A story has popped up on Reddit, and is doing the rounds online, which serves as yet another cautionary tale against microtransactions the predatory targeting of unaware children in games.
Reddit user A_Sad_Frog posted a story about how they let their niece and nephew use their PSN account, so that they could have access to his “far superior collection of games.” This good bit of solidarity proved to a rather depressing tale though, as A_Sad_Frog found out a few weeks later. Initially, they had thought nothing of letting the kids use the account, assuming that Sony had checks in place to prevent the kids from using his financial information attached to the account to make purchases. This assumption proved to be their undoing though.
A_Sad_Frog was contacted by the kids’ father (his brother-in-law), who became suspicious after the kids suddenly had over 65,000 in V-Bucks on the account they were using. And sure enough, the kids had been able to purchase a huge amount of V-Bucks on the PSN account in question. The total amount purchased amounted to £422.90 worth of V-Bucks ($531 in the US).
The real shot in the gut was that the account which the money was taken from had been earmarked for A_Sad_Frog’s girlfriend to take a trip to the US to visit family. “She will have expenses sorted because she’s staying with family, but she will be going with virtually zero spending money now, and they had a number of activites [sic] planned which she likely can’t take part in now.”
“I’m not mad at the kids. I genuinely don’t think they meant it. I’m mad at myself. I didn’t think it was possible, but then I should have done more research,” Frog continued. “We’re not a rich couple, and this one has hit us both pretty hard.”
Attempts to recoup the lost funds have so far been unsuccessful, and it doesn’t look likely that the user will be able to get their money back.
If you’ve been paying attention, you know full well how many gamers feel about loot boxes and microtransactions in the modern era of games. And it’s a pretty strange bunch of developments. Gamers in equal measure defending and decrying the monetization strategy as necessary. One particularly infamous Polygon article claimed that the banning of loot boxes and certain types of microtransactions was a dangerous interference in the free market, and would lead to the death of sports games as we know them. Gamers shot back with a lot of vitriol against that particular stance with various points about predatory behavior and the exploitation of children for the sake of corporate profits.
Fortnite has also found itself on the wrong end of legislation in some countries, like Iraq, as the game was banned due to the promotion of violence.
All of this, including this newest story, paints a pretty stark picture of the state of monetization online. And even though this is clearly an accident, the lack of financial verification is something that needs to be addressed. And even though Sony can’t really be blamed as the system isn’t meant to be shared in such a way, it still really sucks for this particular gamer.