by Joe White
May 17, 2014
Apple, Google, and Amazon are all under investigation from an Italian antitrust regulator concerning the three companies’ use of in-app purchases (IAPs) in mobile applications. As The Wall Street Journal explains, Italy’s Antitrust and Competition Authority noted on Friday that it’s also investigating Gameloft, the French mobile developer known for offering countless “freemium” titles on the App Store. Of course, such games are free to download and install, but go on to encourage users to unlock additional content – such as levels, abilities, and currency like the now-infamous “smurfberries” (pictured above) – for a fee. In a recent statement, the regulator said:
Consumers could be led to think, contrary to reality, that a game is completely free and therefore they don’t know ahead of time the game’s true cost. It appears also that there is a lack of information regarding how to exclude or limit the possibility of making a purchase inside the app.Apple was recently forced to “fix” IAPs in its App Store following a ruling from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). A 15-minute “no-password window” allows users – and most often young children – to make subsequent IAPs in an iOS application for 15 minutes after a password has been entered without having to re-enter this password. Cupertino responded by warning customers about this 15-minute window in iOS 7.1, and in March Apple offered refunds to customers who’d suffered unauthorized IAPs on their account. For Italy’s Antitrust and Competition Authority, however, such action may not be enough. The regulator is expected to conclude its investigation of Apple, Google, Amazon, and Gameloft by the end of the year. We’ll keep you updated with further information as we receive it. In the meantime, see: Report: Apple And Google Call A Truce To Patent Warfare, Enjoy The Spooky Thrill Of Atari’s Haunted House Platformer On iOS, and Loot Pursuit: Pompeii Makes Math A Thrilling Ancient Roman Adventure.