FTC to Look Into Free-to-Play

February 23, 2011 -

The Federal Trade Commission revealed on Tuesday that it plans to look into "free to play" after several politicians complained about thousands of dollars in transactions initiated unknowingly by young children. The investigation is the result of a letter sent to the agency by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) complaining about children buying virtual items without their parents' consent (hint: it involves Smurf berries).

FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz responded to Markey that the practice of in-app purchases in iPhone and iPad games "raised concerns" that consumers may not understand the full ramifications of the charges they might face.

"We fully share your concern that consumers, particularly children, are unlikely to understand the ramifications of these types of purchases," Leibowitz wrote. "Let me assure you we will look closely at the current industry practice with respect to the marketing and delivery of these types of applications."

An FTC spokesperson confirmed the letter, but would not comment further. Apple did not respond to the report.

“After the Washington Post first broke this story earlier this month, I sent the Federal Trade Commission a letter calling on the agency to investigate the issue of 'in-app' purchases and provide additional information about the promotion and delivery of these applications to consumers, especially with respect to children," Markey said in a statement. "What may appear in these games to be virtual coins and prizes to children result in very real costs to parents. I am pleased that the FTC has responded, and as the use of mobile apps continues to increase, I will continue to actively monitor developments in this important area."

Source: Washington Post


Comments

Re: FTC to Look Into Free-to-Play

The nanny-state gets bigger and bigger. Children get more infantiled and babied. There is a reason I consider myself a libertarian now even if I disagree strongly with many of their policies. Society is Fucked.

"No law means no law" - Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black on the First Amendment

"No law means no law" - Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black on the First Amendment

Re: FTC to Look Into Free-to-Play

Once again an example of goverment being parents of kids because there real parents dosn't do anything for them.

http://www.magicinkgaming.com/

Re: FTC to Look Into Free-to-Play

I don't know, I think this might be a legit case of deceptive sales practices.

It is similiar to cases we used to see about cell phone (or landline) companies charging accounts for calling numbers that we not immediatly obvious as having a fee associated with them.  Dialing a 1-900 number you know you will see something on your phone bill, call a 1-800 or 1-215 and you would not expect to, yet for a while you could bind payment to any number.  Cell phones have chargebacks on SMS numbers, of where there is no way to easily tell ahead of time if it will end up on your bill... both of these have been investigated but phone companies were powerful enough to keep getting away with it.

Here, you have a game that has automatic access to your phone account, and it might not be obvious to an adult that hitting a brightly coloured button on the screen will automaticly charge to thier account or saved CC information.

Re: FTC to Look Into Free-to-Play

How exactly does this work?  Do you just click "Buy Smurfberry" and it charges your account?  At what point do you enter credit card information?

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: FTC to Look Into Free-to-Play

The sales are made through the iOS Payment APIs and the iPhone looks like it might save credit card inormation and so it would be relatively easy for someone to purchase by mistake.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

Re: FTC to Look Into Free-to-Play

AFAIK, it's not the device itself that stores the credit card information: it's the Apple iTunes/App store. You need to have an iTunes account to download ANYTHING to an iDevice.

I have an iPod touch, not an iPhone, but there is a setting on the iPod touch that will completely prevent in-app purchases. It's not hard to find, either. You can also sign out of the store at any time (meaning you have to put the password in again to make any in-app purchases or download an app) or you can just disable downloading altogether.

(This is all based on my experience with the iPod Touch; I can't imagine that it's a whole lot different on other iDevices. It'd be pretty foolish to make the setups all that different, imo.)

Re: FTC to Look Into Free-to-Play

That is what I would like to know.

As much of a concern as it is to get charges to one's credit card, are you forced to store your credit card? Can you remove it and to a 'charge as you go' as many/most websites allow?

It seems like it really should have been pretty easy to keep kids from racking up these charges by not having a credit card anywhere near the game.

Re: FTC to Look Into Free-to-Play

Is the government actively trying to make children stupid?  By the time a kid is 13 (the age most on line anything reccomends before young users are left alone), he should understand what it means to buy something.   

Re: FTC to Look Into Free-to-Play

Governments trying to shut down or limit access to online games. Governments trying to control in-game transactions. It's all only a matter of time, I suppose. Personally, I don't think that in-game transactions made directly in real-world cash should be made easily and/or seemlessly. In comparison, something like Nexon's NX, AeriaGames points, or Microsoft's MSP aren't really all that bad since (unless your credit card is attached to your account/console) you have to buy the points separately.

A case where easier isn't necessarily better.

 

 

Re: FTC to Look Into Free-to-Play

So.. basically we have the old 1-900 argument going on again.   Well, I am sure the right person will get slushed and things will continue as they have been, just like cell phone charges.

 
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IronPatriotDocMelon, are you saying that Andrew Eisen is NOT an ethical journalist?08/03/2015 - 10:53pm
IronPatriotSo if Gamergate was actually about ethics, gamergaters would condemn TotalBiscuit. Right?08/03/2015 - 10:52pm
DocMelonheadI didn't said he was ethical you harassing fool. Why the hell are you attacking Total Biscuit anyways? He's a commentator for christ sake.08/03/2015 - 10:52pm
IronPatriotBecause if TB's informational videos are full of lies, then TB is guilty of bad ethics in game journalism. Right?08/03/2015 - 10:52pm
IronPatriotSo now that you know you cannot defend TotalLYINGbiscuit as merely only "parroting" pro-gamergate lies against gamergate victims like Sarkeesian, please explain how TB is ethical.08/03/2015 - 10:51pm
DocMelonheadWell good for you for pointing that out that Total Biscuit lies about everything.08/03/2015 - 10:50pm
IronPatriotDocmelon admits "DocMelonhead: Iron Patriot, I have no proof, I got no evidence" for his false claim defending TotalLYINGbiscuit. Thank you for finally being honest.08/03/2015 - 10:49pm
DocMelonheadFace it, going through your collection of articles to prove that gamergate is a cover for harassment ain't going to cut it to those who believe said movement can be salvage.08/03/2015 - 10:48pm
DocMelonheadOr all you wanted to see is counter proof that GamerGate is a Bigot campaign against Social Justice Studies in Video games? Either way, It's no wonder you got banned back then.08/03/2015 - 10:43pm
DocMelonheadI said that as a belief because the lie that Anita Sarkeesian is a Hack is very common among the skeptics. Also why the well do you dehumanize Total Biscuit anyways? Do you have a grudge against gamergate?08/03/2015 - 10:42pm
DocMelonheadIron Patriot, I have no proof, I got no evidence, hell the main reason I said that is because I hate your aggressiveness. All I said is that I believe that Total Biscuit regurgitate the same belief that Anita Sarkeesisan's a fraud08/03/2015 - 10:37pm
IronPatriotbenohawk, why do you believe TotalLyingBiscuit when he says he cares about ethics? If he cared about ethics, why did he LIE so much about Gamergate victims like Sarkeesian? How is his lying ETHICAL?08/03/2015 - 10:22pm
IronPatriotDocMelon, prove your claim that TotalLyingBiscuit did not make up the anti-Sarkeesian lies he told to proven harassers in Gamergate. Prove it.08/03/2015 - 10:19pm
DocMelonheadOnce you watch this in full, then you realize why Gamergate is a thing.08/03/2015 - 10:10pm
DocMelonheadSo once again, I invite you to watch this video to see what I mean: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6y8XgGhXkTQ&list=PLJA_jUddXvY62dhVThbeegLPpvQlR4CjF08/03/2015 - 10:09pm
benohawkThe simplest way is to look at what he's said in total, as mentioned before, he's come out against harassment, and that his past behavior suggests that he's very much in it for Ethics and not to try and drive women out of the industry08/03/2015 - 10:03pm
DocMelonheadBecause that is the exact same nutpicking that made GamerGate infamous in the first place.08/03/2015 - 10:02pm
DocMelonheadAnd even if they didn't spread misinformation on Feminist, there's someone out there that does. So with that in mind, it's best to educate people on feminism and critical thinking instead on relying on blog posts and storify on such things.08/03/2015 - 10:01pm
DocMelonheadHell, the same could be said about MundaneMatt, ThunderFoot, or IA/MM/Jim: they're all Angry Jack because of fucking denial. I get that you Despise them for what they did to Anita Sarkeesian, but Calling them demons isn't going to solve anything.08/03/2015 - 9:58pm
DocMelonheadTotal Biscuit is more like Angry Jack than a complete bigot. What he did is bad, but he's beyond someone that constantly harass others.08/03/2015 - 9:55pm
 

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