The free-to-play party is over. Can’t say it was great while it lasted.
You have to hand it to the video game industry — only they could take the term “free” and turn it into a bad thing. Free-to-play games that nickel and dime (or dollar) players who actually want to accomplish anything — or worse, try to snooker money out of unsuspecting children — have been a problem for some time, and recently the European Union decided enough was enough.
The EU assembled a commission to study free-to-play games, and late last week, they handed down a verdict the free-to-play industry won’t like at all. Here’s the EU’s recommendations…
- Games advertised as “free” should not mislead consumers about the true costs involved.
- Games should not contain direct exhortation to children to buy items in a game or to persuade an adult to buy items for them.
- Consumers should be adequately informed about the payment arrangements for purchases and should not be debited through default settings without consumers’ explicit consent.
- Traders should provide an email address so that consumers can contact them in case of queries or complaints.
Google has promised the Google Play store will remove the “free” designation by September, and that all games will require authentication every time a purchase is made in the future. Apple has not laid out a specific plan for dealing with the EU’s recommendations, but they have promised they will.
So yeah, technically free-to-play style games can continue, but these new rules are going to put a major, major hamper on the way most of them do business. Sorry guys, the money grab is over.