By Ben Strauss
The FTC has announced that they will be looking into the practices of games that participate in the free-to-play model. The FTC claims that several politicians have complained over the lack of regulation and enforcement when it comes to young children purchasing content unknowingly.
The investigation will check if studios and developers are correctly identifying content that has to be purchased. A letter from Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) indicated that children were making purchases of in-game virtual items without parental consent.
The FTC will look into the matter on games present on the iOS platform. There are “raised concerns” over practices by developers, in which consumers might not fully be aware of the fact that they are making monetary purchases on apps.
“We fully share your concern that consumers, particularly children, are unlikely to understand the ramifications of these types of purchases,” said FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz. “Let me assure you we will look closely at the current industry practice with respect to the marketing and delivery of these types of applications.”
“After the Washington Post first broke this story earlier this month, I sent the Federal Trade Commission a letter calling on the agency to investigate the issue of ‘in-app’ purchases and provide additional information about the promotion and delivery of these applications to consumers, especially with respect to children,” Markey said in a statement about the FTC’s decision.
“What may appear in these games to be virtual coins and prizes to children result in very real costs to parents. I am pleased that the FTC has responded, and as the use of mobile apps continues to increase, I will continue to actively monitor developments in this important area.”
Apple has yet to respond to the investigation, but the FTC has confirmed that the letter was genuine.
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