The Office of Fair Trading has launched an investigation into ‘freemium’ apps and web-based games, to determine if children are being “unfairly pressured or encouraged to pay for additional content”.
IGN are reporting that the OFT – the UK’s independent body which enforces protection for consumers – have contacted companies that make these games to obtain information relating to in-game marketing aimed at children. They are also encouraging parents as well as consumer groups together in contac with them if they have any examples of misleading practices they are aware of.
Cavendish Elithorn, the OFT’s Senior Director for Goods and Consumer, said in a statement;
“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.”
This investigation follows some recent cases that were reported of children running up huge bills for their parents through in-app purchases, including a story of an 8-year told spending £980 through in-app purchases while playing The Simpsons: Tapped Out.