4T2: Industry must take responsibility for IAPs in kids' games

4T2: Industry must take responsibility for IAPs in kids' games
Will Freeman

By Will Freeman

April 18th 2013 at 1:25PM

Mike Hawkyard on how and why developers should prevent youngsters' overspending through in-app purchasing

Speaking at today's F2P Summit 4T2 Media founding partner Mike Hawkyard has called for the games industry to be responsible and work together to make sure IAP monetisation does not exploit youngsters playing children's games.

His comments came in response to recent news that the UK Government's Office of Fair Trading is scrutinising the practices of those aiming IAP-monetised games at children.

"As an industry, we do need to all look at this and we do all need to be more responsible," said Hawkyard on the matter.

Hawkyard also revealed that, as 4T2's client Lego is a commercially successful company, its prime objective with its 4T2-developed games was not to generate cash, but to establish the toy giant as an entertainment brand.

"Our pure objective for Lego and for us was to make a better game," explained Hawkyard. "So what we did to try and be responsible was this – and if you do this, you may come across many barriers: We limited purchases, we had a top purchase of £1.49, we did not monetise consumables, […] we made a clear request to ask for bill payers' permission, and we made information about purchases clearly available in the App Store."

Hawkyard, who presented a talk that saw the audience throwing paper aeroplanes and playing games on stage, also offered simple advice for those designing free-to-play games.

"Don't put your game in the kids category if you plan to monetise it in a way that isn't suitable for kids," he said.

While making clear he thought there was nothing wrong with making money ethically from youngsters' games through IAP, Hawkyard  later issued a call to action for the industry to come together to tackle the issue of responsible IAP use in children's games.

"Tiga and Ukie, I'm sure, will be tearing though all of this, so if you're a member let them know your views," said Hawkyard. "We all need to come together on this."

4T2 has made a number of web and mobile games for Lego, along with several other brand clients.