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Google Will No Longer Call Freemium Games “Free”

by Brandon Russell | July 19, 2014July 19, 2014 2:00 pm PST


The popular freemium model is getting a swift right hook to the jaw over in Europe. According to a statement made by the European Commission, Google has decided to change how it refers to so-called “free” apps to avoid confusion in the future. Beginning in September, the search giant will no longer list these freemium games, which rely on in-app purchases, as free in the Google Play store.

There has been a lot of discussion over how companies and developers handle free-to-play apps, especially when it involves kids accidentally racking up thousands of dollars in in-app purchases. Amazon is the latest company to come under fire regarding how it handles freemium apps, while Google and Apple have also been at the center of heated controversy.

Under the new guidelines, Google said it is committed to making clear which apps are free and which aren’t, and also said it will notify developers directly about adhering to EU rules about targeting children.

“We’ve been working closely with the European Commission and consumer protection agencies for the last few months to make improvements to Google Play that will be good for our users and provide better protections for children,” Google said.

Right now, it’s unclear whether the new rules will make their way outside of Europe, or if if these same guidelines will also apply to apps other than games.

While Google has committed to working closely with the European Commission to make improvements, “no concrete and immediate solutions have been made by Apple to date to address the concerns.” However, Apple has said it will address the commission’s concerns at so point, though a commitment has not been made just yet.

In a statement to Re/code, Apple didn’t address the European Commission’s request head-on, instead taking an opportunity to say it already has strong parental controls in place to avoid issues regarding in-app purchases. Apple has already been targeted by the U.S. FTC for unauthorized in-app purchases, and even agreed to pay back $32.5 million on behalf of parents that were affected.


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell likes to rollerblade while listening to ACDC.