EU regulators take action on the problems associated with mobile apps and their microtransactions
Mobile games are massively popular, but many of these games may be marketed under false pretenses that they are free. In the U.S., federal regulators are pushing for mobile platforms to curb the growing problem of young children making unauthorized purchases through mobile applications. In the European Union, regulators have begun following suit, taking steps to ensure that apps that feature microtransactions are no longer marketed as free and purchases made through these applications are appropriately authorized.
Microtransactions are leading to unauthorized in-app purchases
Microtransactions have become a very common aspect of the mobile app world. In mobile gaming, in-app purchases are one of the best ways for developers to generate revenue from their creations. In these games, players can often purchase upgrades or buy digital currency that can be used to unlock special content. Because mobile games are particularly popular among children and young adults, unauthorized purchases have become a problematic issue.
Games cannot be marketed as free if they also include microtransactions
The EU Consumer Protection Cooperation Network has determined that games that are advertised as free cannot also have microtransactions. Google, Apple, and other providers of mobile games will have to remove such games from their store platforms in the European Union. Google has had a somewhat cavalier response to the ruling and has begun taking steps to weed out such games from its store platform, but Apple has been less inclined to accommodate the new rules.
Issue has more to do with marketing rather than microtransactions themselves
The European Commission notes that Apple has yet to take any sufficient action on the matter. Apple has proposed its intention to address the issue of microtransactions, but has not yet made any effort to do so. These transactions are a major revenue stream for app stores, allowing these stores to generate profit for their parent company. Some argue that microtransactions are vital to the growth and survival of mobile games, but the issue is mostly about marketing and not about an application’s ability to generate profit.