The European Commission has issued some words to Google and Apple about both companies’ steps to ensure children don’t rack up huge amounts of money on in-app purchases without their parents’ permission.
In a statement released by the Commission on Friday, Google is praised for a series of changes that will be put in effect by the end of September — while Apple finds itself on the receiving end of some harsh criticism.
If you’re an iOS gamer, chances are you’re fed up of games loaded to the gunwales with in-app purchases. The so-called “freemium” trend for games is annoying for two main reasons: One, in many cases it makes games virtually unplayable if you won’t shell out the extra cash for IAPs. Two, it’s misleading because the games aren’t really “free” at all, any more than you could say that it’s free to go to the theater, but you have to pay cash if you want to actually watch a movie.
It’s this second point that antitrust authorities in Italy are taken issue with, under the heading of unfair commercial practices. They’re investigating Apple, Google and Amazon, alongside French game developer Gameloft, for allegedly misleading customers by advertising mobile game apps as free, when they actually require purchases in order to be played beyond a certain point.
Has your child bankrupted you in Smurfberries? Had a child who maxed out your credit card on in-app purchases? Good news. Apple is now writing to some iTunes account holders, telling them they may be liable for a refund.
Are you a parent who nearly lost his or her mind and committed an act of infanticide when you discovered that your happy little sprog, in the space of five minutes playing unsupervised with your iPhone, somehow amassed an iTunes bill of over $1,000 in frickin’ Smurfberries? Well, Apple’s ready to help you, but even if you were only burnt for less than $30 because of the way in-app purchases used to work, Apple is ready to fork over a $5 iTunes gift card as a way o make amends… and settle a class-action lawsuit.