David Stuart

Mobile games hitting children with hidden charges

More than three quarters of 340 "app games" in prominent online stores do not tell their target market, child gamers, that there can be charges associated with playing the games.

A sweep of the games in Google Play and Apple App stores by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission warned of the need to protect consumers from the charges.

The commission found many free games did not have "adequate disclosures" about the costs of application-based games.

Have you had unexpected charges from your Children's games?

This poll ended on 09 December 2014.

Current Results

I've had some serious issues with in-app purchases

52%

I've had close calls but nothing serious

17%

I've never had any problems with in-app purchases

30%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Deputy chairwoman Delia Rickard said many games "make it clear that you can get ahead or avoid getting bogged down if you shell out for in-app purchases".

"Children exposed to this won't always connect a tap on the screen in the heat of the action with spending their parents' money in the real world," she said.

Of the 340 apps analysed in the sweep, the commission found less than 20% of children's "free" apps included information on how to restrict devices from such "inadvertent in-app purchases".

"While there are some optional tools available to parents to restrict purchases, the ACCC and consumer regulators across the globe are looking together at whether people really know what to expect before the game is downloaded," Ms Rickard said.

The commission is investigating concerns about misleading conduct in relation to apps.


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