Thanks to action from the European Commission, Google will no longer allow app developers to falsely advertise their "free-to-play" games on the Google Play Store. The move is currently limited to countries in the European Union, but it provides the infrastructure for a similar change to be made in the United States, where the problem is equally rampant. The Commission has requested Apple to make the same change, but the company has yet to respond with concrete plans to do so.
A press release from the European Commission detailed the process of bringing about this shift in advertising standards. According to the release, a large number of consumers were complaining about the advertising strategies of companies marketing "freemium" and "free-to-play" games. Following these complaints, the Commission asked:
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.
Reportedly, Google has agreed to various changes concerning their advertising standards, and will have them fully implemented by September 2014. Among these changes, companies will no longer be able to use the word "free" in their ads if there are any in-app purchases within their game.
The change is significant, especially on the heels of EA's minor fiasco concerning the advertising used for their mobile game, Dungeon Keeper. With changes like these in place, consumers will now be able to know exactly what they're getting when they decide to download a new app.