App games should not pressure children to pay for additional in-game content, warns the Office of Fair Trading, which has published a new report today.
It has set out eight principles for game developers to follow, which state that consumers should be told upfront about possible in-game costs, advertising and information on how their personal data is used.
Smartphone, tablet and online titles have come under criticism over the past few years, with some parents receiving bills for hundreds of pounds after their kids paid for extra in-game items. The OFT says payments should only be made if parents have given consent.
38 games were investigated and the OFT believes that commercial practices of this nature are "likely to breach consumer protection law". It warns that companies in the games market need to implement changes to ensure full compliance with their legal obligations.
Cavendish Elithorn, OFT Executive Director, said: "This is a new and innovative industry that has grown very rapidly in recent years, but it needs to ensure it is treating consumers fairly and that children are protected.
"These principles provide a clear benchmark for how games makers should be operating. Once they are finalised, we will expect the industry to follow them, or risk enforcement action.
"In the meantime, we want to hear what parents, consumer groups, industry and anyone else with an interest thinks about our principles before we finalise them later this year."
Image source: Shutterstock (girls play on tablet device)