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Google To Retire The Term "Free-to-Play" After EU Pressure


Google To Retire The Term "Free-to-Play" After EU Pressure

Way back in February this year, the European Union’s executive branch launched an investigation into the marketing of “free-to-play” games in the wake of EA’s Dungeon Keeper Mobile getting criticized as “misleading” by UK marketing authorities. The investigation has lead to a lot of pressure being placed on Apple and Google by the European Commission regarding consumer awareness and misleading terms of use, such as “free-to-play”, pressure which today finally caused one of the two F2P giants to fold.

Google, in an announcement in conjunction with the Commission, has decided to retire the term “free” in description of games with in-app purchases. This, effectively, kills the term “free-to-play” when describing games on Google’s app store. Other changes in conjunction with the EU investigation’s concerns are a removal of enticements directed towards children to buy items in a game, and default payment settings are now set to where purchases need to be authorized.

Apple, however, has not made such a maneuver. From the press release, the Commission stated that “no concrete and immediate solutions have been made by Apple to date to address the concerns linked in particular to payment authorization…. Apple has proposed to address those concerns. However, no firm commitment and no timing have been provided for the implementation of such possible future changes. CPC authorities will continue to engage with Apple to ensure that it provides specific details of changes required and put its practices into line with the common position.”

This is following Apple’s dispute with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission last year over a lawsuit regarding in-app purchases on Apple products. Enforcement of the EU’s concerns is up to national authorities, including possible legal action.

So, you know, good news! The term “free-to-play” may be finally dying. Look for something that means exactly the same thing but only slightly less obfuscated to be announced soon.

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