Consumer Advocates Crack Down On Video Game Microtransactions
Consumer protection agencies have finally stepped up and stepped in regarding in-app purchases or mobile microtransactions for video games. While most core gamers couldn't care less, it's actually becoming quite a problem for many casuals the world around.
SMH.com.au, not to be confused with the acronym "So Much Hate", did a fairly detailed article on the situation regarding kids, mobile devices and in-app purchases.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission or the ACCC, has finally taken action against mobile app offenders who make it too easy or too convenient for kids to rack up massive amounts of in-app purchases using their parent's account.
Deputy commissioner Delia Rickard commented that...
The ACCC is examining more than 300 apps to see if there is any kind of swindling tactics going on to pilfer users out of funds in somewhat dishonest or scheming ways.
Already, there have been multiple reports of some kids inadvertently charging their parents' account for ridiculous amounts. In one case a kid bought $2,500 worth of in-app goods on his parent's iPhone, as reported by iPhone Hacks. In another case, a mother was billed $3,000 for in-app purchases made by her two sons who mistakenly spent crazy amounts on iTunes with the games they were playing, as noted on the New York Daily News.
Rickard went on to state that...
Don't think that the money pits in apps are designed just to pillage the wallets of parents through the piqued and petite fingers of petty kids. Even those of ample age have fallen victim to the in-app purchase scheme, with games like Real Racing 3 becoming a prime example of cashing in on impulse gameplay centered around in-app ad purchases, which saw some gamers easily rakcing up $500 worth of microtransactions in a short period of time, as reported by Destructoid.
ACCC spokesman, Asher Moses stated that...
This will be an uphill struggle for the ACCC, though, as we recently noted that new reports indicate that in-app purchases and mobile ad engagement is at an all time high. And according to ad management and research agency Mediabrix, the ads are aimed at capitalizing on more than 250 million mobile users.
While I'm usually of the belief that parents should be better monitoring what their kids play, it is easy to see how nefarious designed monetary schemes can trick some users into spending real money attached to a credit card by confusing the in-game funds with real-life funds.
As one parent noted...
While stricter parenting is a must, I'm definitely on the side of the ACCC with making in-app purchases and microtransactions more transparent for users, you know, sort of the way EA is always throwing microtransactions up in our faces in their $60 games.
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