★ TouchArcade needs your help. Click here to support us on Patreon.

Office of Fair Trading on IAPs for kids

09-26-2013, 05:18 AM
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 2,482
Office of Fair Trading on IAPs for kids

The OFT in the UK has outlined 8 points concerning the use of IAPs in game aimed at children. It should come into place next year, after being shaped and finalised.

-Information about the costs associated with a game should be provided clearly, accurately and prominently up-front before the consumer begins to play, download or sign up to it or agrees to make a purchase.

-All material information about the game should be clear, accurate, prominent and provided up-front, before the consumer begins to play, download or sign up to it or agrees to make a purchase. 'Material information' includes any information necessary for the average consumer to make an informed decision to play, download or sign up to the game or to make a purchase.

-Information about the business should be clear, accurate, prominent and provided up-front, before the consumer begins to play, download or sign up to the game or agrees to make a purchase. It should be clear to the consumer who he/she ought to contact in case of queries or complaints. The business should be capable of being contacted rapidly and communicated with in a direct and effective manner.

-The commercial intent of any in-game promotion of paid-for content, or promotion of any other product or service, should be clear and distinguishable from gameplay.

-A game should not mislead consumers by giving the false impression that payments are required or are an integral part of the way the game is played if that is not the case.

-Games should not include practices that are aggressive, or which otherwise have the potential to exploit a child’s inherent inexperience, vulnerability or credulity. The younger a child is, the greater the likely impact those practices will have, and the language, design, visual interface and structure of the game should take account of that.

-A game should not include direct exhortations to children to make a purchase or persuade others to make purchases for them.

-Payments should not be taken from the payment account holder unless authorised. A payment made in a game is not authorised unless informed consent for that payment has been given by the payment account holder. The scope of the agreement and the amount to be debited should be made clear to the consumer so he/she can give informed consent. Consent should not be assumed, for example through the use of opt-out provisions, and the consumer should positively indicate his/her informed consent.

I wonder where the lines blur and what loopholes will be exploited. For example, Sega could claim that Sonic is not aimed at kids, but perhaps the older generation who grew up with it many years ago. Sure huge companies will employ someone to wriggle their way out!

If something online is free, you are not the customer - you are the product.
09-26-2013, 05:20 AM
Joined: Jun 2013
Posts: 2,257
I watched the news about this early today. They need to make kids more aware, or make it easier for parents to disable iaps.
09-26-2013, 05:52 AM
Joined: Oct 2010
Location: Belfast N Ireland
Posts: 2,193
I hate IAPS and avoid them like the plague the only exception I have ever made was for Galaxy on Fire 2 HD on my Nexus, only reason was I loved that game on my old iPod I didn't mind stumping up the money for the expansions I already had on IOS I still like the game but it isn't as good as it was because they have messed with the item prices ridiculously to try and sell credit packs.

So yeah even the one I bought confirmed to me that IAP's ruin games.

I don't mean to sound bitter, cold, or cruel, but I am, so that's how it comes out
09-26-2013, 06:32 AM
Joined: Jan 2011
Location: England
Posts: 11,346
I can see both sides but parents should take some of the blame.

My best friends sister, their kid rolled up $100 on IAP's, his mum was furious, i said how could he do that ? He has the password apparently ! Well thats just stupid then !

My little girl uses my ipad a lot and loves it, shes constantly pressing tons of things, sometimes it comes up with my password screen as she clicked on 'buy now' when one of her apps features other ones by the same dev. I just click cancel.
09-26-2013, 07:34 AM
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: London, UK
Posts: 3,739
My aunt has been caught out, by Smurfberries actually. Back then, she had no idea that a game for kids would have IAP that expensive, so when her daughter asked her to enter her password for "some" Smurfberries, she agreed.

The problem was the lack of confirmation -after- the password is entered. She didn't intend to blindly make the purchase, but the device was handed to her with the password screen active, so she instinctively typed it in expecting to see the amount before confirming. That didn't happen.

I've got a feeling at least some developers will use the workaround suggested though. Create a game for kids then write "Not intended for children" in the description. It's obviously a foul move though, so I wouldn't expect a reputable developer to lower themselves that much.