Consumer protection for mobile games taking a step forward

The European Commission and EU consumer authorities have been discussing with the parties involved in the gaming industry about online and mobile game problems for the past year. As a result, Apple and Google have decided to change some of their practices.

Consumers throughout Europe have come across a number of problems with regard to online and mobile games. Games have been advertised as free, although it has not been possible to play them properly without features that you have to pay for.  Some children have accidentally and without their parent’s approval ended up with considerable bills. Gaming companies have also charged consumers’ credit cards without their knowing about it.

The European Commission and the EU’s network of consumer protection authorities, the Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) have been negotiating in 2014 with representatives of  Apple, Google and the Interactive Software Federation of Europe (ISFE). Companies have been urged take consumer rights into account in their operations.

Google and Apple agreed in July 2014 to communicate the actual costs of using their games and to identify underage customers. Following this, both companies have changed some of their other practices, too. Neither company will any longer use the word ‘free’ in connection with the game or download button if purchases are made in the game through applications. Both have also provided guidelines to applications developers about legal requirements and have either made or made a commitment to make changes to their billing systems.

The Commission and national consumer authorities welcome such commitments, but will remain vigilant and monitor that the companies also carry out the promised changes.

In-app purchases: European Commission and Member States welcome new proposals from main industry players, Commissions press release 22 December 2014

For further information (in finnish):

Google parantaa käytäntöjään internet- ja mobiilipeleissä – Applen kanssa neuvottelut jatkuvat, FCCA press release 21 August 2014

EU:n kuluttajaviranomaiset ja komissio: Mobiilipelien kuluttajansuoja saatava kuntoon, FCCA press release 27 February 2014