Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 13th Apr 2013 16:49 UTC
Legal "The OFT has launched an investigation into whether children are being unfairly pressured or encouraged to pay for additional content in 'free' web and app-based games, including upgraded membership or virtual currency such as coins, gems or fruit. Typically, players can access only portions of these games for free, with new levels or features, such as faster game play, costing money." Instances of this may be illegal, especially when it targets children. As for me - I just find it incredibly annoying.
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by Brendan on Sat 13th Apr 2013 18:17 UTC
Member since:

"February, this year, saw 5-year old Danny Kitchen spending £1700 on in-app purchases while playing the otherwise free Zombies vs. Ninjas game. Similar was the case with Cameron Crossan unwittingly spent over £3700 on in-app purchases."

Where the flick does a 5-year old get £1700???

Even though "free to play" is a misleading scam; I can't help feeling that parents/guardians are the problem here.

- Brendan

Reply Score: 5

RE: Um.
by andrewclunn on Sat 13th Apr 2013 18:55 in reply to "Um."
andrewclunn Member since:

Always require a password for every purchase. People have "1 Click Shopping" on devices that they then hand to their toddlers. It's replacing commercials that have your kids saying, "Mom! Dad! I want that!" with them just purchasing it with their parents' credit card without the parents knowing.

Reply Parent Score: 7

RE[2]: Um.
by gagol on Sat 13th Apr 2013 19:08 in reply to "RE: Um."
gagol Member since:

Advertising to children is illegal in Canada. Should we ban those apps across the big pond?

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE: Um.
by Neolander on Sun 14th Apr 2013 06:14 in reply to "Um."
Neolander Member since:

Where the flick does a 5-year old get £1700???

Even though "free to play" is a misleading scam; I can't help feeling that parents/guardians are the problem here.

Don't know if things are different in the UK, but in France you cannot own the kind of bank account which works with a credit card below 18. That limitation is probably related to minors' lack of legal responsability: if you cannot be held responsible of, say, keeping your banking information secret, what should the bank do when you stupidly leak it out and then come yelling at them?

This might explain the situation a bit, although if the parents had thought it up a little, they would probably have opened and appropriately tweaked a bank account for the kid under their own names. With the tweaking revolving around not letting the kid spend too much, and especially no more than he has.

Edited 2013-04-14 06:28 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Um.
by kompak on Sun 14th Apr 2013 20:25 in reply to "RE: Um."
kompak Member since:

Why would one need a credit card for that? At least in Finland you can buy as much crap as you want with text messages adding directly to your phone bill. Not everyone remembers to add a limit to their kids phone subscription. At least not before the first bill of a couple thousands euros.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: Um.
by steogede2 on Sun 14th Apr 2013 18:44 in reply to "Um."
steogede2 Member since:

... I can't help feeling that parents/guardians are the problem here.

- Brendan

I don't know if you have used an iPhone, but *by default* it will remember the password that is entered into the App Store for quite a while. Also *by default* In App Purchases are allowed and do not require a password to be entered. Now obviously, the first thing that any reasonably tech savy parent (i.e. 15% of the population) will do is turn off all this crap.

Whenever I look at the top grossing apps, it is generally the "free" apps which are aimed at children under the age of ten that are the top grossing apps. Generally they will have outrageously overpriced IAPs that no adult in their right mind would purchase or actively allow to be purchased.

Then there are the paid for games (i.e. Disney's "Where's my Water") that will bring up an advert for another game as soon as you load the game. Often they will have heavily misleading click bait - such as 'click here to play' when what they mean is 'click here to buy this other game and then play that'. If you sit down ten children with a freshly installed copy of certain games (whilst the App Store credentials are still cached) I bet you will find that only one gets to the game and the other nine make numerous further purchases.

Reply Parent Score: 8

RE: Um.
by dvhh on Mon 15th Apr 2013 02:57 in reply to "Um."
dvhh Member since:

I agree on the Parents/Guardians problem,
Like most of our generation before parents are delegating chidren interactions with TV/Video Games/iPad/Tablets (mind you I like playing video games).

On the other hand the iTunes Store issue with requiring a password (that it would remember for a period of time ) with free apps is a big issue, that Apple cannot solve without a big usability change (a "remember my password for 5 mins" checkbox).

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: Um.
by Soulbender on Mon 15th Apr 2013 03:27 in reply to "Um."
Soulbender Member since:

Even though "free to play" is a misleading scam; I can't help feeling that parents/guardians are the problem here.

Perhaps in an individual case but on the whole the problem is individuals and companies engaging in fraudulent behaviour.

Reply Parent Score: 6

RE: Um.
by Tractor on Mon 15th Apr 2013 12:03 in reply to "Um."
Tractor Member since:

Then you probably are not a parent.

The problem is that it is too easy to "one click buy" from these applications. A 5-year old kid doesn't know what electronic money is, he can merely achieve his way through a menu as if it was another part of the game.

Conversely, parents are not always geeks & techies. There are myriads of people out there, which qualify as "normal" parents, and which will never try to look at some obscure menu with lot of inscrutable options. They merely assume that the "default settings" is right, and protect them in a "common sense" way.

Condemning them is like condemning someone from having walked into a minefield conveniently warned with a semi-hidden small paper in Chinese font.

My take : it's up to the money-grabber store (i.e. Apple/Google) to ensure that no purchase can be done too easily that a child can convulsively use it. It's a system flaw. Insanely taken advantage of by borderline business practice. Well, borderline... I'm getting kind these days.

Reply Parent Score: 4