Boy splurges 37,000 euros playing ‘free’ game

#1
The English article is pretty short but I'd be grateful if someone could translate the Flemish version

Edit: Thanks, E-phonk!

E-phonk said:
Complete dutch article translated:

37.000 euro of parents money wasted with "free" game

More than 37.000 euro. That's the amount a fifteen year old boy from Antwerp wasted in only a few months time without the knowledge of his mother. The National Commission for gambling sounds the alarm: "On the internet everything is allowed - we need more strict laws and policies"

Robin (not his real name) had been playing Game of War - Fire Age for only a few months. This internet game is freely downloadable. Players have to build an army and a city in order to destroy their opponents camp.

"Robin has been playing video games for years, just like his brothers", his mother says. "But he never played for money, we had no reason to be worried."

What his mother didn't know, was Robin got more and more involved in the world of Game of War. He wanted to do everything for it.

"When I was planning to go on vacation, I asked Robin to install some e-books on my tablet, something I don't know how to do myself", says the woman. "To buy these books I have given him the credit card of my father." And Robin added this credit card to his own iTunes account, the download service of Apple. He discovered he could buy virtual gold within the game using a credit card. This virtual gold made him progress to the game significantly faster. "While you are playing tons of advertisements are displayed, there is even an in-game casino that you can play. You only have to click once to make a purchase and real money is being spent, which was exactly what he did again and again, not knowing how much money he was actually spending as nothing shows what the amount is that you already payed."
Boy splurges 37,000 euros playing ‘free’ game



A 15-year-old Flemish boy managed to spend 37,000 euros of his mother’s money playing an online game, according to the daily ‘Het Nieuwsblad’. The strange thing is that no one noticed a thing.

The boy downloaded the game ‘Game of War’ for free, but managed to purchase ‘virtual’ gold without noticing. The virtual currency helped him progress through the game faster, but unfortunately also led to real money being charged to his mother’s bank account. It took a long time before anyone caught on.

The Belgian Gambling Commission is sounding the alarm. “We need stricter rules.”
http://deredactie.be/cm/vrtnieuws.english/News/141003_boy-online-game-debt
 
#2
He got the credit card info, because the mom wanted some e-books for her tablet and didn't know how to do it herself.

The article doesn't really have additional interesting information.
 
#3
Game of War is an iOS or Android app, and those two OS comes with password protections when buying things (i.e. : you need to login to buy something).

You can also deactivate that, but that's at your own risk.
 

Broken Joystick

At least you can talk. Who are you?
#4
"We need an attention grabbing title, that also sounds like products on the market. Any ideas?"

"INTRODUCING, GAME OF WAR."

Holy shit though, that's like £30K.
 
#10
In essence how he got the money is that his mom asked him to purchase ebooks before she left on holiday. and put it on her ereader since she does not know how that works. So he hooked up his grandfathers credit card to his itunes account to buy the books. Then the boy discovered that he could buy virtual gold with the credit card. He discovered it because the game displays a lot of promotions. There is even a Casino in the game where you spent real money and with just one click the money is already transferred so no warnings. He pressed the button again and again and there is no notification ingame how much money you spent so it was hard for him to keep track of how much he spent. The reason why the mother was this naive was because him and his brother have been playing games for a long time and they never used any money so she never saw a reason to be cautious.

edit: the reason why he kept spending money is that he can progress through the game way faster and got addicted on the game. The commission about gambling now is going to warn people about the dangers of IAP and is asking for (stricter)rules on the subject so that people cannot spent this much money.
 
#12
There's no regulating stupid. What are they going to do, make every game with IAP rated M? These games are designed to make money from whales, how do you drop 40k from your bank account and not notice?
 
#19
In essence how he got the money is that his mom asked him to purchase ebooks before she left on holiday. and put it on her ereader since she does not know how that works. So he hooked up his grandfathers credit card to his itunes account to buy the books. Then the boy discovered that he could buy virtual gold with the credit card. He discovered it because the game displays a lot of promotions. There is even a Casino in the game where you spent real money and with just one click the money is already transferred so no warnings. He pressed the button again and again and there is no notification ingame how much money you spent so it was hard for him to keep track of how much he spent. The reason why the mother was this naive was because him and his brother have been playing games for a long time and they never used any money so she never saw a reason to be cautious.

edit: the reason why he kept spending money is that he can progress through the game way faster and got addicted on the game. The commission about gambling now is going to warn people about the dangers of IAP and is asking for (stricter)rules on the subject so that people cannot spent this much money.
Jesus Christ, everyone in this story (parents, kid, app publisher) fucked up.
 
#21
There's no regulating stupid. What are they going to do, make every game with IAP rated M? These games are designed to make money from whales, how do you drop 40k from your bank account and not notice?
The game seems to have a casino in it, so yeah, I don't see why it shouldn't be rated M for gambling.
 
#24
I think we need better parenting.
Another thing you guys should notice is that. Most Flemish and Dutch people don't use credit cards that much. So that also has a lot to do with people don't knowing how easy it is to distract money from the card. We use debit cards a lot and bank transfers. And usually those have caps on spending. Since i also don't own a CC i don't know if there are any caps used on them. So the mother probably wasn't aware of that since it was the card of her father.
 
#25
So basically the money is gone with 100% no way of getting it back and all there is left is ppl lamenting "oh we need stricter rules". . . what about my money "shit outta luck".

We hear this story man times over with free to play games and it sets a precedent with these companies just laughing.

Didn't the big xbox live cases have them getting the money back because of the bad press? Free to play companies are like:

 
#26
There needs to be a limit on how much one user can spend on these things. Something is seriously wrong when I can order The Evil Within for £25, but a simpleton can spend over £30k on a glorified flash game.
 

Ray Wonder

Founder of the Wounded Tagless Children
#35
I spent like $300 at bestbuy and my bank contacted me. I find this hard to believe that 37,000 euros could be spent without notice. On a phone nonetheless.
 
#38
What are they going to do, make every game with IAP rated M?
Would that be a bad idea? I can't think of any downsides of slapping a PEGI 18 rating on any game (console or mobile) that allows in-game purchases. It wouldn't prevent many of these cases (kids are probably using an account registered to their parents most of the time) but every little helps.

Ultimately the solution to this will be that the device itself will authenticate the user's permission to make purchases, maybe based on fingerprints and/or facial recognition, but until then, I don't see any reason not to have warnings on these games.
 
#40
This game must be really awesome if it's worth 37 racks. Downloading now . . .

I spent like $300 at bestbuy and my bank contacted me. I find this hard to believe that 37,000 euros could be spent without notice. On a phone nonetheless.
I ordered a tv from Fry's online a couple of months ago, and my credit card company wouldn't process the order until I called them to confirm that I was really placing it. So yeah I'm with you. I get that each of these transactions was probably pretty small, but you'd think the credit card company or bank would notice the pattern here. It's not like they don't have data miners who look for stuff like this.
 
#44
The fact that it is even possible to spend that kind of money on a single game is obscene. F2P is an scummy business model.
This. How.. the F***... can you spend so much money on a game of this kind ? Rather, how can you spend that much money on ANY game ? This is high stakes gambling money we are talking about !
 
#45
THis sounds like my mom.

She just learned how to use the computer and iPad and likes to play those slot games, well since her checking is with mine right now I keep it up to date. She spend like 3k on these stupid games. I got mad and told her how stupid it is, she didn't like that LOL.
 
#46
Not defending the kid or its parents, but goddamn companies that make these games are worse than Activision. It is almost impressive how terrible this gaming trend is.
 
#47
I think it is not like 37000 in one go. I think Game of war maximum IAP is 80 euro.
So a terrible bank then. When I was working in banking our fraud department would have been on that shit right after the first purchase was made. Block immediately put on the card and an automated message left with the account holder.

This does seem to be a case of everyone fucking up spectacularly at once though. Mother for being a shitty parent, child for clearly being aware of what was happening (because the game does inform you several times that the transactions are using real money), bank for being awful to let this happen, and the company for taking advantage of said people.
 
#49
There's no regulating stupid. What are they going to do, make every game with IAP rated M? These games are designed to make money from whales, how do you drop 40k from your bank account and not notice?
I think that making all FTP games not available for kids might actually be a good idea. These games only survive on business models where basically to get people hooked in the same way as gambling to try and milk money out of the user. It's ethically really dodgy to market these games at kids.