UK Trading Authorities Investigating Free To Play Gaming

The UK's Office of Fair Trading is investigating web and mobile-based free-to-play games that contain aggressive in-app purchase systems, particularly those marketed at children. The investigation follows recent news stories such as the case of Theo Rowland-Fry, the eight-year old bold who ran up a $1500 bill for his parents playing The Simpsons: Tapped Out.

According to this morning's report on the BBC, the OFT wants to investigate whether games are "misleading, commercially aggressive or otherwise unfair" - that last branch of investigation widening the potential scope of the study considerably.

"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," said the OFT's senior director for goods and consumer Cavendish Elithorn.

While any rulings from the OFT would apply to the UK market only, the regulator is collaborating with overseas agencies.