An Italian regulator is getting ready to slap Apple, Amazon, and Gameloft with a €5 million ($6.8 million) fine each if found guilty that the companies are purposefully misleading customers into downloading freemium apps to make subsequent in-app purchases.
The Wall Street Journal cites the regulator as saying this Friday that it is investigating whether several companies that run app stores are “misleading consumers with their use of the freemium model,” which involves downloading a free app and then paying for add-ons to gain additional functionality, such as new levels, new powers for the in-game characters, etc.
The regulator said in a statement, “Consumers could be led to think, contrary to reality, that a game is completely free and therefore they don't know ahead of time the game's true cost. It appears also that there is a lack of information regarding how to exclude or limit the possibility of making a purchase inside the app.”
Apple, in fact, has gone to great lengths to ensure customers are aware of the nuts and bolts behind the freemium model. The Cupertino giant is not at its first run in with government officials regarding in-app purchases. If found guilty, the trio could be eligible to pay a maximum fine of €5 million / $6.8 million.