The OFT has announced it is to investigate free smartphone and online games that offer in-app purchases.
Cavendish Elithorn, senior director for goods and consumer for the OFT, commented: “We are concerned that children and their parents could be subject to unfair pressure to purchase when they are playing games they thought were free, but which can actually run up substantial costs.”
It’s become an issue at the forefront of parents’ minds when they’re tablet shopping.
InspirationWorks, the developer of Kurio, the popular Android tablet for families, is already working to ensure that apps within the Kurio App Store do not feature in-app purchases at all, or that the buying of these elements is fully controlled.
When games offer in-app purchasing, parents can utilise the KurioGenius Parental Controls in order to allow or block IAPs within apps. This can be set per profile, dependent on preference and the age of the user.
Plus the Kurio App Store will allow children to have their own accounts, which are separate to their parents’, to enable them to buy and download apps and purchase items through IAPs using their own ‘piggy bank’ which parents can add funds to – or not, if they prefer.
Craig Asling, software and gaming manager at InspirationWorks UK, explained: “We’ve covered every angle in keeping IAPs at a safe level for children using Kurio. Parents are in full control of all spending, to avoid any nasty surprise bills.
“The controls also mean that children are protected from marketing and pressure while playing, ensuring they are in a safe, child-friendly environment at all times.”
Tracey Devine, UK marketing director, for InspirationWorks UK, said: “More and more parents are aware of the dangers of children using the internet with no protection, but the app market is more of an unknown area for them and increasing numbers are getting a nasty surprise when their bills come through. Parents can rest assured that by giving their children a Kurio, this won’t happen.”