The UK government's Office of Fair Trading has unearthed "potentially unfair and aggressive commercial practices" in 38 popular games aimed at kids and adults and is threatening future action against unfair or unflagged use of 'Free2Play' and other commercial models.
The OFT has also published a set of guidelines (available here in PDF
form) following its April 2013 investigation into the dodgy, money grabbing practices. The OFT, "explored whether online and app-based games included commercial practices that may be considered misleading, aggressive or otherwise unfair under that legislation." It lays out its concerns as follows:
• a lack of transparent, accurate and clear up-front information relating, for example, to costs, and other information material to a consumer’s decision about whether to play, download or sign up to a game
• misleading commercial practices, including failing to identify the practice’s commercial intent
• exploiting children’s inexperience, vulnerability and credulity, including by aggressive commercial practices
• including direct exhortations to children to buy advertised products or persuade their parents or other adults to buy advertised products for them
• payments taken from account holders without their knowledge, express authorisation or informed consent
The report states that "The OFT considers that commercial practices of this (microtransactional/F2P) nature are likely to breach consumer protection law. Many of the games we examined contained, in our view, at least one of the commercial practices described in this report. As such, we consider it necessary for market participants to implement changes to ensure full compliance with their legal responsibilities."
We'd recommend that if you're a developer or a consumer that you read the full guidelines.Image Credit