The European Commission is meeting with Apple and Google this week to discuss concerns raised by consumer groups across Europe over in-app purchases in free-to-play games.
Also participating in the talks are policy makers, consumer protection authorities, and other industry organizations, Reuters reports.
Depending on the outcome of these discussions, game developers and publishers may soon be taken to task over games that are labelled as "free-to-play" but actually carry hidden costs. Despite the fact that most in-app purchases I've encountered are clearly labeled as such, sneaky automatic transactions are apparently prevalent enough for the European Commission to take notice.
The commission is reportedly discussing solutions like clearer explanations about IAPs, forbidding apps to urge users to spend money on upgrades, requiring explicit consent before a purchase can be made, and forcing companies to provide a direct email address to users.
"Misleading consumers is clearly the wrong business model and also goes against the spirit of EU rules on consumer protection," said European Union Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding. "The European Commission will expect very concrete answers from the app industry to the concerns raised by citizens and national consumer organizations."
Some free-to-play games can definitely be exploitative, but whether the government should get involved is a different discussion altogether. Either way it will be interesting to see what, if anything, comes of this.