BBB National Programs Archive

CARU Refers Game Publisher UCool to FTC After Company Declines to Participate in CARU Process

New York, NY –  Sept. 12, 2017  – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit has referred video game publisher UCool to the Federal Trade Commission after the company failed to respond to CARU’s inquiry concerning UCool’s “Heroes Arena” mobile application.

CARU, an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation, monitors websites and apps for compliance with CARU’s Self-Regulatory Program for Children’s Advertising, including guidelines on privacy protection, as well as with the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. CARU is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

The Heroes Arena app came to the attention of CARU through CARU’s routine monitoring practices.

Heroes Arena is a virtual world in which multiple players choose avatar heroes to fight and overcome monsters and ultimately the “enemy’s generator.”  The game enables multiple mobile players to unite against a common in-game enemy.

According to the Apple App Store, Heroes Arena is rated 12+ for “Infrequent mild sexual content and nudity” and “Infrequent/Mild Cartoon or Fantasy Violence.”

The App Store included the following information from the developer: “NOTICE: Under our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, you must be at least 13 years of age to play or download Heroes Arena.”

CARU was concerned that advertising an app with a 12+ rating that one must be at least 13 to play during children’s programming violated CARU’s guidelines.

UCool declined to participate in the self-regulatory process and did not file a substantive written response to either CARU’s original inquiry letter or CARU’s 15-day follow-up letter.

In light of the operator’s decision against participation, CARU has referred this matter to the Federal Trade Commission for further review.