Toy giant Hasbro has been cleared by the Advertising Standards Authority of targeting children with ‘direct exhortation mechanisms to buy products’ in its Littlest Pet Shop app – developed, marketed and distributed under license by Gameloft.
A parent whose daughter had played the game complained that the free download required real money in order to access certain required activities.
Countering the claims however Hasbro ventured that parents could create restricted profiles for children which prevented in-app purchases from being made and that the use of such features was clearly stated during the download process from the Google Play store.
Backing this stance the ASA said in-game notices were not tantamount to direct exhortation, but rather a mechanism for purchase.
In its assessment the ASA said: “We accepted that children were likely to be frustrated by the limited gameplay as the game increased, and were likely to want to increase the gameplay, in particular collecting pets, by spending bling, which required real money. However, we noted that the game nonetheless offered free gameplay, which did not require spending real money and, on balance, did not consider the content or nature of the game directly exhorted children to spend real money. Because we did not consider the game contained a direct exhortation mechanism to buy products, we concluded that it was not in breach of the Code.”