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app providers respond to ASA rulings on freemium apps

21 November 2014

Over the last 24 hours the App Store has responded to ASA rulings on misleading ads by making apps that were previously offered as ‘free to play’ now accessible via a ‘get’ option. Also, the words ‘offers in-app purchases’ are clearly positioned at the ad offer stage.

In July this year the ASA ruled that an email advertising the Electronic Arts Ltd app ‘Dungeon Keeper’ as free was misleading. Dungeon Keeper was a ‘freemium’ app which allowed the app to be used, usually in full, for free, but requires the user to pay to remove limitations.

The ASA ruled that an advertisement must make clear the limitations of free gameplay and the option of in-app purchasing to speed up gameplay.

Whilst the clarity around offer to purchase is clearly a step-forward for consumers, the across the board replacement of ‘free’ to ‘get’ does not help consumers to separate what is genuinely free from what may be free if played wisely. Parents of young gamers in particular could be helped further by the proper use of free to play’.

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