Italian government investigating the case of fremium mobile games

May 20, 2014
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If the words "in-app purchase" or IAP sends shivers down your bones every time you encounter it, possibly multiple times in a day, fear not for Italy has got your back. The country's antitrust authority is now looking into app store owners Google, Apple, Amazon, and even game developer Gameloft for their part in spreading what it deems to be misleading, but quite lucrative, free-to-play games.

Mobile gaming has given rise to a new style of business when it comes to games. Or actually, it has taken what were once known as trialware, demoware, and shareware to the 21st century, resulting in one of the easiest ways to make a money these days. Remember Flappy Bird? Worried about consumers' protection, the Italian agency is now taking a deeper look into games that advertise themselves upfront as free-to-play, but will require monetary investment to finish the game, or even get through half of it.

The investigation will be wading through very murky waters. The freemium business model is relatively new and, thus, quite undefined. It can include a varied number of games that apply IAP in equally varied, and sometimes sensible, ways. It covers games that will let you play through the entire game for free but will offer perks and bonuses to get an advantage, not unlike MMOs that predate the mobile gaming surge. It also covers games that explicitly inform you that a certain and sometimes significant portion of the game can only be unlocked via real-world cash. But it also does include a good number of games that make it extremely difficult if not impossible to progress through the game without having to cash out, either for new content, bonuses, or even the ability to cut down progress time from, say, 2 hours to 2 minutes. Many of the latter games are, unfortunately, quite addictive. And like any addiction, it costs money.

With that broad category of games, the Itialian government faces a gargantuan task, but the biggest question lies in the outcome of the investigation. Should the antitrust body find those companies guilty, they could simply be fined, a punishment that most of them can easily meet. The even bigger issue will be whether it will have any effect on the gaming industry as a whole. While the freemium model has become a haven for enterprising entities to take advantage of human weakness for the sake of profit, it has also become a valid means for many to monetize their hard work and their products. And lastly, the Italian government's findings and actions might be effective within its jurisdiction, but it might hardly cause a ripple in a virtual domain with almost no borders.

VIA: Android Police http://www.androidpolice.com/2014/05/17/italy-investigates-google-apple-amazon-and-gameloft-for-misleading-free-to-play-games/
Italian government investigating the case of fremium mobile games

If the words "in-app purchase" or IAP sends shivers down your bones every time you encounter it, possibly multiple times in a day, fear not for Italy has got your back. The country's antitrust authority is now looking into app store owners Google, Apple, Amazon, and even game developer Gameloft for their part in spreading what it deems to be misleading, but quite lucrative, free-to-play games.

Mobile gaming has given rise to a new style of business when it comes to games. Or actually, it has taken what were once known as trialware, demoware, and shareware to the 21st century, resulting in one of the easiest ways to make a money these days. Remember Flappy Bird? Worried about consumers' protection, the Italian agency is now taking a deeper look into games that advertise themselves upfront as free-to-play, but will require monetary investment to finish the game, or even get through half of it.

The investigation will be wading through very murky waters. The freemium business model is relatively new and, thus, quite undefined. It can include a varied number of games that apply IAP in equally varied, and sometimes sensible, ways. It covers games that will let you play through the entire game for free but will offer perks and bonuses to get an advantage, not unlike MMOs that predate the mobile gaming surge. It also covers games that explicitly inform you that a certain and sometimes significant portion of the game can only be unlocked via real-world cash. But it also does include a good number of games that make it extremely difficult if not impossible to progress through the game without having to cash out, either for new content, bonuses, or even the ability to cut down progress time from, say, 2 hours to 2 minutes. Many of the latter games are, unfortunately, quite addictive. And like any addiction, it costs money.

With that broad category of games, the Itialian government faces a gargantuan task, but the biggest question lies in the outcome of the investigation. Should the antitrust body find those companies guilty, they could simply be fined, a punishment that most of them can easily meet. The even bigger issue will be whether it will have any effect on the gaming industry as a whole. While the freemium model has become a haven for enterprising entities to take advantage of human weakness for the sake of profit, it has also become a valid means for many to monetize their hard work and their products. And lastly, the Italian government's findings and actions might be effective within its jurisdiction, but it might hardly cause a ripple in a virtual domain with almost no borders.

VIA: Android Police


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