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5 April 2024


Another successful MGI Conference! 

Last month, a cocktail of professionals from the video games industry, regulators, policymakers, and academics, gathered to discuss whether the regulatory developments of 2024 will deliver on their promises of a safer, better, and more competitive games industry.

Expert-led panels covered key topics such as the Digital Markets Act and the future of app stores, the European Commission’s forensic look into the business models of mobile games, a new era for the internet and online safety, and the overarching question of age assurance.

Here are 6 things we learned:

1. The future of app stores – possible unintended consequences?

  • The Digital Markets Act provides several, potentially transformative opportunities for the mobile games industry. However, under Apple and Google’s current proposals, effective device-level parental controls may no longer be available to companies who take up the opportunity to build their own alternative app stores.

  • With effective age assurance at the device level no longer a certainty, provisions for controls at a platform or game-by-game level will need to be made.

2. Consumer protection – Europe’s ‘Digital Fairness Fitness Check’: what’s at stake for mobile games?

In short, everything.

  • The European Commission is undergoing a digital transformation, including a ‘fitness check’ of its consumer protection framework specifically focusing on digital practices that may pose problems to consumers. This includes an in-depth look into the monetisation models of mobile games.

  • Under the spotlight are the amorphous concept of ‘dark patterns’, transparency around in-game currencies, the availability of loot boxes to minors, and much, much more.

  • With a final report expected for Q2 2024, this is an area for the industry to keep an eye on.

3. The video games industry continues to pioneer

  • Recent updates to PEGI’s Code of Conduct and the introduction of UKIE’s New Principles and Guidance on Paid Loot Boxes demonstrate the proactive steps taken by industry to improve protections for all players.

  • PEGI’s updated Code of Conduct, which will come into effect on April 19th, includes guidance on in-game monetisation and provisions to ensure safe online gameplay for minors.

4. Privacy by design vs online safety - co-existence or competing obligations?

  • With last October’s passing of the UK’s Online Safety Act, at the heart of the government’s aim to become the safest place to be online, Ofcom, the online safety regulator, will work closely with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to ensure alignment with their enforcement of the landmark 2021 Children’s code.

  • While there is always room to improve, the video games industry has done a stellar job at following the ICO’s privacy by design obligations. The data protection regulator has since set out its priorities to protect children’s privacy online, focusing on social media and video-sharing platforms.

5. Advancing online safety – building a child-appropriate digital landscape

  • We are entering a new era of internet regulation and online safety. This involves the recalibrating human rights for the digital world and making online services responsible for protecting their users from harmful content.

  • Such regulations, like the UK’s Online Safety Act and Europe’s Digital Services Act, are far-reaching, and will impact online gaming services with communications functionality.

  • Online safety is ubiquitous and is an undertaking that cannot be handled alone. While there will no doubt be challenges, collectively, we have the opportunity to build a new web experience with children at the heart of design.

6. Compliance tech solutions are here!

  • k-ID, Kids Web Services and Yoti joined us to present their contrasting approaches on technological solutions to protect players effectively.

  • Demonstrations included a look at Yoti’s age estimation app, leaving some disappointed – but only at how annoyingly accurate the technology is!

If you’d like to find out more about these topics, just contact us via our form in the footer, or join our mailing list.

The Policy Team

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