Gaming app ad on Facebook taken down for domestic violence

A Facebook advertisement for a mobile gaming app by Betta Games has been removed after it was found to be in breach of Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) Code of Ethics (the Code), “Advertising shall not present or portray violence unless it is justifiable in the context of the product or service advertised”.

The advertisement – which could not be located by Mumbrella – featured a woman with a baby using a broom. A man holding a wine bottle comes into the room and trips over a dustpan left out by the woman. The woman goes to help the man but he pushes her away, then stands over her in a threatening manner. The woman with the baby then leave. The advertisement ends with gameplay from the advertised app.

It is not clear which gaming app the complaints are for, as Betta Games produces several. One of the other Facebook ads that it is currently running, as of 27 January, can be seen below, which is not the advertisement that was found to be in breach. The Facebook ad was posted by the Facebook page “Love Diary: Cube Matching Game”, although the spot ends with the title card of “Mansion Story”. The Page was initially called “Redecor-Mansion Story” before it was changed to its most recent title on 16 April 2021.

In the spot, a woman comes home to find her partner cheating on her. She then chases her partner and lover with a bloody cleaver, as gameplay is shown to progress the story.

In another Facebook advertisement by the same Facebook page, the same woman sees her ex-partner with their new partner while driving a car with her daughter. She gets into a car accident and the daughter appears to suffer from head injuries, causing the pair to move home.

A third Facebook advertisement depicts a child playing with matches and lighting themselves on fire. The parent attempts to rescue the child, but ultimately fails and then the spot ends. It is unclear what happens to the child.

Mobile gaming app advertisements have gained notoriety for being left-of-centre, often featuring soap opera-style stories that seem unrelated to the gameplay of the app being advertised.

None of the above spots are the advertisement that was found to be in breach.

For the advertisement that was found to be in breach of the Code, the complaint read: “The advertisement and the app itself promotes domestic violence and abuse.”

Betta Games’ initial response stated: “As a mobile game developer, publisher and most importantly an advertiser, we want to get the best matchable users and we always try the best to follow regulations and policy of all our partners, platforms and marketing areas.

“To ensure the ads will fulfill all the regulations and policy, we make more efforts, including but no less than the following:

  1. Self check first and no inappropriate creatives will show out
  2. Ads network review. We cooperate with the top advertising networks, such as Facebook, and they have the most strict creatives review flow. If they found the creatives do not comply with the rules, the ads will be rejected.
  3. All ads will be delivered to the right people. When we create the campaign we choose the right audience, when we publish the game, we also choose the users of the right age.
  4. The game involved in the ad is a game combining with storyline which is full of drama and we sometimes make creatives from the storylines.”

In its considerations, the Ad Standards Community Panel (the Panel) found that: “there is no justification for depictions or suggestions of domestic violence in advertising for a game, and noted that there is a heightened level of concern relating to depictions of violence against women in light of increased family violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Panel, therefore, found that the advertisement breached the Code.

In response, Betta Games stated: “We have removed the advertisement involved in case 0338-21. We fully respect your regulations of the Code. And we will continue to provide the best game experience to our audience and users.”


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.