The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP, which writes the UK’s advertising codes that are enforced by the ASA) has launched a consultation on new guidance to explain how the Codes should apply to in-game and in-app purchases.
This has been prompted by concerns expressed by the public and press about, among other things, loot boxes; but the scope of the consultation is wider than that.
The focus is on how in-game purchases are marketed, in particular on clarity of information provided at the point of purchase, responsible messaging, and truthfulness.
Under the spotlight are practices like bundling of virtual items, ‘odd pricing’ (selling currency in quantities which are deliberately too high/low to buy specific things), randomised items, pushy presentation of in-game purchases, and advertising of game features which will likely not be experienced by most players.
The CAP code already has rules which apply to all of these practices, so the output of this consultation will be a formal piece of Guidance, which will explain how those rules should apply in this area.
If nothing else, this is a useful reminder that in-game store-fronts, pop-ups, and offers of purchases are all ‘marketing communications’ as far as the ASA is concerned, and therefore fall within its remit.
The deadline for responding to the consultation is 28 January 2021. You can access it here.