Like many indie games, Road 96 is a game you probably haven't heard of. It's a tough industry to break into and it's only gotten harder for indie developer Yoan Fanise due to Facebook blocking an ad he attempted to post, "citing restrictions on ads over politics, elections, and social issues."
In today's politically charged environment, such a thing has happened before. Before the 2020 elections, Democracy 4, a game where you manage countries on a glorified spreadsheet and see the interconnection of various elements, had its ads blocked on Facebook through the same 'Political Ads', erroneously charging Democracy 4 as a political ad, when the game takes steps to be non-partisan and as apolitical as possible.
Now Facebook has struck again, and if the milquetoast Democracy 4 isn't spared by Facebook, one has to wonder how the ad agency Farise hired thought the ad would make it through Facebook's stringent and not-so-clear guidelines, given the political overtones of the game and escaping repressive regimes:
What is Road 96?
Road 96 is set in a fictional world where players have to escape to the border through the fictional country of Petria. You hitchhike to freedom by choosing your own way in Summer 1996. During this road trip, you'll meet characters and discover their secrets and stories as you try and navigate through the authoritarian nation of Petria. Sounds interesting enough, right?
This ad opens a whole can of worms in the form of a simple question: what is supposed to be blocked? What is fair play? While Road 96 has players "flee a regime" and is a politically expedient game in a politically charged time, does that mean Road 96 should have its ads and this ad in particular blocked? It is made murkier by the fact that Facebook acknowledges that its process is imperfect on political ads.
Of course not, but we've been sliding down a slippery slope for so long it's hard to know what's allowed and what's not. At least Road 96 is getting more attention than it would've gotten, which is a good thing. We'll keep you updated on if the ad is ever allowed on Facebook.
Oh, and if Road 96 sounds interesting, be sure to check it out on Steam. There's also a neat art contest going on for Road 96 going on as well.
What do you think of Road 96 ads being blocked? Do you think the game is too political? Do you think that this is sensible in response to the happenings of 2016 on Facebook with political advertising? Let us know in the comments below!