Parents Suing Apple Over In-Game Purchasing

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Preacher zer0:
Parents should pay more attention to what their kids are doing online instead of using technology as a babysitter.

No sympathy.

My thoughts exactly, dont give your kids access to anything that has real money attached, the same way you dont let your kids on Steam/Amazon with all your CC details saved.

It a stupid game and $99 is insane but pay attention to what your kids are up to?

Farther than stars:

RJ 17:
But unless Smurfette pops out of the game and offers to give you blowjobs for the next month, do your laundry, and cook your meals, $99 for ANYTHING in a game is just fucking ridiculous.

I get the feeling that if that were the case, these parents would have bigger issues than figuring out a parental lock.

:P touche, a very valid point. But still, if I'm dropping $99 frickin' dollars to buy an in-game item, it had better at least come with a handjob from the developer. :3

Comando96:

Farther than stars:
Well, if it is a problem with addiction then maybe it's time fo some additional legislation conrcerning these types of games. You know, the same way it's against the law for minors to be gambling.

Good luck enforcing that law.

I wouldn't make it illegal as thats just stupid an unenforceable and removes all responsibility from the company in question and to the parents. I would stick a different minium age rating on a game which has skinner box tactics as well as any game with an in game purchase system.

That's virtually exactly the same thing I said, but instead of using the 18+ sticker, you're opening it up to all the age-requirement classifications, meaning you need to get an organization like the ESRB in on it to rate the games.

Usually I'm all on the side of "parents need to stop being incompetent pricks," but this... this is a class of its own. It's a game marketed for kids with an option to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars at the click of a button. There's a problem there.

Was there any indication that one password was all that stood between a kid and a $1400 smurfberry bill? Because that's kind of insane. Kids aren't stupid, they can figure out a password if that's all it asks for, nevermind the perfectly legitimate reasons they might need to be told it.

This is quickly reminding me of another point of ignorant, idiotic "parenting".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqUuHR8vj_8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ML_1FkN3ENc

Not to mention, bashing Sony for a game that has "VALVE" printed boldly on the front of the box.

I really hope this passes through the courts successfully. Seriously, this is manipulation at its best. "Oh, micro-transactions help us make the game free." Yeah, well a $99, $50, or even $25 dollar transaction is worse than free. Your trying to manipulate people to throw money away for non-existent items.

Also, a little note, im not 100% sure if a Skinner box applies here like some people think. Havent took learning and conditioning yet though. If I remember, a Skinner box rewards you for pressing a button, then you have to press it twice, then three times, then four. The game play may do that, but the micro transactions just prey on human compulsion.

Farther than stars:
That's virtually exactly the same thing I said, but instead of using the 18+ sticker, you're opening it up to all the age-requirement classifications, meaning you need to get an organization like the ESRB in on it to rate the games.

You said legislation and there is no legislation for the US where this case is being heard, due to the fact as you know you apparently cannot ban 10 year olds buying games with an 18 sticker on it... only company policy can (which most companies do).

The fact Apple and the app owners have updated the situation so that it is clear when purchases are real and adding an option to not allow the purchases is enough in my opinion.

It says in the article itself that the thing the parents don't like is the skinner box tactics and... you can't legislate against that in any way shape or form as it covers too wide a group of games.

Flash games on the internet commonly employ skinner box tactics but these websites don't charge for games, they rely on advertising revenue... its a silly thing to legislate against as its not legislations place, however cooperation with groups like ESRB would be the better and more sensible aim.

They've made it possible for the parents to control it. If the parents are too lazy to now use that ability to just tell their kids no then that's their problem. I'd say there was a problem before when it was too easy to buy stuff, but with the additional measures in place there is no excuse except for lazy parents not wanting their kids to bug them with requests to buy junk.

Unsilenced:
Usually I'm all on the side of "parents need to stop being incompetent pricks," but this... this is a class of its own. It's a game marketed for kids with an option to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars at the click of a button. There's a problem there.

Was there any indication that one password was all that stood between a kid and a $1400 smurfberry bill? Because that's kind of insane. Kids aren't stupid, they can figure out a password if that's all it asks for, nevermind the perfectly legitimate reasons they might need to be told it.

But they went and fixed that since the $1,400 bill. Why is it still a problem after their update that gave parents more options?

The lawsuit is bullshit and won't go anywhere etc etc.

However, I think some people are being a bit harsh on (some of the) parents. I totally worked out my parents' passwords for stuff when I was a kid, either by (often accidentally) watching them type it in or just through educated guesses. My parents, like many, are not great with technology. They type slowly and use obvious (to someone who knows them) passwords. Now, I never personally abused my ill-gotten knowledge in monetary terms, though I may have sneaked looks at email and Amazon accounts to see what I was getting for Christmas...

My point is, these parents aren't necessarily incompetent at parenting, just at using technology :P

Pipotchi:

Preacher zer0:
Parents should pay more attention to what their kids are doing online instead of using technology as a babysitter.

No sympathy.

My thoughts exactly, dont give your kids access to anything that has real money attached, the same way you dont let your kids on Steam/Amazon with all your CC details saved.

It a stupid game and $99 is insane but pay attention to what your kids are up to?

Allow me to third this. I've never understood parents who let little kids play with their fragile, overpriced smartphones, especially when the games in question have microtransactions. Get your kids a DS, or if you can't afford that, spend the $10 or so on a second hand Gameboy Advance. If they're young enough for this kind of thing to be a mistake, instead of a knowing theft of their parents money, they're young enough to not realize just how outdated the GBA is.

I don't blame the parents' for not knowing that their kids could easily use their accounts to buy loads of shit. One would expect there were some more precautions to that. But geez, one would think that most parents ought to teach their kids not to waste that amount of money on games...

While usually I'm all for blaming the parents, but I have to agree that microtransactions are just a stupid and evil business practice. I mean really, who has ever fully known the consequences and then continued to willfully buy $1000 worth of smurfberries?

Passwords aren't that hard to figure out, and there's a 15 minute grace period between password checks. Well, and it's just compulsive. I've racked up many a bill without realizing it because it's always "oh just a dollar".

Too bad this case probably has a snowball's chance in hell succeeding.

Well considering that 5 min ago I went online to check my credit card statement and found a $110 charge to itunes from April 5th that I know I did not make because I have done 1 transaction with the company in 6 months and it was to buy "Mining all Day Long" off of the miracle of sound itunes page, I kind of have very little empathy for the company, so yeah I think they should pay the parents for their lax standards....

ATTENTION STUPID PARENTS: It is your responsibility to educate your kids about the dangers of things like this. Apple and similar companies are not responsible for raising your kids for you, that's your job. If your kids runs up a huge bill by spending money on in-app stuff you have no one to blame but yourselves because A)you didn't educate them properly and B)you let them have the f*cking credit card.

This is Apple's fault?

How does that even work?

I have no problem with games having micro-transactions, but something is defiantly wrong if it's in a game marketed for children. Not saying who is to fault here as I don't know enough to make any judgment but the idea of a children's game not questioning micro-transactions into the hundreds of dollars is worrying. Passwords aren't that hard to guess if the person who made it isn't used to using technology or thinks it's trivial.

gigastar:
On the one hand, overreacting parents.

On the other hand, manipulative microtransactions.

Im not sure which side i loathe more...

Kind of glad you posted that early in this thread.

I wanted to make a judgement call but then I had to stop and think for a minute about who is in the right or who is in the wrong. This would make an excellent case for a thought-group IT class at university.

Should the parents microscope their kids gaming? Or, more broadly, microscope them under any activity monetary or otherwise?

Should the companies be more forthcoming with the microtransactions?

Credit and debit to a lesser extent have really changed the feeling of money. Buying a game on Steam doesn't send off the "WARNING WARNING YOU ARE SPENDING MONEY FRIVOLOUSLY >>> RESTRICT AIRFLOW TO VITAL ORGANS DEFENSE" response to my brain. And I am 20 years old. Little kids with that same "tethered bank" with microtransactions? Teaching financial wisdom was hard enough when everything was cold hard cash; I just don't know anymore.

gigastar:

And while im here...

newwiseman:
To quote Bender, "Parents haven't you ever tried just sitting down with your kids, and hitting them?"

While solid words, this method is genuinely flawed in several ways. Most of theese flaws are legal in nature and will haunt you for the rest of your life.

image

Obviously nobody[1] is going to beat their kids in order to tell them not to buy shit

On Topic: Well I can see part of where the parents are coming from, because micro-transactions add up fast (I learned this with Rock Band DLC), but at the same time, a lot of this seems like poor parenting at letting your kids have access to the password, unless there is a flaw that allows access for like 15 minutes or whatever

[1] well maybe a few people might

I hate to ruin the theory that all of this is to target little kids but they are not who these games are meant for. The primary users of these 'social' games (eg. Zynga Games like Smurfville) are older women with disposable income. They also in no way force you to buy these things. Buying them just allows you to advance a lot faster because you do not have to spend time on the 'social' or 'leveling' parts to get the items you need.

KeyMaster45:
Frankly I don't see how this is Apple's responsibility, the devs of the apps should be the ones they're going after for shady microtransactions.

It's because Apple handles all transactions. The developer has no control over Apple's password caching for 'x' minutes. The developer is just using what Apple has provided as a billing mechanism.

Erana:
Whoops, someone bought something on my computer using my information. Better sue the computer manufacturers!

I just don't get it. Why are they going after Apple? They didn't make the software in question, and its stupid for people to demand that they police the app store application process even more than they already do. For all the little oddities that slip through, their rules are tight enough as it is.

Apple provide the mechanism for the apps to make purchases. The developers of the apps have no control over Apple's 'x' minute password caching, which is why the class action is going after Apple.

Oh, and Apple has over $900bn in the bank in cash... the developers don't... ;-)

thethird0611:
I really hope this passes through the courts successfully. Seriously, this is manipulation at its best. "Oh, micro-transactions help us make the game free." Yeah, well a $99, $50, or even $25 dollar transaction is worse than free. Your trying to manipulate people to throw money away for non-existent items.

Also, a little note, im not 100% sure if a Skinner box applies here like some people think. Havent took learning and conditioning yet though. If I remember, a Skinner box rewards you for pressing a button, then you have to press it twice, then three times, then four. The game play may do that, but the micro transactions just prey on human compulsion.

I have not played the game but if I remember from what I've heard it is spend X amount of time to get Y amount of smurf berries. You spend them and they get harder to get overtime. This is the part that they are referring to the skinner box so your definition is correct. But by providing the pay service to expedite this process it abuses the already addicted consumer. So the skinner box does apply to this situation if not directly, but I do understand how you could think it wouldn't.

OT: Lol for the awesome parenting. (obvious sarcasm)

Comando96:

Farther than stars:
Well, if it is a problem with addiction then maybe it's time fo some additional legislation conrcerning these types of games. You know, the same way it's against the law for minors to be gambling.

Good luck enforcing that law.

I wouldn't make it illegal as thats just stupid an unenforceable and removes all responsibility from the company in question and to the parents. I would stick a different minium age rating on a game which has skinner box tactics as well as any game with an in game purchase system.

I have to say that's an interesting approach to the problem

Simple solution: Watch over your kid and what he does online.

I know the story isn't about parents not watching over kids and its more about Apple and that dumb bypass trick. However, kids at that age shouldn't be buying stuff with real money for a shitty online game. Whenever I played online when I was a kid, I didn't even think about asking my parents for money because I knew they would smack me and would ask me to stop playing those games and go play outside or something. Or if they did give me money, they would warn me to not use it online and use it for something far more important. Like, you know, food.

Also, whenever I let someone use my netbook or desktop or whatever, I make sure they use another account other than mine. Why? Because they could make changes to my computer, access my passwords, etc. It's not that I don't trust them, it's more of a matter of privacy. So why in the world would you let your kid use your account?

Let's use another imaginary example: My friend was playing with my PS3 and he logged in with my username. He loves MW3 so he decided to buy Elite and all the map packs available in the world. he had a swell time. Then I went back home and found out about this. Now I wanna sue Activision for this.

Yes, it's an extreme example, but you know what I'm getting at. Microtransactions are not at fault here (And I can't believe I am saying this). Parents are. For not watching over their kids, expecting the computer to take care of them and then blaming it on someone. Sure, Apple is not helping either buy hey, their job is not to look over your kids, after all.

Ok so micro transactions aimed at kids is a bad thing and all but the real problem here is inattentive parents. Too many adults these days, even in my own family have their kids hooked on iPods. I've seen kids squall and the parent blindly hands them their phone to shut them up. It's what TV was to my generation, a big, flashy, electronic babysitter.

Have you considered supervising your children instead of leaving Uncle iPhone to entertain them for a few more hours? Don't give them any passwords - start the game for them and call it at that.
I'd never leave such a thing in the hands of a child if it's my name on the bill, because I'm shit out of luck if they run up a huge bill.

Also the polite but firm "Do not buy anything in the games. Ask me if you're not sure."

Y'know, parenting.

Big.Bad.Blowback:
I hate to ruin the theory that all of this is to target little kids but they are not who these games are meant for. The primary users of these 'social' games (eg. Zynga Games like Smurfville) are older women with disposable income. They also in no way force you to buy these things. Buying them just allows you to advance a lot faster because you do not have to spend time on the 'social' or 'leveling' parts to get the items you need.

Because Smurfs is obviously a franchise aimed at older women. Sorry but you can't just speak for every game on the Internet just because you've played Farmville. A lot of these games are impossible to beat without spending loads of money and usually there's no way of knowing until you've been playing for 3 hours in-game/1 week real-time which is more or less when the gaming compulsion is at it's peak. Maybe it isn't illegal, maybe people should be more informed about these problems but it doesn't change the fact that a lot of these games were created and marketed for kids who won't think twice about stealing from their parents just to fuel their new found gaming addiction. I don't think anybody would expect that from a videogame.

You know what? I think this is one of those cases where the community just has to stand up and point out that something is wrong before FOX News decides to point out how videogames indoctrinate children into violence and now stealing from their parents.

Hevva:
Will these kids ever know the joy of Crash Bandicoot?

Of course not. Crash Bandicoot stopped being good once it got to PS2. I'm afraid the only way they will know the joy of Crash Bandicoot is if you got them the three games (and possibly CTR and Crash Bash) on PS1.

Also, I was going to make my own comment, but someone already made it for me.

gigastar:
On the one hand, overreacting parents.

On the other hand, manipulative microtransactions.

Im not sure which side i loathe more...

MorganL4:
Well considering that 5 min ago I went online to check my credit card statement and found a $110 charge to itunes from April 5th that I know I did not make because I have done 1 transaction with the company in 6 months and it was to buy "Mining all Day Long" off of the miracle of sound itunes page, I kind of have very little empathy for the company, so yeah I think they should pay the parents for their lax standards....

So what someone has your password and used it to buy songs on your itunes, and this is somehow apples fault? Doesn't make any sense to me.

OT - As stated numerous times above I fail to see how this law suit can possible go anywhere, Especially seeing as how new steps have been put in place. Ultimately its the parents fault, even if there should be more steps involved to stop buying stuff, its hardly Apples fault that you let your child go and buy it all.

There is no way to 'beat' most of these games and that is the point. You just keep playing it until you either get bored or are willing to spend the money to get that new shiny object that nobody else you know has.

And I do not just base these things off of playing some game. I not only know a lot of people who play these sort of games but I have also done research on the types of people who play them. While the Smurfs may be targeted at children the people who are legitimately paying money for these games are usually adults who are fully willing to do it. You also can't blame a company that includes this system in every one of their games for including it in one that has children as the perceived target demographic. Perhaps they expect people who play there other games and who remember the Smurfs from their childhoods to give this game a shot and find it fun.

And if you honestly think that it is an issue that the password is help onto for a few minutes simply do not enter your password on anything before your child plays the game. If it wants to update say no and wait until after they are finished to update. If you buy something simply do not hand it to them right away. Alternatively simply turn the device off and on if you can't wait a few minutes to make your brat be quiet.

Or you could be a decent human being and interact with your child. Sure that might not always be an option but when you are interacting with them you teach them the differences between right and wrong and that there are consequences for breaking the rules. Then when they do break the rules because you trusted them with something they could not handle since you have not enforced any of your rules you grow some balls and take the game away from them. If you are really worried make it so you can not buy anything even with the passwords entered or you can not connect to the internet. Problem solved.

So... retarded parents verses douche companies with in-game purchases.
People i want to punch in the face vs people i want to punch in the face.

Damn, it's hard to decide who i should go for in this case.

Can we just remove both from the planet with, like, fire or something?

how much do smurf berried cost?
hahaha smurf berries, this whole thing kind of funny

This argument seems a bit silly. It seems about as effective as rallying against supermarkets having a selection of goodies by the checkout line, because they entice you to impulse buy things you didn't plan for, but now want to buy. Microtransactions like this are actually a veritable steady source of income, and whatever that means for the consumer, they're probably around to stay.

Wow. Just wow.

image

Erana:
Whoops, someone bought something on my computer using my information. Better sue the computer manufacturers!

I just don't get it. Why are they going after Apple? They didn't make the software in question, and its stupid for people to demand that they police the app store application process even more than they already do. For all the little oddities that slip through, their rules are tight enough as it is.

Exactly this. Shouldn't they be going after the creators? That, or they could just become better parents, you know, whatever's easier.

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