Whenever a new game gets released in any of the major mobile app stores people will often download it immediately as long as it is free. But is it really free? Apparently not since most of these games operate on the free to play concept. This means that downloading the game is free but then it will be offering in-app purchases to users, which for instance requires players to buy certain items to let them continue playing the game.
Italy has had enough of this practice and its antitrust authority has currently launched an investigation against Google, Apple, and Amazon, and game publisher Gameloft for unfair practices. The investigation will try to determine if the four mentioned companies are deceiving customers by advertising that games are free when in fact purchases are required at a certain point.
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when in fact purchases iving customers pt. ee? ’s antitrust watchdog said that “Consumers could wrongly believe that the game is entirely free and, in any case, that they would know in advance the full costs of the game. Moreover, insufficient information seems to be provided to consumers about the settings needed to stop or limit the purchases within the app.”
All companies involved declined to comment on this issue save for Gameloft which announced that the company will be looking into this matter.
The investigation is expected to be wrapped up within 7 to 8 months. The maximum fine of 5 million euros or $6.9 million could be imposed on each company if they are found guilty.
Earlier this year a similar investigation was also conducted by the European Commission which required companies to revise the way they advertise their apps which can be downloaded for free but later on requires purchases. The commission says that more than half of the games available in the European Union are free but later on comes at a cost.