Freemium Apps Will No Longer Use The Term 'Free' On Google Play Store According To Landmark EU Ruling

By Steve Buja , Updated Jul 21, 2014 09:08 AM EDT
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Of all the countless innovations the video game industry has seen in the last several years, none has been more infuriating than the 'free to play' moniker that many mobile games possess. When a dealer gives a free hit of drugs, that's technically 'free' too, but there's a much more insidious operation going on, isn't there?

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Well, Google Play, in a new statement, is removing the F2P term from its in store. Games will no longer carry the term if said games contain any in-app purchases, better known as 'freemium' content. The European Commission has recently put pressure on companies like Google and Apple to better inform folks, especially children, who are just awful with the concept of money, about the potential for in-app purchases among F2P games.

The Office of Fair Trade, based in the United Kingdom, has been looking into the use and exploitation of so-called 'micro-transactions'. They were the company that made the recommendations that consumers must be warned of any additional transactions that may occur when downloading a particular game.

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The EU Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) put out an announcement earlier, citing Google's decision. "Implementation is underway and will be completed by the end of September 2014. These include not using the word "free" at all when games contain in-app purchases, developing targeted guidelines for its app developers to prevent direct exhortation to children as defined under EU law and time-framed measures to help monitor apparent breaches of EU consumer laws. It has also adapted its default settings, so that payments are authorised prior to every in-app purchase, unless the consumer actively chooses to modify these settings."

As for Apple. "Although, regrettably, no concrete and immediate solutions have been made by Apple to date to address the concerns linked in particular to payment authorisation, Apple has proposed to address those concerns. However, no firm commitment and no timing have been provided for the implementation of such possible future changes."

Despite the overwhelming market share of Android devices, Google Play still struggles with games on its Marketplace. That should change in about 2018, but in the meantime, it is but a small victory for the voices of reason. Hopefully Apple will follow suit in time, as the backlash against F2P continues to gain steam.

The ruling currently only directly effects the EU, but will doubtless follow suit here in the States.

So, what do you think? Is this a step in the right direction or a curtailing of a company's freedoms?

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