British authorities are investigating web and phone games aimed at children, because many of them seem to be nothing more than cheeky ways of ripping off those who don’t know better.
The Office of Fair Trading wants to find out whether the games put “undue pressure” on kids to pay for additional content. They typical honey trap looks something like this: download a free game, play a few levels, then spend shedloads on virtual items to progress through higher levels.
It all sounds fair on paper, but in reality many “free” games can end up costing more than a proper AAA title to complete. The fact that in-app purchases are so simple means that even five-year-old kids can run up huge bills.
And it is getting worse. Regulator PhonePayPlus told the BBC that it has witnessed a 300 percent increase in complaints from consumers who were ripped off by the supposedly free games.
Now the Office of Fair Trading wants to find whether the games are misleading, commercially aggressive or otherwise unfair. It probably shouldn’t take long, because they are.