App-based games come under investigation

Published on: 12th April 2013

Free web- and app-based games for children are under investigation following concerns that users can run up substantial costs.inapppurchase300

The Office of Fair Trading said it was investigating whether children were being unfairly pressurised or encouraged to pay for content in free games. Typically, players can access only certain areas of these games for free and must pay for higher levels or features.

The OFT has written to companies who offer such games asking them for information on how they market to children, and is asking parents and consumer groups for information about potentially misleading or commercially aggressive practices.

The OFT’s investigation will look into whether these games include “direct exhortations” to children, or strong encouragement to make a purchase, to do something that will require making a purchase, or to persuade their parents or other adults to make a purchase for them. It will also consider whether the full cost of some of these games is made clear when they are downloaded or accessed.

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