As a Roblox developer, it is currently too hard to include advertised content in my experience.
Just want to make it clear that I am not a lawyer and this is coming from my understanding of the document, this is not legal-advice
As you may have heard in Simplifying Community Standards & Introducing Advertising Standards Roblox has announced an update to their “Advertising Standards”. However there are a few issues with these guidelines, such as the fact that every experience that has sponsored content, is technically breaking the guidelines!
Issue 1: Game Page
The game-page is a public page which allows us to describe our experience as-well as add thumbnails and we can even add a game-icon to our game, most brands request for the thumbnail, icon or description to be changed to mention the branded “update” while the brand’s event is occurring, however this would not be allowed! The game page is public and as a result cannot contain branded content as an under 13 user can view the page. This deeply affects games made specifically for brands.
Issue 2: Decals
Okay, so we can’t feature branded content on our game-page… Let’s just throw a decal in-game then, oh wait, that’s not allowed either! As of it’s current writing, any amount of showing an advertisement to a possibly under 13 player appears to be in-breach of the standard this would be fine however our decal’s library page has a viewable preview of the decal and could constitute a breach. We can-not restrict this viewing from <13 users and as a result we cannot upload the decal! Only audio is safe from this as audio is private.
Issue 3: Impossible “Blocking” Of Sponsored Content
The standards require that all advertised content not be available for under 13 players, however what if I had a branded-car in-experience that was licensed for use by the company. Well, we are in trouble. We would have to replace the car model entirely for any player who is under 13, which is impossible to do without creating collision differences between the similar yet different car parts (in some cases the car mesh itself may possibly be deemed an advertisement, depends on how strict Roblox would be). Even if the mesh doesn’t have to be changed, players in-chat may be confused as to what is occurring when a player starts talking about a car that looks nothing like the car they can see, and may even reveal that a player is under 13 by-proxy.
Issue 4: Friction
From a user-experience point-of-view I should never kick a player for something that they didn’t do wrong for, ideally they should not be able to join the game if not authorised. However, if my game is entirely advertising content (IE: a brand game) I would be forced to kick all under-aged players (as age guidelines is not a valid way to combat this), this creates UX friction.
Issue 5: Required Translations?
As per the advertising standards, I am required to disclose the ad to the user, this would be fine except for the fact that Roblox implies this text must be translated to every language so “every user can view this disclosure”!
This is slid-in only on the Complying with Advertising Standards | Roblox Creator Documentation article and implies that I need to hire a translator for every language (or use the dodgy automatically-generated ones), which is unreasonable to assume of a developer.
Although while these guidelines do look promising, they are not fit for the current state of the platform and put most if not all “sponsored game-developers” at risk in their current state, they need to be re-written to account for the Roblox platform’s limitations.
If this issue is addressed, it would improve my development experience because I could include advertised content in my experience much more freely.