Skip to main content

Google to stop calling games with in-app purchases ‘free’

Google assured the European Union that it will no longer list games with in-app purchases as “free” on the Google Play Store, by the end of September. Google’s new policy comes after a flurry of lawsuits and complaints from irate customers and parents over expensive in-app purchases.

On Friday, the EU issued a report, detailing all the rules it would like app developers and app stores to follow, in regard to in-app purchases. The guide, which was sent to Apple and Google, recommends the following policies:

  • Games advertised as “free” should not mislead consumers about the true costs involved.
  • Games should not contain direct exhortation to children to buy items in a game or to persuade an adult to buy items for them.
  • Consumers should be adequately informed about the payment arrangements for purchases and should not be debited through default settings without consumers’ explicit consent.
  • Traders should provide an email address so that consumers can contact them in case of queries or complaints.

Google promptly agreed to stop listing games with in-app purchases as free in the Play Store and said that verification will be required for every purchase. The company did not specify whether the new policy applied to all countries where the Play Store is available, or only in European Union countries.

Meanwhile, the EU accused Apple of dilly dallying on updating its in-app purchase policy.

“Regrettably, no concrete and immediate solutions have been made by Apple to date to address the concerns linked in particular to payment authorization,” the organization said in a statement. “Apple has proposed to address those concerns. However, no firm commitment and no timing have been provided for the implementation of such possible future changes.”

Apple defended itself in a statement made to the BBC, where it claimed that it’s doing “more than others” to rectify its wrongs when it comes to in-app purchases.

“These controls go far beyond the features of others in the industry,” a spokesman told the BBC. “But we are always working to strengthen the protections we have in place, and we’re adding great new features with iOS 8, such as Ask to Buy, giving parents even more control over what their kids can buy on the App Store.”

Apple did not offer any specifics about its new policies, nor did it say that it will stop listing games with in-app purchases as free in the App Store. In January, Apple introduced a way to turn off in-app purchases for iOS 7 users.

Editors' Recommendations

Malarie Gokey
Former Digital Trends Contributor
As DT's Mobile Editor, Malarie runs the Mobile and Wearables sections, which cover smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and…
Google Messages vs. Samsung Messages: Which app should you use?
Google messages versus samsung messages app icons side by side on Galaxy Z Fold 5.

Amid the rise of third-party messaging apps, texting remains a popular means of messaging in the U.S. If you own an Android phone, you've likely used or heard of Google Messages, which is positioned as the default text messaging app for Android. It is the culmination of Google's long history with multiple messaging platforms. Google has pursued smartphone companies to use its Dialer and Messages apps as their default since at least 2017 and now mandates them to use Google Messages as the default messaging app on all devices.

Meanwhile, if you have been a Samsung user in the past, you have likely also known and experienced the Samsung Messages app, which comes preinstalled on all Samsung phones and cannot be uninstalled. This is despite losing its spot as the default messaging app on Samsung Galaxy smartphones.

Read more
How to use Google’s Gemini AI app on your Android phone
How to use Gemini on your Android.based device.

Google's collaboration AI tool, Bard, has changed its name and is now known as Gemini. The tool is also now available as an app on the Google Play Store, meaning it's easier than ever to chat with Google's AI assistant on your Android phone.

Read more
Google is launching a powerful new AI app for your Android phone
Google Gemini app on Android.

Remember Bard, Google’s answer to ChatGPT? Well, it is now officially called Gemini. Also, all those fancy AI features that previously went by the name Duet AI have been folded under the Gemini branding. In case you haven’t been following up all the AI development flood, the name is derived from the multi-modal large language model of the same name.

To go with the renaming efforts, Google has launched a standalone Gemini app on Android. Moreover, the Gemini experience is also being made available to iPhone users within the Google app on iOS. But wait, there’s more.

Read more