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You are here: MacNN Forums > News > Tech News > Amazon, Apple, Google reach deal with Italy on 'free-to-play' apps

Amazon, Apple, Google reach deal with Italy on 'free-to-play' apps
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MacNN Staff
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Jan 30, 2015, 01:09 PM
Major app store operators Amazon, Apple, and Google -- as well as French publisher Gameloft -- have reached a deal with Italy's Antitrust and Competition Authority that will let them avoid fines for misleading people about so-called "free-to-play" or "freemium" apps. The Wall Street Journal reports that the companies have agreed to remove the word "free" from apps that may require in-app payments to be useful. The parties have also committed to making it clearer when a person is about to make an in-app purchase. All of the changes will be applied across the European Union.

The ACA began investigating the matter last May, after a complaint from an Italian consumer association, as well as separate statements from EU officials urging companies to fix problems with the freemium model. The scheme is most often employed by mobile game publishers and developers, who can make a title free to download, but with slowed progress unless a person is willing to pay real-world money for in-game currency, objects, or level unlocks.

In many instances, parents have complained about their children racking up hundreds or thousands of dollars in credit card bills, particularly since under the right circumstances, iOS and Android -- as well as game developers -- can make those transactions virtually invisible to the user. Apple recently changed its "free" branding to "get" in its worldwide App Stores, apparently anticipating the direction of the Italian deal (which affects the entire EU).

Had the companies not made concessions, they could have been fined up to €5 million (US$5.6 million) each, the exact amount being proportionate to business size. That could have lowered the penalty for Gameloft, but not the other three corporations.
( Last edited by NewsPoster; Feb 1, 2015 at 06:08 AM. )
Flying Meat
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Jan 30, 2015, 03:07 PM
Good. I hope this will spread as a global standard.
Mac Elite
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Jan 30, 2015, 07:37 PM
I think they should go after the developer, not after the distributor... even then, it should not be a matter of law.. the app is free.. if you can't do anything useful without paying, just uninstall it and curse the developer...
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