Could Sonic Dash and Others Be Affected?
Citing research that claims 50 percent of the region’s online games market consists of free-to-play games, members of the European Commission, an arm of the European Union, met today over concerns F2P may be too deceiving to consumers.
According to an EU press release, the Commission will examine with developers ways to clearly address key concerns, including consumers possibly being misled and the ease of in-app purchases:
The four most important issues raised by consumers and which will be discussed at the meetings are :
- Games advertised as “free” should not mislead consumers about the true costs involved;
- Games should not contain direct exhortations 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 and purchases 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.
The Commission hopes to eventually “reach a common understanding with industry to address the concerns raised by consumers,” but binding action could still be taken.
Any changes in this field of EU policy has potential to change the way Sega does business in the mobile marketplace. Sonic Dash, already millions of downloads deep, may have to change how it alerts players about its store and make clearer that everything in-game can be earned for free, though it is far from the worst offender out there. Should Phantasy Star Online 2 ever see a Western release, that too could come under similar regulation. What this would mean for titles that require money up front, like Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed for mobile, is less clear, however.