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OFT investigating in-game purchases for mobile and web games


I don't know what's worse, me watching Daybreak when I woke up or the fact that they were talking about games. Either way, I learned something new this morning.

Apparently, The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) are to investigate in-game purchases for mobile and web games, being mostly concerned with publishers tricking children into buying in-app purchases.

As well as being mentioned on the aforementioned Daybreak, OFT has also posted notice of this on its website.

"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," said OFT senior director for goods and consumer, Cavendish Elithorn.

"The OFT is not seeking to ban in-game purchases, but the games industry must ensure it is complying with the relevant regulations so that children are protected. We are speaking to the industry and will take enforcement action if necessary."

Daybreak spoke to a few parents who had been affected by children purchasing in-game, most of whom were of the opinion that if a game says it's free then it should be.

It seems to me that people who give their phones and iPads to their children need education on the technology more than anything else. There are plenty of options to block in-game purchases, so maybe it's wise to search the internet for how to do this, rather than handing your new tech to the kids. You wouldn't give them your wallet would you?

Edited On 12 Apr, 2013

Comments
( 27 )
DynamiteWhyte's avatar
DynamiteWhyte 4 years ago
As far as I'm concerned, these people need to stop letting their kids just run amok with their credit cards and stuff, or just face the consequences. My nephews done it to me, and I had to pay up but it's just life. I don't have sympathy for people who would allow their child to play a game that has in-game purchases without checking it out first. Just like that guy in the paper the other week who had phoned adult lines and racked up £80k worth of debt, he said it was the companys fault and the banks fault. People need to start taking some responsibility.
Pyroloveridge's avatar
Pyroloveridge 4 years ago
Agreed, however i still think they need looking into. i think freemium games should be free like they state and not once you get to a certain point you have no choice but to buy if you want to progress..
DynamiteWhyte's avatar
DynamiteWhyte 4 years ago
I agree with that. I think you should be able to buy DLC for the games to evolve them further, but there should be no 'must have' to get past certain parts on games, or it just ruins any experience a person had for it.
Anonymous user's avatar
HARVEY 4 years ago
I think that 'freemium' games are the spawn of satan and should be outlawed. I'm all for 'in game' purchases but to be asked to pay £40 for some in game 'coins' that can be used up in less than 5 minutes is a blatant con. In game purchases should be £2-£3 at most and provide some level of satisfaction not something that can be used up in seconds. Ban them, ban them all.
Johno Muller's avatar
Johno Muller 4 years ago
In-game/app purchases are fine, if people WANT to spend extra money to get better gear faster that is their choice. In the terms of children it is solely the fault of the parent for not taking responsibility with their money at no point do you NEED to have your credit/debit card connected to a games console, the same with phones and tablets. But people are idiots and apparently don't deserve to be exploited.
Anonymous user's avatar
HARVEY 4 years ago
I'm guessing here and correct me if I'm wrong but non of the commentors above blaming parents have children, right? It is VERY easy for you to fall in to this trap. I haven't because I know what I'm doing with technology but I can see how easy it is for others to fall for it. No in app purchases should cost £40, £70, £100!! (Megapolis for example). It is a CON, nothing more, nothing less.
DynamiteWhyte's avatar
DynamiteWhyte 4 years ago
I have a nephew that basically got brought up in my house for 7 years. So I know what it's like to have them. I never fell in to this trap when I was younger because my parents wouldn't allow it. If you're going to allow your children to play on your mobile, either block out purchases yourself, or risk the lot for 5 minutes of peace.
Anonymous user's avatar
HARVEY 4 years ago
But don't you agree that in app purchases of £40 and over are only for the clearly insane, filthy rich or parents who have unwittingly handed their tablet/phone to their 5 year old for 10 minutes to shut them up whinging in the dentist waiting room who then rack up a £1000 bill?
Johno Muller's avatar
Johno Muller 4 years ago
I don't have children, but my little sister falls into the age range that is apparently targeted for this, she loves playing with me because I'm the fun one with lots of cool games. But as I stated previously it isn't necessary to connect a credit/debit card to the device and as such I haven't, It's cheaper to buy topup cards and propriety fun bucks in shops as they often sell them for less than their value. I'd never heard of megapolis before but looked into it but from what I see it is standard value micro-transaction prices... apart from the £35 one which is pretty pathetic.
DynamiteWhyte's avatar
DynamiteWhyte 4 years ago
There shouldn't be £40 app purchases, but if people who play the game want to pay the £40 for whatever the £40 unlocks, then the developers would be stupid to not give out that option.
Midgar_zolom's avatar
Midgar_zolom 4 years ago
I agree with most of the comments on here, most importantly parents need to take responsibility, I wouldn't trust my partner with my account let alone a child. I also don't think free to play games should be banned but i think they should come with a warning before you download mentioning the game supports purchasable content. I pesonally try to avoid any FTP games now after i got heavily burned with Ecolibrium micro transactions, never again!
troublemaker's avatar
troublemaker 4 years ago
Turn off in-app purchases? Don't add your credit card? or, more important, don't give kids your passwords! Take some god damn responsibility and stop blaming other for your screw ups. It's no-ones fault but your own, discipline your kid and learn your lesson! Morons!
Anonymous user's avatar
HARVEY 4 years ago
But I have my debit card set up on my devices for when I want to buy stuff. But when I hand them over to my children I have to be very careful and watch over them to make sure they're not attempting to buy in app purchases (they'd need my password to do so) but I'm always wary. It's a clear con by the makers of these games to try and lure people to part with their money. You should pay up front for a game and then that should be it. Unless they release 'new' content that they can then charge a couple of quid for to make the game last a bit longer.
Midgar_zolom's avatar
Midgar_zolom 4 years ago
Would just like to say............... shame on you Joe for watching Daybreak!
Johno Muller's avatar
Johno Muller 4 years ago
It is easy enough to open a browser and buy a redeem code, once again usually cheaper, enter the code to get the money to buy things... its an extra couple of steps but the fact I can get £35 for my PSN wallet for £20 is amazing. Disable in app purchases for if I have more in my wallet than the cost of the thing I bought. There are enough in place steps to prevent this kind of thing. It is not a con, I think that it is a brilliant idea that I can play a game that has been out for a long time and I can get myself to a competitive level with other users by spending a little money. For the most part it is reasonable enough to be able earn the in game money to afford these packs that can be purchased with real money.
troublemaker's avatar
troublemaker 4 years ago
Oh, and children or not, a little common sense is all that is required! if you are allowing your children to pay these games on these machines, then you should have control over them. I don't have a card attached to my itunes account. i use vouchers. If, and that's a big IF, my nephews/neices/kids/whatever get my password, they can spend the £20 that's on the account and nothing more. It's easy enough to blame the people that make these games, but people need to take some personal responsibility.
Loli-Nox-Tan's avatar
Loli-Nox-Tan 4 years ago
Exactly. In this day and age it is'Never'the fault of the parents
Johno Muller's avatar
Johno Muller 4 years ago
"My kid failed his GCSEs because he didn't revise and spent his nights staying up until 4 playing xbox, It MUST be the teachers fault for not doing her job properly!"
Loli-Nox-Tan's avatar
Loli-Nox-Tan 4 years ago
Lol Parent Logic
Spear 25's avatar
Spear 25 4 years ago
Surely a combination of a good password and simply monitoring your child whilst they are using your device would help stop these problems occurring.
Loli-Nox-Tan's avatar
Loli-Nox-Tan 4 years ago
You would think so but most parents use these devices as babysitting tools
Dead's avatar
Dead 4 years ago
Just seen this on the news and they showed a Simpsons game where they had a donut shop for sale at £35, bloody ridiculous, you can buy a AAA console game brand new at launch for that kind of money, is this a magic donut shop or something that gives you free donuts for life in real life?
Robichoico's avatar
Robichoico 4 years ago
Yeah the Simpsons Tapped Out is terrible for premium stuff. Although I'm playing it and it's a lot of fun. Unfortunately the likes of Sideshow Mel, Duffman, Bumblebee Man and Prof Frink are premium (you can get these as freebies too tho.) but the majority of the chars are in the main game. Since they done most of the major characters (except Patty and Selma, Skinner's Mom etc) most of the Premium chars now are ones like Bart's girlfriend from an episode, or whacking Day Homer. But in the end. It's EA who done the Simpsons game. Does anything more need to be said?
Dead's avatar
Dead 4 years ago
Not really, they are run by Satan himself after all.
Anonymous user's avatar
ALEX 4 years ago
To be honest I reckon it's high time the OFT started looking at the cost of premium download content - I remember a time when the buck stopped when you bought the game. Take a game like Call of Duty Black Ops 2 - by paying the £34.99 for the map and extra download content for the year (cheaper than buying the map packs as they are released at 12.99 a pop. I've now effectively bought the game twice! They know people don't buy the game for the Campaign mode alone! What a racket!
Robichoico's avatar
Robichoico 4 years ago
To be honest there's a lot of things that need to be looked into. gaming wise. How the hell EA got away with their FIFA 13 scandal on the Vita/Wii/Wii U last year I have no idea. Nintendo apparently had their adverts pulled due to them advertising off-screen play (and that it doesn't work with every game) and Microsoft were sitting advertising exclusive Resident Evil 6 DLC that didn't exist for a good few months. The fact that Skyrim STILL doesn't work over 2 years after release on the PS3 should be addressed too. I can understand day 1 bugs and even after a few month. But this one is just taking the mickey. Everyone should just sue who actually bought Aliens tho lol
Pyroloveridge's avatar
Pyroloveridge 4 years ago
Yeah Aliens... speechless

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