CAP – In-game purchases: guidance review

The ASA/CAP have released a post called: In-game purchases: guidance review. I have enclosed the text of the link below, but please have a look at the ASA/CAP site as there are lots of things of interest to anyone with an interest in Ethical Marketing.

In 2021, CAP and BCAP published new guidance on the advertising of in-game purchases. This set out what advertisers must do to advertise in-game purchases, and the games that feature them, responsibly and without misleading consumers.

The games industry is growing, and CAP has completed a review of the guidance, to ensure it remains helpful to the industry and continues to protect consumers. The review has confirmed that the guidance remains accurate and appropriate, and the ASA will continue to assess complaints against it. The guidance, which includes some minor changes to provide clarity in certain areas, has been published today. These minor changes seek to clarify and expand on certain areas, without changing the policy.

The guidance explains how advertisers of games with in-game purchasing should ensure that their ads are not misleading, including by:

  • Making it easy for consumers to understand how much they are spending on in-game transactions.
  • Making clear, before purchase or download of a game, that a game contains in-game purchases and, if applicable, loot boxes.
  • Making clear what content primarily requires extra purchase, where ads for games feature this content.

The full guidance, and the original regulatory statement, which provides additional background and information about the consultation process which led to its publication, are available here.

Since the guidance was published, the ASA has received and upheld several complaints about ads for games that did not disclose the presence of in-game purchases, including loot boxes. The guidance makes clear that the presence of in-game purchasing, including loot boxes, may be material to some consumers’ transactional decision, and therefore this must be made clear in advertising for the game. In these cases, the ASA told the advertisers to ensure that future ads for these games clearly disclose this material information.

CAP is aware that, since the guidance was published, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has concluded its call for evidence on the impact of loot boxes, and the Government has responded in favour of improved industry-led measures to protect players. The question of whether loot boxes should be defined as gambling and banned either from sale or advertising is a legal questions which falls outside of CAP and BCAP’s remit, and CAP and BCAP will continue to closely monitor any policy developments, and the evidence base, to inform an evidence-based approach.

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