Microsoft Helps Out Battlefield Dad

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Microsoft Helps Out Battlefield Dad

The man who found himself stuck with a copy of Battlefield 1943 that his son couldn't play finally got a happy ending and a way to ensure that he won't run into the same problem again in the future.

Thomas Wetzel, you may recall, ran into some grief with Electronic Arts and Microsoft when he purchased a copy of Battlefield 1943 for his nine-year-old son so the two could play together online, only to find out that the game couldn't be used on the boy's child account on Xbox Live. Things got stickier when EA trundled out its "no refund" policy; the actual amount of money involved was relatively tiny but you can't put a price on principle.

After horsing around for awhile, Wetzel made a blog post describing his troubles and linked it to @xboxsupport on Twitter, which responded quickly but said, at first, that there was nothing to be done. After a little more pushing, however, somebody asked him to forward the two Gamertags involved, and then the wheels started to turn.

A Microsoft support rep named Davey called Wetzel the next day and gave him a refund for the points he spent on the game, but he also went above and beyond the call of duty by coming up with a way to make sure this nonsense wouldn't crop up again. He confirmed that Microsoft cannot alter the ages on Xbox Live accounts but told him to create a new account, after which he'd send him codes equivalent to the time left on his current Gold subscription to add to it.

It's not a perfect solution - Wetzel's not looking forward to replaying the hard missions of Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis - but aside from that, he says it's just about exactly what he was after. And yes, he used the refunded points to re-buy Battlefield 1943 for the new account so after all this, he'll finally get to play the game with his son.

"A couple of the commenters on The Escapist piece cracked me up. They were applauding my decision to be involved in my kid's hobby," he wrote. "Little do they know I'm dragging the poor kid into *my* hobby. I've been a gamer since I first got an Atari 2600 back in the day, and now I'm passing along the terrible tradition to my son."

He also said he was surprised by the number of users who felt he shouldn't be given a refund because the BF1943 terms and conditions make it clear that players must be at least 13 years old. A screenshot posted by mjc0961 originally made him feel like "an idiot" until he redownloaded the game on the new account and realized just how deep the warning is buried. He even created a quickie YouTube video to make his point and although the notification isn't hidden away under 47 pages of microscopic text, let's be honest about it - nobody ever reads the T&C anyway and slapping a potentially crippling restriction like this in there isn't exactly playing fair.

In any event, it's a happy ending for the Wetzel boys and I'm glad to see them get it. Way to stick it to the man, guys!

Permalink

its still bullshit, they shouldnt even allow a game to be purchased for an account that cant play it, if they do then thats a trap that should be illegal

I'll leave my opinion regarding whether he deserved a refund or not etc out, but there's one thing:

'Deeply buried?' His own Youtube video shows that it's included on the game's marketplace page and take 2 seconds of scrolling to find, within the first 6 sentences of a pretty short set of Terms and Conditions. I can understand calling it deeply buried if it's on page 9 of a 14 page legalese strewn PDF, but it's literally right there before you buy the game.

Call me arsey, but when the T&C are that short, there's no excuse not the read them.

Camarilla:
'Deeply buried?' His own Youtube video shows that it's included on the game's marketplace page and take 2 seconds of scrolling to find, within the first 6 sentences of a pretty short set of Terms and Conditions. I can understand calling it deeply buried if it's on page 9 of a 14 page legalese strewn PDF, but it's literally right there before you buy the game.

Call me arsey, but when the T&C are that short, there's no excuse not the read them.

Not only that, it's in freakin' caps that jumped out at me as he scrolled. Pretty hard to miss.

Camarilla:
I'll leave my opinion regarding whether he deserved a refund or not etc out, but there's one thing:

'Deeply buried?' His own Youtube video shows that it's included on the game's marketplace page and take 2 seconds of scrolling to find, within the first 6 sentences of a pretty short set of Terms and Conditions. I can understand calling it deeply buried if it's on page 9 of a 14 page legalese strewn PDF, but it's literally right there before you buy the game.

Call me arsey, but when the T&C are that short, there's no excuse not the read them.

Took the words right out of my mouth... um, fingertips.

Everyone seems to get a refund if they shout loud enough, but at least this guy had a decent reason to. Not the best reason but not the worst either.

I loved Operation genesis...

OT, glad to see something done about this. It brings warmth to my heart

Sorry, but America needs the "recommended age limit" to become a legal age limit. I know that opinion isn't exactly popular on here, but it would at least give some validity to decisions like this. The game was rated 13, the kid is 9. These are the same parents that moan when their kids are exposed to "offensive" material in games or online.

Actually he did not deserve any refund, it was there in the information area.

When buying stuff online you should always take a quick look at that kind of stuff. If you do happen to not pay attention to that stuff then it is your fault.

All the needed information is there

Verlander:
Sorry, but America needs the "recommended age limit" to become a legal age limit. I know that opinion isn't exactly popular on here, but it would at least give some validity to decisions like this. The game was rated 13, the kid is 9. These are the same parents that moan when their kids are exposed to "offensive" material in games or online.

Not really - the father is a gamer, I seriously doubt that he doesn't know what his kid is playing.

Also - good for MS and the kid! Although I get the feeling that this is probably true but MS is using it for publicity. To make themselves look a bit better in the public's eyes.

EDIT: I should also mention that irresponsible parents will be irresponsible parents. They will end up buying the game for their kid anyway. Like all the parents that bitched about San Andreas after buying GTA 3 and Vice City and bitching about those as well.

Morale of the story: You get a refund for a 'non-refundable purchase' if you complain loud enough and get attention.

Is this a news post because The Escapist was the only site that would run with the story?
I don't agree the terms were "deeply buried" nor do I beleive he should have received a re-fund [something that I assume only occurred due to this media "outrage"]. Then again after the news post, created by The Escapist on the issue that, seemingly, purposely mis-directed readers about the nature of the incident I'm not surprised.

Worgen:
its still bullshit, they shouldnt even allow a game to be purchased for an account that cant play it, if they do then thats a trap that should be illegal

Though this is true; Microsoft should make the conditions clearer for those that refuse to do even the most basic of research.

You guys are being horrible to this guy. He just wanted a refund or something for a game he was "tricked" with buying. It may say that you must be 13, but I know for a fact there are many things online that say you have to be a certain age, and they don't eat you wallet out of your pants if it finds out you did it anyway.

EDIT:
+5 cool points for mentioning The Escapist :D

How many ToS have you actually read? It may not be the best habit, but 99% of people just scroll to the bottom and click "I agree." I recall the incident where Gamespot or something put a notice in their ToS saying that they got their customer's souls... Should he have read it more carefully? Yes. Do most people read them carefully? No. He purchased the game, he shouldn't be barred from playing and then told he can't get a refund.

What I find the most interesting about this whole situation was that the game was bought on a 9-year-old's account when the game can only be played by 13+ year olds.

And yet, he was still allowed to purchase the game.

Whether or not the warning was there I don't think is the issue, and if it was it seems that the game itself didn't even abide by it if it allowed a 9-year-old that he wouldn't have been able to play in the first place. That's just shady, I think, and as other people had pointed out before it's akin to letting a 16-year-old buy a beer, then calling the police on him due to "illegal possession".

Jumplion:
What I find the most interesting about this whole situation was that the game was bought on a 9-year-old's account when the game can only be played by 13+ year olds.

And yet, he was still allowed to purchase the game.

Whether or not the warning was there I don't think is the issue, and if it was it seems that the game didn't even abide by it if it allowed a 9-year-old that he wouldn't have been able to play in the first place.

This and kudos to the customer service representative.

Natdaprat:
Morale of the story: You get a refund for a 'non-refundable purchase' if you complain loud enough and get attention.

the moral of the story is that ea and ms are perfectly willing to sell you something that they wont allow you to use just because you didnt read all of a contract that is of dubious legality

kane.malakos:
How many ToS have you actually read? It may not be the best habit, but 99% of people just scroll to the bottom and click "I agree." I recall the incident where Gamespot or something put a notice in their ToS saying that they got their customer's souls... Should he have read it more carefully? Yes. Do most people read them carefully? No. He purchased the game, he shouldn't be barred from playing and then told he can't get a refund.

that was actually an april fools joke that a company threw in the tos, it wasnt gamespot, it was just reported by them

Andy Chalk:
He confirmed that Microsoft cannot alter the ages on Xbox Live accounts

That's BS.

There's many ways to do it, you don't even need to know how the thing works, just look how isntructions.

Plus, if MS can do it once the age that was put in becomes 18 or 13 or whatever, then they can do it any time.

Actually, the age thingy should be a recommendation only. If the Parents think their child is ready to play or see this and that, it is.

I'm tired, so I didn't read the whole thing, but what I'm getting from this is that WalMart gave this guy a happy ending.

Jumplion:
What I find the most interesting about this whole situation was that the game was bought on a 9-year-old's account when the game can only be played by 13+ year olds.

And yet, he was still allowed to purchase the game.

Whether or not the warning was there I don't think is the issue, and if it was it seems that the game itself didn't even abide by it if it allowed a 9-year-old that he wouldn't have been able to play in the first place. That's just shady, I think, and as other people had pointed out before it's akin to letting a 16-year-old buy a beer, then calling the police on him due to "illegal possession".

...You got a point.

The terms and conditions state you must be 13 to register the account and you must register to play. As he is well above 13, according to the T&Cs he should have been able to register the account on his son's behalf.

This is a failure in the system, parental controls need to work both ways, limiting the content you don't want your child seeing but allowing those you do.

It's up to the parent to decide what is suitable for their child not anyone else.

Verlander:
Sorry, but America needs the "recommended age limit" to become a legal age limit. I know that opinion isn't exactly popular on here, but it would at least give some validity to decisions like this. The game was rated 13, the kid is 9. These are the same parents that moan when their kids are exposed to "offensive" material in games or online.

No, this is exactly the right sort of parent, one who takes the time to research what is suitable for his child. Your solution would make good parents criminals for daring to think they know their children better than the government or games industry.

Out of curiosity I'd love t know what would happen if a person on the Escapist with Publishers club membership admitted to being under-13. It's a year payment and at no point during payment (that I saw), does it say you need to be over 13. Of course it does say that when you make your account. :)

This follow up seems to miss the entire point of the parent letting his kid play an "M" rated game, especially under the current climate. I might be thinking of the wrong guy, but that seemed to be the gist of a lot of opposition, including mine.

As I said at the time I believe, PG stands for "Parental Guidance" which is the kind of product that a parent can choose whether their kid should or should not see, this is "T" for video games. The R rating stands for "Restricted" and is the equivilent of a video game's M rating. That means that a kid should under no circumstances be experiencing that material, and a parent who allows it is being negligent.

Cases like this are EXACTLY why games are going up before the Supreme Court. The ratings are not legally enforcable. It's not a crime to violate them, because they aren't part of the law. People want to make them a matter of law rather than a simple voluntary guidepost because of situations exactly like this, and letting the kid play that "M" rated game even with a Parent's permission pretty much proves the point being made by those pushing for legal regulation.

It's as much a matter of timing as anything, as I remember the details of this case, the situation is as bad as EA's "Your Mom Hates This Game" Ad campaign.

Truthfully I think this resolution came about due to fears of the bad press, and the loss of money it could entail. The companies putting money before responsibility is exactly how we got into this whole mess with gaming being threatened by legal regulation, and the threat to free speech that ultimatly entails.

If "we" wind up losing that case, and it snowballs into even worse attacks on our freedom of speech, this is the kind of case we're going to have to blame for it.

Andy, you sure are trumpeting pretty loudly in favor of someone who disregarded reading Terms of service just to save a few seconds. Shady or not, the companies were all doing the 100% legal thing and had the digital paperwork to prove it. While I might feel slightly sorry for him had he not gotten a refund, it was his own fault.

Therumancer:
As I said at the time I believe, PG stands for "Parental Guidance" which is the kind of product that a parent can choose whether their kid should or should not see, this is "T" for video games. The R rating stands for "Restricted" and is the equivalent of a video game's M rating. That means that a kid should under no circumstances be experiencing that material, and a parent who allows it is being negligent.

Parents can still accompany their kids to an R rated movie (at least from what I've experienced), and plenty of them sneak into those theaters or are allowed access anyway, so I don't really see your point.

Worgen:
its still bullshit, they shouldnt even allow a game to be purchased for an account that cant play it, if they do then thats a trap that should be illegal

I kind of agree. I'm glad everyone is happy, but if you're using a 9 year old profile, YOU HAVE TOF FUCKING READ!!!

I'm 21, I don't read age restrictions, because I'm in Canada and I was legal 3 years ago. a 9 year old or his father will have to read a little more carefully for fear of age restrictions.

I also feel the video was unecessary. It wasn't THAT far down and it was in caps

Jumplion:

Therumancer:
As I said at the time I believe, PG stands for "Parental Guidance" which is the kind of product that a parent can choose whether their kid should or should not see, this is "T" for video games. The R rating stands for "Restricted" and is the equivalent of a video game's M rating. That means that a kid should under no circumstances be experiencing that material, and a parent who allows it is being negligent.

Parents can still accompany their kids to an R rated movie (at least from what I've experienced), and plenty of them sneak into those theaters or are allowed access anyway, so I don't really see your point.

That's because the ratings are not legally enforced, they aren't laws. Things like the ESRB and MPAA are private groups, NOT part of the goverment, and have no abillity to pass or enforce laws. It comes down to the business owners to enforce the ratings on their private property, and people to otherwise abide by the regulations.

A parent CAN accompany a kid to an "R" rated movie, and isn't violating a any laws in doing so, though technically the MPAA could fine the theater owner if they paid attention. This is however negligent behavior and in something like a divorce case, one parent proving the other parent took the kids to see an "R" rated movie could be highly influential (and has been used before) because it shows negligent behavior.

Of course the biggest differance right now is that MOVIES are not being threatened by the goverment but GAMES are. Due to people and businesses not abiding by the rating system for games, there is an attempt being made to make those ratings legally enforcable. This means that if a parent lets a kid play an "M" rated game it becomes an actual crime. If a Gamestop employee sell an "M" rated game to a kid, even with parental permission, that also becomes a crime.

This is what the whole legal fiasco Governor Schwartzneggar started is all about, and why it's going to The Supreme Court. It's a free speech issue because the goverment isn't supposed to be able to regulate the media, and by making ratings legally enforcable and deciding what people can and cannot choose to access in ANY context establishes dangerous precent. I'm surpriused your not aware of this, it's been all over the news, and tons of articles have been on The Escapist about it.

At any rate, with companies being called negligent and not enforcing the ratings, and people PAYING ATTENTION due to this being fought in the highest court in our nation, and the side wanting to do the regulation looking for ammunition, a case with Microsoft, or any company, knowingly giving a minor access to an "M" rated game helps their case. They know that the parent in question is being negligent and has every intention of giving access to that game to a minor. There isn't even the plausible deniability involve in a situation where an adult buys a game and them privatly gives it to a kid later.

Well another case of somebody being to lazy to look at the terms and complaining when a 9yr old cant play a game rated for those 13+. If he wanted to play the game with his son then why didn't he just download the thing on his account. It would make a lot more sense to do it that way then to use your sons.

I do think that if your account states your age below the required to play the game then you should not be able to purchase it. It just adds one more security level to the system so idiots will have less to complain about.

Looking at that YouTube clip it does seem that the T for Teen rating was pretty easy to spot. That should have at least set some alarm bells ringing that a slightly deeper look at the ToS might have been in order.

Worgen:
its still bullshit, they shouldnt even allow a game to be purchased for an account that cant play it, if they do then thats a trap that should be illegal

^This. Also, it's even greater bullshit that a parent can't override settings at his/her whim. The decision for a child to be able to play video games, of whatever rating, belongs to the parent - not to Microsoft, EA or any other related party.

Therumancer:
Le Snip

Ah, okay, I see what you mean now.

Still hate kids online but at least this one has his dad playing alongside him.

Wow.. a miracle Microsoft does something good
End of the world is near.

Natdaprat:
Morale of the story: You get a refund for a 'non-refundable purchase' if you complain loud enough and get attention.

Happens in retail all the time. Policies only apply to those willing to roll over for them.

D_987:
Is this a news post because The Escapist was the only site that would run with the story?

No, it's news because we say it is. Sir.

Jumplion:
What I find the most interesting about this whole situation was that the game was bought on a 9-year-old's account when the game can only be played by 13+ year olds. And yet, he was still allowed to purchase the game.

Ding. If the game has an age policy and can detect if the age on the account doesn't meet it, it should not be sold. Taking somebody's money and then rolling out the age policy is, as you say, shady.

Jabberwock xeno:
There's many ways to do it, you don't even need to know how the thing works, just look how isntructions.

I don't have an Xbox Live so I can't confirm or deny. Can you enlighten us?

The bottom line is that there are too many "should haves" throughout this case. Should Wetzel have read the T&C a little more closely? Sure. Should he, as a parent, be able to override an arbitrary age limit? Also sure. Should there be some mechanism for correcting situations like this without having to run through two separate customer service departments, a blog post and Twitter? I think so.

He didn't abuse the system, he made a mistake, and in my mind there's no question that mistake was helped along by EA. Hanging a guy out to dry for something like that is unfair.

Haha, I'm in the news. It's actually a little embarrassing somehow.

I still say he got way more than he deserved here. The block of text isn't THAT long, not when you compare it to the gigantic EULA. And no, that is not buried away. Hell, the guy found it in a place even I didn't know about (on the details page, before he clicks "download again"). If anything, his video shows how EASY it is to find the age requirement information both before you click anything that asks you to buy it, and then again before you confirm your purchase, and that it is indeed his fault that he didn't pay more attention before rushing to the "buy game" button.

But anyway, it's nice that this story got a happy ending for everyone: he and his son can play together, and Microsoft gets a nice chunk of respect and positive PR for going so far to make their customers happy. They could have just said "Sorry, it was right there that you needed to be 13, so you'll just have to wait 4 years to play." and I would have said "yep that's fair" and not have lost any respect for Microsoft. But this was really great, kudos to you for this MS.
Why does MS have such a bad rep among people anyway? At the very least, their Xbox team is great. Between giving that autistic kid and his mom lying about the kid cheating and Microsoft giving them some Xbox Live Gold time or MS points (I don't remember which) and this, you'd think more people would have nice things to say about them.

Ah well. All's well that ends well, I guess. Except you, EA. You still need to get rid of that EA Account shit: people's PSN and Xbox Live accounts should be enough for the console versions.

Andy Chalk:
Ding. If the game has an age policy and can detect if the age on the account doesn't meet it, it should not be sold. Taking somebody's money and then rolling out the age policy is, as you say, shady.

That's on EA though, not Microsoft. It wasn't Microsoft's policies that said a 9 year old couldn't play the game. That was EA's constant requirement of having an EA Account to play any of their games online, regardless of platform. So I don't know what Microsoft (or Sony, since the same thing happens on Playstation Network) could really do here. Kids are normally only blocked from playing certain games if the parental controls are set for various ESRB ratings, otherwise you can play whatever you want at any age on PSN or Xbox Live. It's EA throwing in the extra age requirement here.
If we have to look at anyone to say "Do something to stop this from happening again", I vote we look at EA. MS and Sony do all they can by making sure that little blurb of terms and conditions says you have to be 13 for a required EA account. Of course, EA won't do anything. An EA account is another form of DRM and we all know how much they love to ruin the customer's day with that shit.

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