EU delivers pre-emptive slap for purchasing in free Apps

freemium

When is free, not free? Or free, kinda, but not quite all the time. Except… mostly. Yep, we’re talking about those apps and games which are built around the freemium model. There’s more than one way to build a freemium app.

The first way is to build a free app and to support yourself, you put advertising in unless the user of the app pays… this doesn’t bother the EU. I don’t know why, but for whatever reason, it doesn’t. To explain the second option, imagine you’re playing a game and to level up, you either have to be patient… or pay some money to power up. Or get some extra plants in your garden. Or even to get a couple of extra lives or just a couple more seconds.

This is the freemium model that the EU has cracked down on. Whether you’re an Apple or Android user, from now on, apps on either of the two platforms have to be completely open and honest in whether the app allows you to purchase the equivalent of add-ons. Seriously – it’s a law now. If you have the option to pay for more (or less if you no longer want as interrupting the bottom row of your app or between levels, or whatever), then the app market you buy it from has to make sure you’re aware of it with some type of big, bold, prominent sign.

Yeah, some of you are wondering why this is. Imagine you’re a parent. Imagine you give your child your tablet or phone to pacify them for an hours long road trip so you can concentrate on the road for a while. Imagine they buy a biiiiiig heap of add-ons that run into the tens, of hundreds of pounds because your child didn’t realise that those extra plants/power ups/whatever actually constituted real money. This is the scenario that the EU is attempting to stop.

There are differing opinions on this. Some people think that this is long overdue. Some people are of the opinion that if you’re going to give your £400-£500 device to your child, then you should be aware that: they could accidentally drop it/break it/suck it in lieu of their dummy. Others would put a password on their appstore so this doesn’t happen. Some crazy people would actually decide that this is not a substitute for not watching your child and not give them something that may give you zero change from £500… Because hey. It’s real money.

Either way, this is the new reality. It’s law now.

Thoughts?

source: EU press