Apple made a small but important change to its App Store today, dropping the word “FREE” from the installation button of games and other apps that are free-to-play and free-to-download, but might also include in-app purchases.
Apple has swapped “FREE” for “Get” for all free iOS apps, though categories in the iOS App Store still use the word — “Top Free iPhone Apps,” for example. The “Get” button also features a text label warning of in-app purchases in relevant games and apps.
The change to Apple’s App Store comes in the wake of pressure from regulators like the Federal Trade Commission, U.K. Office of Fair Trading and the European Commission. Regulators have pushed companies like Apple, Google and Amazon to adopt stricter guidelines in how they promote and display free-to-play games with in-app purchases. Google said it planned to stop using the word “free” when games contain in-app purchases, though the company’s Google Play Store still lists many titles, like Candy Crush Saga, Clash of Clans and Farmville 2, as “free.”
Earlier this year, Apple and Google paid tens of millions of dollars to settle complaints from the Federal Trade Commission over in-app purchases. Amazon, who was hit with a similar complaint from the FTC, has refused to settle.
The “freemium” and free-to-play business was recently skewered by Comedy Central’sSouth Park, which explored micropayments in games like Farmville, The Simpsons Tapped Out and other mobile games in the episode “Freemium Isn’t Free.”