The ad depicted a man about to assault a woman from behind with a chair
The advert for a game called Gold And Goblins featured a woman playing a game on her mobile phone, while a man behind her picked up a chair and drew it back over his head as if to hit her with it.
It then showed the man looking at the phone over the woman’s shoulder as she continued to play.
Two complainants believed the advert, which was seen in the Hooked Inc: Fishing Games and Quizzland apps in September, encouraged domestic violence.
They challenged whether it was offensive and socially irresponsible.
The Advertising Standards Authority ruled that the ad “must not appear again in its current form” because it was likely to cause “serious and widespread offence”.
“The ad depicted a man about to assault a woman, and we considered that consumers would understand from the context of the setting that it was because her attention was focused on the game she was playing, rather than on the man,” said the ASA.
“We considered that such a reference used in an ad for a mobile app game trivialised and condoned the serious and sensitive subject of domestic violence.”
AppQuantum Publishing said it would immediately stop running the ad across all their platforms.
The mobile games publisher said it had intended the ad to be humorous in nature, and apologised for any offence it may have caused.
Lion Studios, developer of Hooked Inc: Fishing Games, said they were not affiliated with AppQuantum and allowed third-party advertisers to publish ads in their games which were not reviewed or pre-approved by them.
They said the responsibility to ensure that ads complied with applicable laws and regulations belong to advertisers, and that they had taken measures to prevent the banned ad from appearing in their games.
Familia App Developers, developer of Quizzland, said they used third-party software for their in-app advertising and expected harmful or inappropriate ads to be filtered out by that system.
They said they had updated their settings to block similar ads from appearing in their games in the future.