Google Play’s freemium games won’t be labelled ‘free’ much longer

Google Play’s freemium games won’t be labelled ‘free’ much longerThe European Commission loves sticking its political beak into the world of mobile, but to be fair, we’re usually pretty happy with the results – such as the recent lowering of data roaming caps.

Similarly, I’m quite happy with the decision that freemium games shouldn’t really be labelled free on app stores like Google Play and, well, the App Store.

In a press release issued yesterday, the European Commission explains that it’s received a significant number of complaints from its citizens about in-app purchases, particularly as pertains to children.

The Commish goes on to credit Google for planning a number of changes, to be implemented by the end of September 2014, including not using the word “free” when gratis games include in-app purchases.

Furthermore, Google will roll out developer guidelines “to prevent direct exhortation to children”, while payments must be authorised prior to every purchase – unless the user specifically modifies the default settings.

Amusingly, the Commish chides Apple for “regrettably” failing to put any concrete plans in motion, though it has vaguely promised to address concerns in due course, perhaps – one might imagine – in iOS 8.

The European Commission guidelines looks a little something like this:

  • Games advertised as "free" should not mislead consumers about the true costs involved;
  • Games should not contain direct exhortation to children to buy items in a game or to persuade an adult to buy items for them;
  • Consumers should be adequately informed about the payment arrangements for purchases and should not be debited through default settings without consumers’ explicit consent;
  • Traders should provide an email address so that consumers can contact them in case of queries or complaints.

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