Australian Council on Children and the Media

Uno! - Matel163 Limited

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Short takes

Uno! is based on the well-known number cards game. Strategic thinking and some arithmetic skills required. Not suitable under 13; parental guidance to 15 (in-app purchases, gambling style side games and video advertising).

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Contains some elements of gambling

This review of Uno! was completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 18 May 2020.

About the app

This section contains details about the app provided by an ACCM Reviewer.

Name of app: Uno!
Developed by: Matel163 Limited
Platform reviewed: Apple App Store, Google Play, Facebook
Cost: Free
Developer’s suggested age: 4+
ACCM suggested age: Not suitable for children under 13; parental guidance to 15 due to in-app purchases, gambling style side games and video advertising. Even though, in its non-digital form, Uno is commonly known as a family friendly card game, there are gambling representations throughout the game play or in the related ads that are not suited to unsupervised play for children.
Gambling content advice: Contains some elements of gambling. This game may contain devices which mimic those found in a casino; but the player is not risking something of value to play. Refer to the gambling section of this review for further details

ACCM review

This review of Uno! contains the following information:

The level to which the game was reviewed

The game was played for over 20 hours, however, the reviewer did not enter the ‘Uno Contest’, ‘Fun Room’ or ‘Uno World Cup’ portals. The reviewer reached level 27.

App description

Uno! is an online version of the familiar family card game, with all the traditional number cards and some entertaining features only made possible by being digital. Each hand lasts 3 minutes making it fast and fun. Players mostly play with randomly selected players from around the world though after playing for a while, friends can be made and registered so that they can be selected to play in future games. The aim of the game is to lose all of your cards or get the lowest card score by the end of the three minutes.

There are a number of versions of the game that can be played including playing as a single or in partnership with another player. In Classic mode the player may pick up ‘skip’, ‘reverse’, ‘2+’ or ‘4+’ cards whilst in Go Wild mode there is an additional card called the ‘Discard All’ card which allows the player to discard all cards of a colour in one turn. Also in this mode if a ‘2+’ or ‘4+’ card is played, succeeding players can keep adding further plus cards until the one who can’t, collects the grand total. There are options to create friend groups in the Room mode and Party mode (which requires the app to know your location and requires a passcode) allows the player to play with people who are playing nearby. There is an Uno Contest mode which includes Uno Cup, Grand Prix and Ranked Mode. There are purchases required to participate in these modes and they have not been tested by the reviewer.

The final mode is Uno Universe and is a story mode of the game. This is, with supervision, the most suitable mode for younger players of this game. It follows a simple story line between hands of the game. The player requires ‘Energy’ of up to 5 levels to be able to play and when the energy runs out – generally after three losses – a time to rebuild the energy is required (around 50 minutes). ‘Energy’ can also be bought as an in-app purchase.

Reviewers comments

Uno! is a bright, up-beat app with pleasing graphics, fun interactive play and fast paced game play. As it requires an internet connection and pits the player against other players from around the world, this is a game that requires parental supervision for children of most ages. It can be signed in through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram which, it should be noted, makes it easy for the player to automatically provide personal data and credit card information if the device administrator is registered to any of these sites. The player can select their own avatar or photo and player nick name.

During game play the player can use a bank of pre-set comments and emojis to communicate to the other players or even throw eggs at them or presents. Through a microphone feature it is possible to record short notes for the other players as well.

Parents should be aware that when changing modes or games video advertising will pop up and cannot be successfully circumvented until the allotted time has been reached. There is also an option to watch video adverts to earn ‘coins’.

There are Daily rewards and Events that are presented on the Home page, as well as a Store and Bank, some of which direct the player to in-app purchases by means of red notification style flags on their icons.

Parents should be aware of the greater community connectivity available in the ‘Fun Room’ mode (see App Description).

In App purchasing

There is In-App purchasing in this game, examples include:

  • Packages of in-game currency – 5000 for $12.99 etc
  • Packages of Diamonds – 800 for $124.99 etc.
  • Lucky Spin – Wheel with prizes on it of ‘coins’ etc. Sometimes free but mostly costing Diamonds.
  • Money Bank of earned bonus coin that is at a discount price.
  • Monthly Cards that have different combinations of purchases on them - $12.99 or $30.99

All of the additional modes require a payment of game currency to play. If the player has insufficient coin or diamonds they must wait until they are eligible for the free 300 coins that they can claim (when their stash is below 300) twice in a 24 hour period. As mentioned, in Uno Universe the player needs ‘Energy’ rather than coin. (see App Description) Despite the in-app purchases the reviewer managed to play quite successfully without making any purchases, largely due to the daily top up feature.

Online information

There is some online connectivity, such as:

  • Using your login in information for Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, including your billing information.
  • The player can sign in as a guest which does not protect the player from accessing the billing information that is directly attached to the device on which the game is played.
  • Each game is played against other ‘real’ players, each using a nick name and avatar/photo.
  • As mentioned, basic communication can occur through emojis and pre-set comments and very short recordings can be made. Players can invite others to a rematch by using a short-cut icon at the end of a game.

The information required includes the players name, billing address, and payment details.

Gambling

There are some gambling elements in this game, for example:

  • The method to watch a video to get some extra ‘coins’ is like an arcade toy machine where the reward comes in an egg that opens to reveal the prize. The sounds are very similar to those of a gambling slot machine.

  • Rewards can be gained through spinning a wheel and landing on a prize. This is exactly like the ‘Chocolate Wheels’ in casinos. This is found through the shop icon.

  • There are options to pay more in-game currency for greater rewards at the start of each game. The player can select the base level, 4X the rewards (or loses), 8x etc. These are very reminiscent of betting odds in card games or races.
  • Scratch Cards that are rewards throughout the game leading to coin, diamond and other prizes.

The gambling elements are not highly overt as they appear to be simple game options, however, given that in-game ‘coin’ can be won or lost by the choices the player makes based on the game odds, this is exactly like gambling without real money transactions.

Advertising and product placement

There is advertising in this game, including:

  • Video Ads for rewards (see Reviewer’s Comments).
  • Video Ads between games at irregular intervals.
  • Video Ads when exiting Modes.

Though the reviewer mostly saw ads for other games such as Fishdom, Yahtzee, and Word Collect, some of the games clearly involved gambling or potential gambling eg. Slotomania and Solitare Cube.

Gender stereo types and sexual references

None noted.

Coarse language

None noted.

Game playing behaviour which may be of concern to some parents

Please see reviewer’s comments above.

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About our colour guide

Content is age appropriate for children this age

Some content may not be appropriate for children this age. Parental guidance recommended

Content is not age appropriate for children this age

Gambling content advice

Simulated casino style gambling. Not suitable for minors

Contains some elements of gambling. Some content is not recommended for minors. Parental guidance recommended

No gambling content found in the levels played

About games and gambling

Most games contain elements of risk, chance and knowledge, that is why they are fun to play. There is growing concern about the impacts of simulated gambling games on the health and wellbeing of children. That's why we are identifying games that contain gambling elements on our site.

The State Government of South Australia's web site http://nogame.com.au/ contains information about these concerns.