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Apple and Google meet with European Commission to discuss in-app purchases

Meeting hoping to find a "mutual understanding" over whether free-to-play games with in-app purchases mislead consumers.

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The European Commission is meeting with Apple, Google, and various European consumer authorities to discuss free-to-play games and their associated in-app purchases.

The group, which finishes its two-day discussions today, is aiming to debate four main issues raised by consumers:

  • Games advertised as “free” should not mislead consumers about the true costs involved.
  • Games should not contain direct exhortations 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 and purchases 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.

The European Commission is an executive body of the European Union, and is tasked with proposing legislation alongside the smooth running of the EU. In outlining its next steps, the group says it hopes to come to a "mutual understanding" with the games industry over its practices regarding in-app purchases.

It also states that Europe's "app economy" employs over 1 million people and is expected to be worth €63bn (£51bn/$86bn) in the next five years.

This meeting follows a recent report by the UK's Office of Fair Trading, which set out eight guidelines that developers should follow in order to make their games more transparent about fees and charges.

Apple also found itself in a bit of a pickle last month when the US Federal Trade Commission ordered the tech giant to pay out at least $32.5 million in refunds to consumers whose children made purchases without their consent.

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