There are a lot of parents out there that have been surprised to get massive bills for in game purchases on various mobile game apps made by kids. In the UK, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) said about a year ago that it was going to investigate free to play apps and games that target children. The goal of the investigation was to see if children were being unfairly targeted and pressured into buying in-game items.
The OFT has now published its final rules for the game industry and notes that developers are expected to be sure their games follow the new rules by April 1. The biggest thing in the rules is that consumers be told up front what the costs are for each game and what type of advertising will be shown during the game.
The OFT also requires that the game tell users what sort of personal info will be required and if that info will be shared with third parties. The new rules also stipulate that any in-game purchases must be authorized by the account holder.
Without the informed consent of the account holder, the rules state no payments should be taken. It’s unclear exactly how that informed consent provision will be executed. The UK fair trade body also worked with OFT on the new rules.