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UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) publishes guidance for gamers

1 April 2014

Following an investigation into the on-line games industry, the OFT has published its guidance entitled 'Principles for on-line and app-based games' and given industry until 1 April 2014 to comply.

In April 2013, the OFT launched an investigation into the ways in which on-line and app-based games encouraged children to make purchases as well as clarifying compliance with consumer protection law in the UK.

Following its investigations and consultation, the OFT came to the conclusion that some games included potentially unfair and aggressive commercial practices. 

An example given was that some games imply that the player can be letting other players or characters down if they do not obtain an item or icon by making an in-game purchase.

The principles that now have to be complied with are:

  1. clear information must be given about the costs associated with the game before the user begins to play, download or sign up
  2. information about the game and terms of use should be clear, accurate and prominently up front
  3. information about the publisher of the game and its contact details should be provided
  4. any commercial intent regarding in-game promotions and advertising should be clear and distinguishable from game play itself
  5. a game should not mislead consumers as to the requirement or otherwise to make in game purchases
  6. games should not include practices that have the ability to exploit a child's inherent inexperience
  7. a game should not include direct exhortations to make children purchase in-game content
  8. payment should not be taken from the payment account holder unless authorised.

App manufacturers and games companies should take note of these changes and review their terms and conditions immediately.

This article was written by Robert Bond.

For more information contact Robert on +44 (0)20 7427 6660 or robert.bond@crsblaw.com