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Portables (Games) Businesses The Almighty Buck Games

FTC To Examine Microtransactions In Free-To-Play Games and Apps 125

A post at GamePolitics points out that the Federal Trade Commission will be looking into free-to-play mobile games that rely on internal microtransactions as a business model. Many such games are marketed for children, and there have been a spate of cases where kids racked up huge bills without their parents' knowledge or explicit consent. "The in-app purchases have also catapulted children's games such as Smurfs' Village and Tap Zoo, by San Francisco-based Pocket Gems, into the ranks of the highest-grossing apps on iPods, iPhones and iPads. But the practice is troubling parents and public interest groups, who say $99 for a wagon of Smurfberries or $19 for a bucket of snowflakes doesn't have any business in a children's game. Though a password is needed to make a purchase, critics say that the safeguards aren't strong enough and that there are loopholes. 'Parents need to know that the promotion of games and the delivery mechanism for them are deceptively cheap,' said Jim Styer, president of Common Sense Media, a public advocacy group for online content for children. 'But basically people are trying to make money off these apps, which is a huge problem, and only going to get bigger because mobile apps are the new platform for kids.'"
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FTC To Examine Microtransactions In Free-To-Play Games and Apps

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  • Re:Gambling (Score:4, Informative)

    by Divide By Zero ( 70303 ) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @08:36AM (#35298596)
    I'd +1 Interesting if I had any points, but since I don't, I'll offer this:

    Even if you can buy "gold" for money, can you sell "gold" and get dollars/euros/etc. back out? I think the problem with the gambling laws is getting cash money for winning the game of chance - if it all stays in the game ecosystem, I don't think it counts. I know Entropia has this mechanic, and they seem to have skirted the law, but I don't know how. If you can sell EQ2 in-game money for real money, this is the first I've heard of it.

  • by Xenious ( 24845 ) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @10:07AM (#35299234)

    Settings->Restrictions->In-App Purchases and turn it Off. Problem solved with no parental excuses. While there are there might as well setup any other restrictions that are needed.

  • Re:Gambling (Score:4, Informative)

    by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @11:47AM (#35300508) Journal

    This is a storm that's been brewing for years now. On EQ2 servers they sold in-game money for real money, then once you were in the gave there was a goblin that was basically a slot machine...

    Unless they let you cash in the game money for real money, it would not be the same as slot machine. If you could sell your jackpot of game money winnings to other players, but not to the house, would it be counted as "cashing in the winnings"? Anyway as long as the real money goes only one way, it could be dumb, it could be lame, but it is not gambling.

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