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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:Price (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PhilHibbs ( 4537 ) <> on Thursday February 24, 2011 @04:38AM (#35297898) Homepage Journal

    Children can't be held to a contract. If a child is playing a game, and they make a purchase within that game, can they be held to it? This is an issue for adults as well, generally purchases are subject to a return period, does that apply to online transactions? If not, why not? Shouldn't I be able to return that $99 cartload of Smurfberries that my 11 year old clicked on?

  • Gambling (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @07:11AM (#35298464)
    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... They took the goblin out eventually, but that kind of misses the fact that if they are saying the in-game money has real value, the ENTIRE game is a slot machine.

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