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UK – Guidelines launched for social gaming

By - 30 October 2013

The global industry body representing social games companies with over 300 million players, the International Social Games Association has launched a set of best practice principles for the social games industry and has also commissioned new research into the evolution, use and impact of social games.

The ISGA is taking these steps to ensure that the social games industry has access to a minimum set of best practice principles that are premised upon consumer protection, accountability and transparency. As social games are a relatively new way of playing games the industry is also commissioning a detailed study to investigate the evolution, use and impact of social games.

The members of the ISGA have developed the principles as a first benchmark to help ensure the industry acts responsibly and consistently with standards designed for appropriate consumer protection. The principles cover five areas and are intended to ensure that games and their providers: adhere to necessary laws and regulations, are transparent in their functionality, treat purchases and payments responsibly, manage player privacy appropriately and use appropriate advertising models.

Like any entertainment industry, the ISGA understands that social games can have a cultural and social impact.  The research will help ensure that the industry can continue to provide a safe and fun form of entertainment to hundreds of millions of players around the world.

The research will comprehensively analyse social games from both business and consumer perspectives.  It is hoped the research will give a better understanding of the use of social games, their place in the digital economy and offer new knowledge and perspectives on the sector for the public, players, regulators and policymakers alike.

Luc Delany, ISGA CEO, said: “The social games industry is thriving and fast growing – over 750 million people play social games worldwide, and social games companies are driving economic growth. The launch of our best practice principles reflects our industry’s need to ensure games are developed and operated in a responsible way at a time when the way people play and pay for games is changing.”

Building social games is a new industry, and as a result has drawn interest from regulators and commentators. To inform this debate the ISGA has commissioned independent researchers Harvest Strategy, led by Dr. Rohan Miller (an expert in consumer and public policy research) to understand how social games are changing the ways consumers play and pay for games. Dr. Miller will be supported by a team of internationally recognised academics. The research is intended help generate and inform further public debate by clarifying and defining social games and their use while exploring the role of social games in the digital economy.

Dr. Rohan Miller, research lead at Harvest Strategy, said: “Social games have very quickly reached hundreds of millions of people around the world. Their rapid rise has drawn attention and questions from regulators, parents and players alike – we look forward to exploring these questions and answers to them in the coming months.”

Dr. Miller and the research team will report back findings to the ISGA and the wider industry early in 2014.

Paul Mathews, ISGA Chairman, said: “We’re proud to release our best practice principles and begin working to understand how social games are changing the way people play games – we look forward to sharing research findings with the industry and interested stakeholders, and hope that the arrival of robust research will help address concerns about hypothetical risks associated with social games.”

The ISGA will implement the best practice principles for game development immediately and help educate and inform others in the industry on the principles. Members will share data and insights from their products with Dr. Miller to enable a detailed exploration of how people play and pay for games in coming months.

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