Apple seems to have acted rapidly to the ongoing debate about free-to-play games. They have shared new details on adding parental controls to block in app purchases, as well as a new refunds policy.
Here’s the text of Apple’s latest email to an iTunes account owner:
Dear iTunes account owner,
Apple is committed to providing parents and kids with a great experience on the App Store. We Review all app content before allowing it on our store, provide a wide range of age-appropriate content, and include parental controls in iOS to make it easy for parents to restrict or disable access to content.
We’ve heard from some customers that it was too easy for their kids to make in-app purchases. As a result, we’ve improved controls for parents so they can better manage their children’s purchases, or restrict them entirely. Additionally, we are offering refunds in certain cases.
Our records show that you made some in-app purchases, and if any of these were unauthorized purchases by a minor, you might be eligible for a refund from Apple.
This follows not only recent news of Europe investigating free-to-play games, but also the recent lawsuit that forced Apple to refund IAPs, and the FTC ruling that required them to offer it moving forward.
Whatever your feelings are for mobile gaming, consumer right protection has clearly been lacking in this regard. Apple could stand to be more aggressive against some of mobile gaming’s more manipulative best practices, but then, perhaps regulatory agencies like the FTC and the European Commission will push them in that direction if they won’t do it themselves.