iOS firm reacts to increased scrutiny on free-to-play games

App Store search results now display in-app purchase warnings

Apple’s App Stpre now displays in-app purchase warnings in its search results.

Following the iOS 7.1 update, a message appears next to the game’s title to state it "offers in-app purchases". Previously this text had only been displayed on the app page.

The change comes after the UK Office of Fair Trading released principles clarifying the law surrounding in-app purchases in games.

It also comes as the European Commission announced it was discussing free-to-play with platform holders and publishers after receiving a number of complaints from across the region.

The EC stressed that games advertised as free should not mislead consumers about the true costs involved, nor should they contain direct exhortations to children to buy items in a game or to persuade an adult to buy items for them.

The intensifying focus on free-to-play and in-app purchases could lead to a tightening of the laws governing the sector if it is ultimately deemed developers and platform holders are not being up front about the nature of ‘free’ and in-app purchases.

Apple has previously attempted to tackle the matter following the OFT’s initial announcement of its investigation into the use of IAPs in children’s games in April last year.

The iOS firm released a guide to IAPs on the front page of the App Store on iPad, detailing how the business model works, its different forms and how transactions can take place.

A quick link on the App Store home page can still be found for users to learn about microtransactions.

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