Trade bodies call for consistent global approach
UKIE and TIGA have commended the Office of Fair Trading for its newly published principles governing the implementation and advertising of in-app purchases in online and mobile games.
The new rules, to be enforced from April 1st this year, state developers and publishers must be upfront on whether a game includes microtransactions, whether in contains in-game advertising and if it will share personal data with third parties.
UK industry trade bodies UKIE and TIGA have said it is important for developers to be in compliance with the law, and further clarity on the matter can help them meet legal and ethical standards in relation to children's games.
“We need to make sure we balance the opportunity and growth of innovative business models in the industry with sensible measures to protecting players," said UKIE CEO Jo Twist.
"We are pleased to see the OFT recognise that parents need to be more aware of and use parental controls that are available on devices. Protecting consumers is a shared responsibility across those who make and sell games, as well as parents and carers.
“Done responsibly, microtransaction based business models give choice and value for both players and businesses. Flexibility for companies to operate different business models is crucial, and it is good to see the OFT recognise this. We will work with the OFT on briefing sessions for games companies to better understand the application of the principles.”
TIGA CEO Richard Wilson praised the guidelines for providing a distinction on where the responsibility lies between games businesses and the platform holders, and has called the OFT to work with its counterparts across the globe to adapt a standard approach to the market.
"It’s encouraging to see our recommendations on the need for absolute transparency at the payment and platform owner level, and our call for clarity regarding where responsibility lies between games businesses and platform owners, have been taken into account," he said.
"It's also encouraging just how much progress has already been made by both developers and platform owners in the UK, in bringing the market up to date with these principles. The complexity and pace of change in the app and digital ecosystem means there will inevitably be further examples and guidance needed to achieve full compliance. Yet by and large the OFT’s work will be of great value to all our UK developers who want to be part of a fair and sustainable video game industry.
“What is now essential is for the OFT to work with its counterparts in the EU, the USA and across the globe to adopt a common approach to the F2P market. The UK’s mobile and online games developers represent a small fraction of the global F2P development industry. To effectively protect both UK consumers and UK businesses, we must avoid these regulations becoming misaligned with the rest of the world, or risk damaging our culturally and artistically rich, high tech and highly skilled video game industry.”