E.U. wants Google and Apple to start cracking down on freemium apps

European Union officials are meeting with representatives from Apple, Google, and consumer protection agencies Thursday and Friday to discuss how developers represent in-app purchases to European consumers. The goal of the meetings is to set new rules aimed at making app developers more transparent, and to put in place new regulations to prevent children from making accidental purchases.

Apple and Google will be among the organizations to talk to the EU this week about the impact “freemium” apps are having on the industry. In a statement on Thursday, the EU’s European Commission said that it wants to investigate in-app purchases on games that can be downloaded for free. The Commission argues that while games can be downloaded for free, they essentially compel customers to pay for add-ons that bring functionality to the title, and that belies the idea of truly playing a game for “free.” So-called “freemium” games and apps have become increasingly popular in mobile marketplaces. The titles can be downloaded at no cost, but come with a wide range of in-app purchases that help the developer, who might have spent thousands on developing the title, to generate a return on that investment.

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