Google has altered the way in which it displays free-to-play game listings on the Google Play store following pressure from the European Commission.
A host of titles such as Angry Birds and Dungeon Hunter 4 which were listed as ‘free' last week now no longer carry a price tag – from this point on the word will never be used in conjunction with games that use microtransactions.
Develop reports that the Consumer Protection Cooperation network is now pushing through the following guidelines:
- 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.
While Google is playing ball Apple is proving less co-operative, however – although it has previously complied with new regulations in the US.
"This is the very first enforcement action of its kind in which the European Commission and national authorities joined forces," said EU commissioner for consumer policy Neven Mimica. "I am happy to see that it is delivering tangible results.
"This is significant for consumers. 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 consumers rights in the Union. It has demonstrated that co-operation pays off and helps to improve the protection of consumers in all Member States."