Yesterday saw the launch of not one but two new 3DS StreetPass games, and triggered a rush of Nintendo fans opening their consoles and handing over digital funds for both titles.
However, depending on which region you're in, you will have gotten a slightly different reaction from the StreetPass Bunny - he who controls the purchasing process - if you decided against coughing up your cash.
In North America and Japan, turning down the bunny's offer results in him displaying obvious dismay; his head bows and the music changes to indicate something negative has occurred - you haven't made a purchase, and you've made the bunny sad.
However, in Europe, the same exchange goes somewhat differently. The bunny maintains his composure and exclaims "Fair Enough", as if he's not bothered about whether you buy the games or not.
Also, the actual process of buying the games in Europe is different - you have to enter a specially marked "Shop" area within the StreetPass Plaza app, whereas in other regions you can buy them directly from the game portals.
So why have these changes been enforced? It's all to do with UK and European law. The UK's Office of Fair Trading has published a set of principles which act as a "best practice" guide for developers who aim to include in-game purchases in their titles. This was created follwing an investigation into whether kids were being coerced into purchasing content within games. The European Commission has since confirmed that this document is in line with its own thinking on the matter.
In the document - which you can download here - is it stated that in-app purchases should be set apart from the main gameplay so it is obvious that real money is changing hands. That's why in Europe, you have to enter a specially-marked shop area in order to buy the games.
And the bunny's unflappable temperament? That's down to another suggestion from the Office of Fair Trading's document, which states that games:
...should not include practices that are aggressive, or which otherwise have the potential to exploit a child's inherent inexperience, vulnerability or credulity or to place undue influence or pressure on a child to make a purchase.
The bunny's sadness could be taken as a pressure tactic, something which makes impressionable kids feel compelled to spend money in order to cheer him up.
Nintendo is clearly following European and UK law to the letter here, which is a good thing in our opinion - we prefer the more laid-back, happy-go-lucky bunny seen on EU 3DS consoles. Still, it's not all positive; as BitParade points out, this could be why Rusty's Real Deal Baseball never made it out of North America - its gameplay would need completely overhauling to conform to these rules.
Thanks to James McWhirter for the tip!