OFT to Investigate Apps aimed at Children

An investigation has finally been launched by the Office of Fair Trading into free App-based games, such Apps are initially free to download and use however later require payments for additional content and features. The OFT seeks to clarify whether these games unfairly pressure and persuade children (and in turn parents) to make purchases in breach of the Consumer Protection (from Unfair Trading) Regulations 2008.

The Investigation

  • The OFT has contacted the companies offering such Apps in order to gather information on the in-game marketing to children.
  • The OFT has also asked parents, children and consumer groups to provide information on potentially deceptive and commercially exploitative Apps they have knowledge of.
  • The OFT shall look into whether the full cost of such games is made sufficiently clear before they are accessed or downloaded and aim to establish whether users would download such games if the prices are sufficiently apparent at the start of the purchasing process.

The OFT Senior Director for Goods and Consumer commented

“the OFT is asking information form key players in the sector, including games developers and games hosting services, as well as consumer and parenting groups. The information will be used to understand business practices in this sector, to establish whether consumer protection regulations are being breached and if so what the consumer harm is”

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