New regime on way for online games - Palmers Solicitors

New regime on way for online games

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has given games producers a 1 April deadline to ensure their games do not breach consumer protection law.

The OFT published a set of principles for online and in-app games on 30 January, which make it clear that consumers must be told upfront about costs associated with a game or about in-game advertising.

The principles also make it clear that in-game payments are not authorised, and should not be taken, unless the payment account holder, such as a parent, has given his or her express, informed consent. Businesses that fail to comply with the principles, which have been developed following an OFT investigation and consultation, could risk enforcement action.

OFT chief executive Clive Maxwell said: “The on-line and apps based games industry has already made significant improvements during our consultation process. But it still needs to do more to protect children and treat its customers fairly.

“Our principles make clear the type of practices that games makers and platform operators should avoid.”

The OFT will close on 31 March and its work and responsibilities pass to other bodies, including the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

CMA chief executive Alex Chisholm said: “Once the CMA acquires its powers in April 2014, we will pick up from where the OFT has left off. The CMA will continue to monitor the market to check whether the industry is complying with its legal obligations.”

Traders in the industry should make sure they are compliant with the principles, ahead of the 1 April deadline or for more information, please contact BJ Chong at Palmers.