Apple Removes ‘Free’ From Free To Play
Apple has made further changes in its approach to listing free-to-play games on its App Store by replacing the term “FREE” with “GET” from the buy button from free-to-play games that include in-app purchases. Consumer regulatory commissions, such as Federal Trade Commission, U.K. Office of Fair Trading and the European Commission, have been taking action against distributors of free-to-play child-friendly mobile apps over the past few years. These apps, offered on Google Play, App Store and the Amazon App Store, make it easy to be charged for in-app content that range from less than a dollar to $100 or more.
For instance, a 15-year-old boy in Belgium spent approximately 37,000 euros (approximately $46,000 USD) on a free-to-play mobile game last month. This charge was amassed during the month when the boy charged all of his in game micro transactions to his parents’ credit cards; something they were unaware of until they received a statement from their bank by the end of the month.The Belgian Gaming Commission spoke out about the event, calling for “stricter rules” to prevent this from happening to other families.
Both Google and Apple have been offering refunds to parents whose children have amassed huge bills in free-to-play games and are taking court-ordered measures to prevent unauthorized in-app purchases. Earlier this year, both Apple and Google agreed to refund consumers a minimum of $32.5 million USD and $19 million USD, respectively, to settle Federal Trade Commission complaints alleging that they unfairly billed users for in-app micro transactions made by children under the age of 18. As a result of this trial, both companies were ordered to change their billing practices as part of their settlements. Apple had to ensure consumers were given “informed consent” before they can be billed for content by March 31, 2014. Both companies have seemingly adhered to these regulations.