Video game boxes will soon include a new icon which will inform parents of in-game purchases available for the game, in order to avoid the many instances of children unintentionally (or intentionally) spending hundreds on digital items in their respective currencies, only for parents to discover the horrendous bills after the fact.
These days, in-game purchases are offered for many popular games, including the FIFA football series and in online multiplayer games such as in the hugely popular ‘Fortnite’.
To give an example, Fortnite sells costumes, cosmetics and other items so that gamers can customise their characters, while FIFA has a mode where players can build their team by collecting packs of cards in FIFA Ultimate team, which are all gained from extra in-game purchases. Now, children and teens may sometimes be unaware as to how much that they are really spending, which in turn angers those paying the bills that are linked to the console inside the payments section.
Back in December, it was reported that a teenager had unwittingly spent his mother’s entire monthly wage on FIFA 18, as her debit card details were registered to his Playstation account. Imagine her shock!
The unnamed mother claimed her 14-year-old son was not aware money was being taken out of her account because the game did not inform him he was actually being charged for the purchases.
In April, another woman also claimed that her son had accidentally spent £52 on Fortnite purchases, which generates millions every month for Epic Games.
PEGI (Pan European Game Information) which provides age ratings for games in the UK and Europe, have now announced the introduction of a new badge for physical releases to be displayed on the box in order to help inform buyers, as well as parents, of any in-game purchases that go along with the game.
Managing director at PEGI’s classification board, Simon Little, stated: “Purchase offers within games has become a broad phenomenon, and it is necessary to provide the same level of consumer information on both physical and digital releases.
“Making parents aware of the existence of optional in-game purchases upfront is an important first step.”
“PEGI will now make this information available at the point of purchase, so that a parent can decide whether and how they want to monitor or limit a child’s spending.”
“Entering into a dialogue with the child about the games they enjoy is a must for all parents. It will provide them with the necessary context to create a gaming environment both the children and the parents are comfortable with.”
The new ‘in-game purchases’ icon is due to be introduced just before Christmas, the usual period of when most games are bought, and where even more instalment downloads and expansion packs are released by major game franchises.
However, other European countries have placed much stricter rules to protect children from overspending on in-game purchases. In Belgium and The Netherlands, they have declared some in-game spending as gambling, and is therefore illegal.
The rules relate to “loot boxes” in certain games, where players can purchase special packs of items, not knowing what they will receive in return. This has been classed by some concerned authority figures to be likened to gambling, which in essence would be correct, as it sparks the same anticipatory reward system that a casino does.
It may be not worth the money if you’re only going to end up disappointed with what you get as a result of your loot box. It’s only a game, right?
With this new icon in place at the end of the year, hopefully parents won’t be seeing holes in their bank accounts from over eager kids whom are spending hundreds on their Fortnite characters. Fingers crossed!
Story by Emily Clark
Featured Photo Credit: The Verge