UK authorities are probing whether free children’s web and app-based games breach consumer protection laws, by unfairly pressuring children into paying for extras.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is in the early stages of an investigation into whether games that encourage children to spend money are misleading or commercially aggressive. The organization is seeking information from game developers and hosting firms, parents, and consumer groups in a bid to determine whether the full cost of games is made clear when downloaded or accessed.
“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,” Cavendish Elithorn, OFT senior director for goods and consumer, explains.
Elithorn adds the OFT isn’t trying to ban in-game purchases, rather ensure gaming firms are “complying with the relevant regulations.”