Tier-one games publisher Gameloft issued an apology after it was revealed that customers buying apps from its web store were being incorrectly billed, with customers charged more than once for products downloaded. Originally identified by website Android and Me, customers were charged up to four times, causing fraud alerts to be generated for the credit cards used to make the purchases. Initially, it was said that Gameloft was not responding to emails, although it did subsequently make a statement, claiming that “we spotted an issue in our billing process that affected 0.5 percent of all transactions in our store in December… all customers who received extra charges will be automatically refunded for all related game charges directly to their credit card accounts, and will receive a free game credit.”
Earlier this year, the fact that Gameloft was using its own channels to distribute certain products, rather than offering availability through Android Market, was widely discussed. By not offering products through the Google channel, it meant that the company was not subject to the Android Market terms and conditions, which included a 24-hour refund period (which has now been shortened to 15 minutes) and the ability to restore previously downloaded apps. It was also noted that it was selling titles at a higher price through its own channels, with content available that was not also being sold through Android Market.
By offering products from its own store, Gameloft was also able to sell products in countries where Android Market does not support paid-for titles, prior to Google significantly ramping-up the reach of its store. However, as with other app stores – including, most notably, Android Market – Gameloft suffered from a number of teething troubles in its early days. Android and Me highlighted other flaws in the Gameloft store. Although the company initially limited purchases to a single download and install, it subsequently reviewed this policy, to enable re-downloads – but purchased products do not always appear in the customer’s My Downloads section. It also said there is no system in place to allow games to be updated once they have been installed on a handset.
According to statistics from Distimo, Gameloft is the largest publisher of “cross-store” titles, although its largest presence are with iOS and BlackBerry, with more products available for Nokia’s Ovi Store than Android Market – although this does not take into account apps made available through its own channels.