90% of mobile game publishers falling short of privacy regulations

Research warns that mobile game developers “putting profit over privacy” is nothing but a short-term strategy that will jeopardise long-term growth.

Nine in ten (90%) mobile games are failing to comply with privacy regulations, a study has found.

Research from Usercentrics revealed a misalignment between mobile game publishers and the industry’s evolution towards consent. This has emerged despite premium brands and ad networks increasingly insisting on using only compliant data.

Ignorance from mobile game publishers means millions of users have been left with no control over how their personal data is being used, the study found.

“Putting profit over privacy”

The research uncovered that collecting personal data without consent is common practice across the global mobile gaming industry. In the EMEA region, 94% of publishers fail to comply with privacy regulations while in North America, 87% are falling short.

These shortcomings are in direct violation of both the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and ePrivacy Directive.

Valerio Sudrio, Global Director of Apps Solutions at Usercentrics, warned that mobile game developers are out of touch with the rest of the mobile industry, and by “putting profit over privacy”, they are failing to future-proof their organisations.

He said: “The app stores, ad networks and premium brand advertisers are pushing the industry towards an inevitable consent-based future, and developers and publishers need to realise that compliant data (personal data plus consent) will be their most valuable asset going into that future.”

Failed regulation

Despite mobile publishers facing the threat of hefty fines for failing to comply with privacy regulations, the ignorance from the bulk of the industry indicates that more needs to be done to deter illegal data collection and protect mobile gamers in the first place.

One way to do this may be expediting premium brands and ad networks’ increasing insistence on using only compliant data. Game developers rely on these platforms for in-app advertising, and a more stringent requirement for them to embrace consent or lose out on monetisation opportunities could prompt them to make privacy a priority.

Pressure from consumers may also mobilise change. The report quotes research from KPMG Advisory that found less than half of mobile users (40%) will delete an app if they have data privacy concerns, whileAdobe analysis reveals that 66% will stop supporting a company if their data is breached without their permission.

Based on the data, it appears mobile game developers have so far gotten away with ignoring privacy without any impact on their bottom line, but if pressure continues to mount from regulators, ad networks and consumers, this may not be the case for long.