Get The Popcorn: The ACCC Has Made The Games Industry Its Target For 2025

Get The Popcorn: The ACCC Has Made The Games Industry Its Target For 2025

The ACCC says the gaming industry is on notice in 2024-25, and that its compliance and enforcement priorities for the year ahead put the sector squarely in its crosshairs.

The news comes from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s latest report, titled “Cost of Living and Digital Economy Shape 2024-25 Compliance and Enforcement Priorities”. In it, the consumer watchdog lays out exactly what it will be putting under the microscope in the next financial year. The adjustment of its priorities comes just weeks after the cost-of-living squeeze reached a tipping point following a seismic report by the ABC’s Four Corners into supermarket price gouging. The ACCC caught a few strays in that report, and it has apparently woken the giant.

Right at the top of the report, the ACCC puts the games industry in its sights. The coming year will place a focus on “consumer protection and fair trading issues for small business including misleading or deceptive conduct in influencer marketing, online reviews, price comparison websites and in-app purchases – especially in the video gaming industry.”

“The gaming industry has significant size and reach, particularly with younger consumers,” says ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb in the report. “Far too often we hear concerns about consumers incurring huge purchases because of in-app offerings that have inadequate safeguards, or in some cases, deliberately target and nudge or confuse consumers.”

The report also targets numerous other market sectors, like consumer electronics and, yes, the supermarket duopoly. Kotaku Australia has contacted the ACCC for comment, particularly regarding exactly what Ms. Cass-Gottlieb means when she says ‘online reviews’.

As lootboxes came under greater and greater regulatory scrutiny around the world, the games industry has spent the last five years looking for creative new ways of wringing an extra buck out of consumers. Randomised loot still exists — FC 24‘s Ultimate Team mode still thrives on it. However, we now also have Digital Deluxe Editions that get you three-days of ‘early access’ for $30-40 more than the standard RRP (aka ‘we found a way to have two release dates’). We have battle passes that incentivise real-world spending as a shortcut to desirable unlocks. We have games that offer bonus materials in exchange for real money as a ‘time saver’. Mobile games repeatedly prod players to spend, sending numerous daily reminders during play and as push notifications when the app is not active.

And that’s just the games themselves. Then there are extant consumer concerns like murky influencer deals and price comparison sites.

You can read the full report here.

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