes is the same gameplay typical of any puzzle game. You do a puzzle, get some cashflow, and then use that cashflow. In this case, a butler is renovating his parent's dilapidated home. The house is so badly taken care of when the butler gets there that I found myself concerned for the parents. How have they been living this way?
There are clouds of dust and furniture that has fallen apart. Essentially, it's extremely dramatic and exaggerated, but once I got down to gameplay I found that it was pretty fun. The puzzles are fun. The renovation can be fun. The problem isn't really the game and gameplay, but the marketing.
So, if you download this mobile game, be prepared to do a lot of puzzles and renovate a home, not get caught in some illicit love affair or drown in the middle of an ocean.