A 7-year-old child manages to rack up an incredible number of in-app purchases in the Jurassic World mobile game, with charges totalling nearly $6,000 in just a week.
The growth of free-to-play has been one of the biggest trends in gaming over recent years. A huge industry of freemium video games has been on the rise on mobile and tablet devices, so much so that some have claimed that it is changing gaming altogether. However, there is an inherent danger to free-to-play mechanics, as shown in a recent case where a child was able to spend $6,000 on a Jurassic World mobile game.
As reported in the UK’s Crawley News, 7-year-old Faisall Shugaa was able to rack up costs of nearly £4,000 in the game – or just under $6,000. The boy’s father, local businessman Mohamed Shugaa, said that he was unaware that his son knew the password to his account. Faisall, not knowing what the payments in the game involved, made over 60 transactions on iTunes from December 13 to December 18.
Shugaa only knew about the purchases when his credit card was declined. Calling his bank, he was then put through to a fraud team who explained about the iTunes transactions, which ranged in price from £30.97 to £58.98. When Shugaa realized the cost of his son’s purchases in the Jurassic Park-themed game, he then went straight to Apple requesting a refund for the downloads.
Thankfully, Shugaa was given a refund for the purchases made, although the money would not be returned for 10 working days. In spite of warnings on the Apple website giving advice on how to avoid children spending their parents money, including how to set up parental controls, Shugaa believes that more should be done. “Why didn’t they email me to check I knew these payments were being made? I got nothing from them,” said Shugaa.
The issue of in-app transactions in free-to-play titles is certainly a contentious one. The business has boomed in recent years, with Kim Kardashian Hollywood earning $85 million in 2014 alone. However, worries over where this money comes from are not unfounded, and with only 2.2% of freemium game users ever paying for content, perhaps there is something to the criticism of free-to-play games targeting those users most likely to make extravagant purchases.
Of course, there is also the issue of parental guidance to address, and whether a child of 7 should have been left alone with a game where such purchases would be possible for such an extended period of time. Either way, there may well be further cases like this ahead, particularly with the upcoming addition of Nintendo free-to-play smartphone games. Let’s hope that there are sufficient controls in place to ensure that debates such as this are few and far between.
Source: Crawley News