The U.K.’s Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has published new guidelines on in-game spending in a bid to make the process more transparent for consumers. In a statement, the country’s chief regulator for non-broadcast advertising material said the guidelines will cover types of in-game storefronts, platforms for purchasing games, and broader advertising for the games themselves.
The new guidelines, which you can read here, also cover virtual currency purchases, bundled items, odd pricing. and time-limited offers. The new guidelines will specifically cover virtual currency that can only be obtained through real-world transactions, as the CAP defines it as a proxy for real money and that “the decision to spend it is fundamentally a decision to spend real money.” What isn’t covered by the guidelines is the virtual currency earned in-game, including those that can also be purchased.
The guidelines also cover in-game advertising claims for bundle purchases, in particular, those claiming “best value” and “cheapest.” To note, these claims should only be claimed for cost-per-unit prices and not the overall price of the bundle. (Read: The UK is the latest country to call loot boxes gambling)
For in-game purchases with odd-pricing, the CAP warns that advertisers should provide “sufficient information” on the actual costs of the currency bundles, so players can determine a purchase while taking everything into account.
For time-limited offers like seasonal items or battle passes, the term “time-limited” offer should not be used for items that will be made available later (i.e., reruns, later addition to general purchases). Temporary discounts for bundled currency or items are now considered promotional marketing and will be subject to specific CAP rules. (Read: EU report says loot boxes a consumer protection matter)
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) will be responsible for implementing the new guidelines.
“In recognition that, for some advertisers, changes to in-game content may be required, the ASA will be willing to deal with complaints on an informal footing for a period of 6 months for in-game content and 3 months for all other ads covered by the guidance to allow industry to implement any changes effectively,” the agency said in a statement.
“Following this period, the ASA will return to their usual procedures for determining whether to pursue cases formally.” (Read: Beyond loot boxes: Research finds deeper link between gambling and video games)
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