Kim Kardashian: In game purchases we trust
July 25, 2014Earlier this week, Leupold Legal reported on the latest joint efforts of the European Commission and the EU Member States to enforce certain standards designed to protect consumers (see EU Commission and Member States take action to make online games safe for consumers). This move has been triggered by concerns that consumers may be misled into thinking that “free to play” games are always and entirely for free while players are indeed encouraged to make in game purchases to enhance their gaming experience. It therefore comes as no surprise that the business model of Kim Kardashian´s game “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” (available at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/kim-kardashian-hollywood/id860822992?mt=8) heavily relies on such in game purchases to fulfill its revenue forecasts of a rumored US $ 2000 million in the first year (see http://www.people.com/article/kim-kardashian-hollywood-game-app-spins-gold). So if you want to fly to Paris with Kim to check out new fashion and modelling opportunities or to get a tattoo you must buy “energy bolts” and “Star Packs” that let you progress in the game are not for free either. European Consumer protection agencies may be quick to condemn such gaming models, but they need to be aware that they are entirely permissible as long as players are not misled about the true costs involved and all other principles established by the CPC network are observed. Gaming Studios and publishers need to keep in mind, however, that these principles are only minimum standards and are complemented by national laws and guidelines such as the OFT´s principles for online and app-based games in England (see https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/288360/oft1519.pdf ) and Germany (namely the obligations arising from the Act against unfair competition that can be retrieved at http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/englisch_uwg/).