Video Games Microtransactions Investigated for Targeting Kids' Money

Office of Fair Trading getting teeth into child cash extraction

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Buy some more shiiiiiiit!
Buy some more shiiiiiiit!
The UK's Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is turning its time, energy, and PR resources away from rouge traders and dodgy double glazing and into video games that make kids spend thousands of quids on microtransactions.

Specifically the OFT points out that it's after items, "including upgraded membership or virtual currency such as coins, gems or fruit." There is even a site that you can visit to make complaints, more on that below.

The OFT, "OFT has written to companies offering free web or app-based games, seeking information on in-game marketing to children. The OFT is also asking for parents and consumer groups to contact it with information about potentially misleading or commercially aggressive practices they are aware of in relation to these games.

" OFT investigation is exploring whether these games are misleading, commercially aggressive or otherwise unfair. In particular, the OFT is looking into whether these games include 'direct exhortations' to children - a strong encouragement to make a purchase, or to do something that will necessitate making a purchase, or to persuade their parents or other adults to make a purchase for them. This is unlawful under the Consumer Protection (from Unfair Trading) Regulations 2008."

Cavendish Elithorn, OFT Senior Director for Goods and Consumer states that, "'We are concerned that children and their parents could be subject to unfair pressure to purchase when they are playing games they thought were free, but which can actually run up substantial costs.

"The OFT is not seeking to ban in-game purchases, but the games industry must ensure it is complying with the relevant regulations so that children are protected. We are speaking to the industry and will take enforcement action if necessary."

Tell the OFT of your woes at this site here.

What do you reckon? Blame the kids? Blame the parents? Blame the game companies? Don't blame anybody? Tell in the comments below or over on the free and friendly forum.

Source: Office of Fair Trading


config 12 Apr 2013 11:06
Parent need to take some responsibility here, but that said, I've fallen foul of this.
As a tech savvy parent whose 3yo racked up 30 quid on a game for iPad (which otherwise had password controls on iTunes downloads) I was surprised that; a. it was possible for apps to bypass this (given that it is effectively an iTunes purchase), b. that the fascist at Apple allow apps to make passwordless purchases (speshly given iOS/iTunes doesn't let me so much as scratch my arse without wanting a password).
I immediately rummaged around the scatterbrained-conceived iOS settings to find how to put a password in place, but all it would let me do is put a total block on in-app purchased.
Of course, the game developers don't get of free. Their greed has to be the only reason they didn't opt to put in a password confirm for purchases, which I'd previously seen and thought was the norm/requirement for iOS
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