The European Union announced today that it is working with member states to create guidelines that ensure that games and apps with in-app purchases are marketed to consumers in an "appropriate manner." These rules come after an investigation into App store marketing practices aimed at children.
The EU said that, going forward, the following guidelines will be applied to Apple, Google, and other app store owners:
- 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
Because of these new guidelines, Google has begun implementing changes to its Google Play store - Google says it should be compliant with EU guidelines by the end of September.
The EU says that "no concrete and immediate solutions have been made by Apple to date to address the concerns linked in particular to payment authorisation."
It goes on to say that it will continue to engage with Apple, in the hope that Apple will comply.
Neelie Kroes, the vice president responsible for the Digital Agenda, noted, "The Commission is very supportive of innovation in the app sector. In-app purchases are a legitimate business model, but it's essential for app-makers to understand and respect EU law while they develop these new business models."
And Neven Mimica, EU Commissioner for Consumer Policy, added that, "In particular, children must be better protected when playing online. The action also provides invaluable experience for the ongoing reflection on how to most effectively organise the enforcement of consumer rights in the Union."
You can read the EU's release on these changes here.