The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has threatened action against the makers of games and apps that show evidence of “potentially unfair and aggressive commercial practices”.
One of the worst examples seen by the OFT involved a game where the player was made to feel bad by telling them a virtual animal was “ill” but could be cured by an in-app purchase.
Other areas of concern included blurring the distinction between spending in-game currency and real money and a general lack of transparent, accurate and clear upfront information about costs.
“I don’t think children are always aware that when they click ‘yes’ it’s spending money,” Cavendish Elithorn, executive director at the OFT, told the BBC.
TIGA’s chief executive, Richard Wilson, has said that the UK is leading the way in addressing these issues. United Kingdom Interactive Entertainment (Ukie) chief executive, Jo Twist, has also commented on the report.
“It is vital that any final guidelines, whilst primarily considering the best interests of children, do not inadvertently isolate UK consumers from accessing the games that they want to play, stifle the creativity of games developers or prevent the growth of the UK games industry,” she said.
The OFT has invited interested parties to comment on its principles by mid November and intends to publish a final guidelines by February with enforcement action beginning in April 2014.
The rather large flaw on the OFT’s plan is that they can only admonish companies based in the U.K.