A NEW wave of advertisements on YouTube are promoting predatory free-to-play mobile games.
Made to look like official Pokémon games, these fakes contain in-app purchases.
Using ‘dark patterns’ that block progress for non-paying players, these games use popular Pokémon characters to lure kids in.
Worse still is the number of YouTube adverts that are promoting these games, which are illegal due to copyright law.
While looking at popular Pokémon YouTubers, we saw two adverts that used official Pokémon art to promote their games.
The first was a game called Pocket Arena, which is free to download from the Google Play Store.
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The advert we saw on YouTube is pretty egregious in its copying of Pokémon’s official artwork, naming official Pokémon like Kyogre, Rayquaza, and Mew.
It also uses the name Pokémon several times, and even has items like the Pokédex.
To a child these would seem like official products, and they ask for your Facebook details when you try to sign in.
Beyond this, there are also a number of microtransactions in the games blocking progress.
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The second game we saw on YouTube was called Trainer: Ultimate Battle, and used Pokémon like Charmander, Pikachu, and Groudon in the advertising.
When you go to the app store to download these games, some of this copyrighted material is blurred out, or replaced with original designs.
Once you click on these apps they then recommend you other fake Pokémon games, like Elf Fantasy and Monster Master: Saga, which use these same predatory techniques.
As you might guess from illegal games, they are extremely low quality and encourage you to give away your data and money.
There are plenty of legitimate free-to-play Pokémon games for mobile such as Pokémon Masters EX, Pokémon Unite, and Pokémon Café Remix.
Make sure your child is downloading the official Pokémon games instead of these scams.
Written by Georgina Young on behalf of GLHF.
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