We can argue all we like, we can blame everyone but ourselves, but at some point we need to concede that stupidity is a valid reason and these people get to pay the bill themselves.
It sickens me to see a place like Kotaku going with: ‘The Heartbreaking Story of How One Man Spent £12,000 on Final Fantasy and Nearly Lost His Family‘. You see, from my point of view when you spend 2140% of the price of a game on extra’s there is something wrong with you. You are from my point of view too stupid to be allowed near a credit card ever. The same goes for the idiot spending a similar amount EA Sports loot boxes. Some people are too stupid to get a credit card, and from my point of view, stupidity is no valid defence in any shape or form.
To give a small comparison, I am nuts about Hockey, so I have NHL 19. I have my Ultimate team and I got it by spending £0.00. You get a free package every 8 hours, during the month; you get the chance to get a bronze, silver, gold and the gold plus package as well as a legendary player all for the price of £0.00. I admit that this is not a fast way to get it, but there is a free way and that is awesome. There are other parts, you get more rewards and more card packages as well as legendary players as you unlock milestones and abilities. So at present I have all 31 arenas. Almost every goalie mask for all the NHL Teams as well as their Home and Away Jerseys. In addition I have most of the Canadian and Swedish outfits complete (for the fun of it) and it has costed me Nada. You see, every free package gets you a player, coins and two support cards. The coins vary from 100 to 1750 (the highest I ever got) and it enabled me to buy in auctions. So the BS of this guy spending thousands on his ultimate teams (not the same guy as mentioned earlier in this article). This is the path of someone too stupid to be allowed to have a credit card and all the media supported tearjerkers are just unacceptable to me.
Is that it?
No, this is just the warming up. You see the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/jan/25/revealed-facebook-let-kids-run-up-huge-bills-maximise-revenue) gave us on Friday ‘Facebook let children run up huge bills, court papers show‘. The article then gives us some conspiracy approach to “Staff discussed what to do with high-spending children before deciding to refuse refunds“.
So when we get: “Those games allowed users to buy in-game advantages with real money. But the link was frequently unclear to parents and children. Younger children just did not understand the concept, while older children and teens were unaware that their parents’ credit cards were linked to the accounts until they had run up bills in the thousands of dollars” my acceptance level of hypocrisy had met its final stage. Let’s be clear that Facebook is not innocent in any of this, but the stage is not the children, it is the parents. How the bloody hells were they stupid enough to let their credit card details get out of their hands?
In this as I stated Facebook is not innocent either. This is seen with: “In an effort to tackle the problem, a team of Facebook staff put together a policy that would require children to re-enter some card details before they could buy the in-game items, to prove they had their parents’ permission. But the feature was never implemented“. From my point of view there should not be any allowance of charging children (aka non adults) for games in any way, shape or form, but that little distinction didn’t make it to the front did it? Now, I am willing to accept that games are not always free, that is fine, but then there is one charge for a child to play the game, just like normal games or Android (or IOS) games. You get a free level or a few and for $5 the game is unlocked. Simple solutions that would have solved it all, but Facebook has lost so much value that any harassment policy is ignored on a few levels (my personal speculation), and the entire exploitation of users is something that should now be debated on a much higher level.
So when we are treated at the very end with: “We have now released additional documents as instructed by the court. Facebook works with parents and experts to offer tools for families navigating Facebook and the web. As part of that work, we routinely examine our own practices, and in 2016 agreed to update our terms and provide dedicated resources for refund requests related to purchases made by minors on Facebook“, I see two failures. The first is that a non-adult should not be allowed to have credit card details on their account or any reason, the second is that games explicitly targeting younger players should not be allowed to have in app purchases.
Yet it goes beyond Facebook, the parents, or perhaps more accurately stated the Credit Card holders should also be held to account. There are scores of credit card scams in the world and giving out the details to a minor is a true act of irresponsible stupidity. I do not care what excuse comes back at me. It is stupid plain and simple. If there is a reason for someone to need funds, or perhaps to fuel the use of funds (like an expansion) get a debit card, a pay pal account which could be managed more easily by allowing a mere £10 a month to be added to it, it limits the damage and still allows for someone to get some non-free gaming done.
It becomes more and more apparent that something needs to be done about parental stupidity. In this there is every consideration that parents need to be held to account and an actual consideration whether they are even fit to be a parent. Yet Facebook also requires scrutiny. When we saw “Facebook’s explicit policy, as communicated to developers in an internal memo, was to tackle such complaints by handing out free virtual items, not by refunding the charges – because “virtual goods bear no cost”” gives us the ammunition we need. If it is true that ‘virtual goods bear no cost‘, why charge people in the first place? There is the valid response to the setting of why there was a complaint in the first place and that is where we can hold the parents to account, which seems not to be done, or is expected to be done at any given time soon.
Yet the logic of some parts seems to evade the simple minds of those overspending. You see those who have been spending a fortune on their EA Sports loot boxes seem to forget that whatever they buy now becomes useless when they get FIFA20, NHL20, and NFL20. At that point they have to start from scratch all over again. So how is that for logic? I believe that by getting there and spending £0.00 I did the right thing and anyone doing exactly the same is on the same track. Now, I will be honest that when I hear that someone bought a gold plus pack that has 20 cards and includes 4 rare cards (if I remember correctly), I get that, if you buy one or perhaps two packs at the very beginning to have something to start with, we get that. Beyond that, no, that makes no longer sense, not when you get loads of free packs over time, in addition, the currency won allows you to buy cards in auctions and there you need to realise that you need to shop carefully and look for the options. It is the mere application of common sense, an element not in any parents giving out their credit card to their child, no matter how well off they are.
So when Kotaku treats us to: “It was my birthday. The Brave Frontier banner was back. The Scythe wielding Queen Elza was back. It was my birthday and I wanted Elza. This was the first double 5* banner I ever tried to pull on. This was the first banner I pulled on after the guaranteed 5* base for Rainbows was announced. It was my birthday and I had to have Elza. I have to get what I want on my birthday. I charged $1500 that day to get her.” I wonder about the age of the person, because at this point we get to the one time in history when wasting $1,500 on cocaine and hookers might have been a better choice to make. When someone is this stupid and wastes $16,000 on virtual elements we get to see just how stupid people tend to get and even as I personally do not see Loot boxes as gambling (thanks to Mass Effect 3), we need to consider the impact of any game that allows actual money to be used for in game items. When we revisit Kotaku and reflect on: “Japan had big problems with gacha-style models, and acted to regulate them. They’re still a part of many mobile games released in the west and, to be fair, for many players they’re not a big issue. But a significant proportion find themselves suckered in by these things, and it’s through no fault of their own – the games are designed to play on well-known mental feedback loops. In certain cases, such as this, they can make otherwise-rational people act in irrational ways“. We acknowledge that there is an issue, but on that can be negated, what if we add one item, one that all actual CCG fans know about? It is called the Factory set. It might not be cheap (like $399), but that gives the player EVERY item and every FUTURE item. So, no long hauls of exploitation, a mere setting of the stage where you can get all the items (at a price) and now we have avoided the entire thousands of dollars mess.
It might also give us a leg up whilst we find ways to properly tax the companies using loot boxes, because that is still an option to place on those using loot boxes. When they are all privy to 25% flat tax (taxed at the sellers point), we might see a first light into a change of the matter. The revenue is still too appealing for places like EA Sports, yet this might give them a much larger incentive to up the game in letting players win these boxes on a much larger scale negating optionally their need to spend money on them. Again, Mass Effect 3 was awesome in that matter, in many cases within an hour you could win up to 3 gold loot boxes without ever spending a dime, merely through playing and that will also beef up the amount of people playing, which is also good for the game. It optionally reduces the amount of parental stupidity we face but I am not holding my breath on that one, there are way too many options for parents to get stupid when it comes to the area of applied technology and applied entertainment for the loudly complaining child, which is merely the nature of the demanding beast.