UK Gov to Investigate ‘Aggressive’ In-app Purchases

Office of Fair Trading (OFT), UK, will be carrying out the investigation of games that include ‘commercially aggressive’ in-app purchases after a number of cases have been reported whereby parents have incurred huge bills after their kids have spent huge amounts on in-app purchases.

February, this year, saw 5-year old Danny Kitchen spending £1700 on in-app purchases while playing the otherwise free Zombies vs. Ninjas game. Similar was the case with Cameron Crossan unwittingly spent over £3700 on in-app purchases. We believe they could have averted it if they would have turned off in-app purchases in their iOS devices.

OFT wants to hear from parents who believe or have otherwise dealt with games / apps that push children to buy in-game content. Generally there are objects such as gems or coins within games, which if bought, will allow kids to advance through the games faster. Such tactics may lure kids to go ahead with in-app purchases.

Cavendish Elithorn, OFT’s Senior Director, said “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.” The government is not looking to ban in-app purchases but it wants to be sure that the game developers are complying with the relevant laws.

For more, see how to turn off in-app purchases in iPhone.