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UK ad regulator targets in-game spending and advertising

The UK's Committee of Advertising Practice has issued new guidelines aimed at making advertising around in-game spending clearer.

The UK's Advertising Standards Authority has issued new guidelines for in-game spending. The new measures introduced last week have been brought in to make sure advertisements are more transparent for consumers.

If you've ever been confused or mislead by the massive bundles of premium currecny you get in games, or if you've been suckered in by time-limited offers, this new guidance is liable to have an effect on you.

The new guidance, which you can read in full at the link, tackles in-game practices designed to prompt players to spend more money, and the way games are advertised more generally, too.

Games that offer in-game currency that can also be earned via playing are exempt from some of the measures, with the ASA noting that different types of games need to be measured differently. As per the new guidance, any premium currency advertised must make clear how much that is actually worth in a clear monetary value.

It's worth noting this guidance isn't legally binding – but companies would be unwise to continue exploting customers in ways counter to what's been issued in the latest upate.

“The ASA (one of the UK’s advertising watchdogs) has issued its new guidance on advertising in-game purchases. This is huge and will require significant shifts in current industry practice,” legal partner Peter Lewin explained on Twitter.

“Remember, although the ASA doesn’t have fining powers it has operated successfully to-date on a name & shame basis (and can refer serious offenders to other regulators with stronger powers).”

This follows the UK's House of Lords concluding that loot boxes are gambling and should be regulated, after the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee asked for loot boxes to be removed from games sold to children.

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