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German regulator warns Outfit 7 and Green Tea Games over in-app purchases

Consumer protection body concerned by how studios are targeting minors with microtransactions priced at up to €109.99

Two mobile developers have received a cease-and-desist letter from a major German regulator over in-app purchases in their games that are aimed at children.

Both Outfit7 and Green Tea Games have allegedly violated Germany's child-related advertising laws, according to Marktwächter - the 'market guardian experts' organisation within the Consumer Protection Association Rhineland-Palatinate.

Outfit7 was warned over its title My Talking Angela, a game that appears to target children of primary school age (particularly girls). The title centres around adopting and caring for a virtual kttten, where players can progress faster or buy accessories with in-game currency - but the CPA RP has found a single purchase can cost up to €99.99 or €109.99 depending on the operating system.

Meanwhile, Green Tea is under fire for Dog Run, a jump-and-run game that features a €99.99 purchase that can be activated with a single click.

Both games are also criticised for their use of obtrusive pop-up ads that encourage kids to make these in-app purchases. They also boast big discounts in a way the CPA RP believes makes it unlikely children will properly evaluate the offer before purchase.

“High amounts for in-app purchases are no rarity,” said the CPA RP's Manfred Schwarzenberg. “The providers obviously take advantage of the business inexperience and the play instinct of the children shamelessly.

“It can not be that in a kid-designed game app with a click one hundred euros or more can be spent. We are repeatedly reported cases in which children have quickly spent several thousand euros in gaming apps.”

Germany's CPA seems to be clamping down on what it deems to be unfair practices in video games. Just a month ago, it issued a similar warning letter to Sony over the terms of service for PlayStation Network.

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