Parents Suing Apple Over In-Game Purchasing

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I really hate many of Apple policies and effects Apple marketing has on people but this is not something Apple has to answer for alone.

On the other hand combination of pleasurable, addictive and predatory activity is a problem. Most games today are more focused on their addictive tropes then on actual joy of gaming. Modern Warfare didn't explode because it was such a leap of quality in multiplayer gaming. It's leveling method, and clear advantage gained from that method, are means created to give false sense of accomplishment on regular basis which is one of the most psychologically addictive reward to be had. It's quick in the beginning to establish addiction and drawn on later to tie player down to a product. Add to that simple and almost hidden means of subsidizing the experience with money and you have a problem. Because then it's not any different than a addictive drug. Unfortunately, health of minors are not anywhere on governments priority list.

Smoking is mostly psychologically addictive and is banned from the children. Carbonated sodas like coca-cola are psychologically addictive too (physically too, sugar rush addiction works both ways) but they are OK.Difference is that people managed to pressure tobacco companies and governments into admitting the truth and soda companies would get their profits cut by huge margin if they had to mark their products as bad for health. Hell, minors are prohibited from obtaining alcohol drinks and red wine, in reasonable quantities, is well known as great for blood and immune system. Many old strong liqueurs are actually very effective medicine for various illness like heartburn, indigestion, low or high blood pressure, anemia and so on.

So, Apple is not to take most of the blame for this one, but games like this should be regulated. Simple law which would fore game and OS designers to implement these features

- OS support for separate in game accounts.
- Ability to group in game accounts into some sort of master accounts
- Ability to link in game/master accounts to main (financial) account.
- Ability to limit spending via in game/master accounts either on per time period basis or by manually transferring funds.
- Requirement of password input for purchase. Mass purchases available only through checkout system with clearly stated total which has to be dominant number on the screen.

would allow this form of business to operate and still be controlled and moderated. Now, bad parents will still get screwed over (nothing can prevent dumb/uninterested/unatentive parents and spoiled kids) but at least addictive behavior would be regulated as it should be. Again, I doubt this will happen since so many other addictive and potentially health degrading products are blessed by our governments but one can hope.

Okay, so taking this from a more substantial standpoint than 'easily angered geek', this lawsuit presents an interesting dilemma.
On the one hand, the parents are partially correct. Games that almost force you to pay for nebulous digital currencies are underhanded. But on the other hand, this isn't really Apples fault, and they've done their part to reduce this method of cash grabbing.
Really, I think these disgruntled people should take up their problems with the game creators, and not the service that provides the games.

i think only good can come for the game industry at large if the whole skinner box paradigm gets a few dents.

way to many games that soley rely on that principle.

time for new stuff guys.

Parents who give their children something, like access to the internet, an iphone, or a console.. and then give their children their credit card information or input it themselves, should be held 100% responsible for any purchase and expected, no matter how large, to pay up.

There should be no avenue for complaint or legal action. No mattetr what the situation.

Parent should, at all times, be held 100% responsible for their childrens actions. They are responsible for the children, and for teaching them how to behave and what to do.

This also includes content gates, age ratings, and all other things designed for use by adults.

If at any tiome an adult is inconvenienced in any manner when trying to access something designed for adult, by "child safety" features then that feature is taking it to far and should be removed.

I don't care if the arguement is "omg, my kid might spend $1000 on a game" or "omg my child might see porn" or "I don't want my child watching the Human Centipede". You are the parent, you are responsible, it is your problem. Don't inconveience your fellow adults who are looking to use things designed for them.

As a side note.. yes, I am a parent.

DiamanteGeeza:

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... ;-)

So, should we also sue gun-makers because someone used a gun to murder someone else? Should we sue makers of kitchen cutlery because someone used a cleaver to kill someone else? Should we sue car makers because someone purposefully ran over another person? Just because a company makes something doesn't make them immediately culpable to the abuses fostered by others, because even the most benign object can have unintended uses to inflict harm on others (for example, I could kill someone using just a sheet of paper). Unless that company is deliberately producing a product which clearly and demonstrably design with the exact intended purpose to commit some harmful, criminal, or illegal action against another, it seems to me that it is difficult to hold the maker of the product culpable to the actions of those abuse the purpose and design of the product such to inflict undue harm or loss on others. Certainly, the case can be made that a micro-transaction system is not built with the expressed purpose of inflicting undue harm or loss upon others.

The only real reason Apple is being targeted in this law-suit is because they are a high-profile company with $98 billion in cash. Otherwise, the suit would go after the true culprits here, the people that made a game intentionally designed to exploit the poor judgement of children to scam hundreds of dollars from parents (and parents too silly to realize that they shouldn't let their children have access to or use of the family financial accounts).

Honestly, seeing any app or game, whether on the App Store or elsewhere, with an in-app purchase of $99 should immediately send the Bullshit Detector(TM) into a frenzy signaling one to avoid such an app like the plague, or at least examine it much more closely and thinking carefully through potential consequences before purchasing such an app or game.

ITT: bad parents blaming other people for their unwillingness to watch and interact their own children.

TheKasp:
Don't give your spawn access to credit card informations then. Or you know... teach them to use money properly. Like on TF2 hats!

hear hear, well said sir

Timmey:

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.

Dude, I don't even know my itunes password, I use a program called keypass where I plug in the parameters for a password given to me by a website ( in this case apple) and it generates it, and keeps it in an encrypted database, I know 1 password, the one I use to access that database, and that particular password is pretty damn tough to crack ( I made sure that if I was gonna memorize 1 password it would be complex) So YEAH actually considering that I have made the password as strong as it can be by apples specifications IT IS their fault if it gets hacked, they set the parameters NOT ME.

when I plug in a password it is copied and pasted. not typed.

When there's a 15 min window after the game's accessed that no checks are made for in-game purchases, that's not a parent being irresponsible. That's the game company slipping in a loophole so that a 6 yr old has 15 mins of credit access that the parents know nothing about. I very much doubt that anywhere in the game menus there is a disclaimer saying "For the first 15 minutes, credit access is automatically assumed to be from an adult so no blocks are in place." If that warning was there, up front, and not buried in an EULA, nobody would download the game. It's an obvious scam and the company deserves to be sued into oblivion.

Solution:
Don't buy your spoiled brat of a kid an i<thing> and a stack of apps to play with, do what you are supposed to do as a parent and look after them yourself!

gigastar:
On the one hand, overreacting parents.

On the other hand, manipulative microtransactions.

Im not sure which side i loathe more...

Pretty much this. I am not sure which side I should stand on either. It's not like you can keep an eye on your kids 24/7, and (speaking for myself) kids always manage to find out things like passwords. That being said, when I was growing up, there was no such thing as micro-transactions...sooooo... I am really conflicted here.

Hevva:
must warn parents and children that those $99 Smurfberries do cost actual, real, non-Smurf cash.

$99???!!!???

What on earth do these smurfberries do?

It doesn't help that Apple FORCES you to put a credit card on there. Which is a bull shit practice in my opinion.

They are banking on the fact that people will accidentally purchase something. (no pun intended) Otherwise why else force someone to put their card in there system?

Convenience?

That's bull shit, as I find it more convenient to pull out my credit card every time I want to make a purchase.

Hey Apple if League of Legends can do micro transactions right and make millions off of it, so can you. Stop being douche nozzles and get over yourself.

There are these things called "consumer protection" and "unconscionability," which we used to have in America. These "games" are quite literally traps, designed to lure in kids and coerce them into charging stuff to their parents' credit cards, and should get the boot. But, of course, you just LOVE to defend your pet companies because they just so happen to make video games. So of course! They blame the parents!

Just BAN microtransactions already. (in b4 "That will set the medium back a decade.")

You morons who don't understand that the parents are victims of megacorporations targeting their children make me sick.

Maybe keep a closer eye on your kids and teach them not to buy stuff like that? Its not up to them to dictate whether everyone should be stopped from using their money however they want.

ProfMike789:
There are these things called "consumer protection" and "unconscionability," which we used to have in America. These "games" are quite literally traps, designed to lure in kids and coerce them into charging stuff to their parents' credit cards, and should get the boot. But, of course, you just LOVE to defend your pet companies because they just so happen to make video games. So of course! They blame the parents!

Just BAN microtransactions already. (in b4 "That will set the medium back a decade.")

You morons who don't understand that the parents are victims of megacorporations targeting their children make me sick.

First of hall I hate apple and almost all games with micro transactions. Parents should teach their kids to avoid spending money on things like this or even just tell them no. Companies exist to make a profit, they should not have to sacrifice that because parents complain that they didn't keep a better eye on their children.

Wholeheartedly support the parents in this case. It's nothing specifically against Apple, but against the business practise employed to take this money by means of a few clicks. I absolutely abhor this sort of micro-transactions, along with the text message chargeback thing (whereby companies send text messages that bill payers are charged up to 5 for EACH).

If I had any power in the communications industry, I would make these shady, unscrupulous and frankly evil business practices illegal. I genuinely consider these to be *no different* than outright theft. America on the other hand is all about the money so will trounce all over the law (even other nations' laws) in the name of the corporate dollar.

Companies who dare to make money with their games? Blasphemy!

As for the children: Parents, please ensure yourself that your child doesn't spend that much money on virtual things. That is your responsibility, nobody else's.

Perhaps their lack of financial perspective is also due to the fact that you buy them expensive iDevices...

gigastar:
On the one hand, stupid parents.

On the other hand, manipulative microtransactions.

Im not sure which side i loathe more...

Fixed that for you. Yes, the microtransactions in some iOS games are monsterous, but this is ENTIRELY the parents fault.

KingsGambit:
Wholeheartedly support the parents in this case. It's nothing specifically against Apple, but against the business practise employed to take this money by means of a few clicks. I absolutely abhor this sort of micro-transactions, along with the text message chargeback thing (whereby companies send text messages that bill payers are charged up to 5 for EACH).

If I had any power in the communications industry, I would make these shady, unscrupulous and frankly evil business practices illegal. I genuinely consider these to be *no different* than outright theft. America on the other hand is all about the money so will trounce all over the law (even other nations' laws) in the name of the corporate dollar.

You mean 'few clicks' as in 'entering several passwords, confirming your identity and enabling the option to spend money ingame'?
And since the game outright warns you that it is actual real life money being spent there, it doesn't seem that 'shady' to me.

Mouse_Crouse:

gigastar:
On the one hand, overreacting parents.
On the other hand, manipulative microtransactions.
Im not sure which side i loathe more...

TheKasp:
Don't give your spawn access to credit card informations then. Or you know... teach them to use money properly. Like on TF2 hats!

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.

Hookah:
ITT: dumb parents want someone else to blame for their own failures.

If I remember correctly form the original story, the issue has nothing to do with parents not watching. When you put in your password for something unrelated, it stays unlocked for several minutes and allows people without proper password knowledge to completely bypass it and make crazy purchases. Which IS a big problem.

Going to go check that now.

Ah, yes here it is.

"Some parents complain that parental controls are difficult to use or have loopholes, like giving users a 15-minutes window to make purchases without re-entering a password after it's entered once."

Should they be watched closer... sure. But there's some system flaws that really do need to be addressed.

OR (And this is just a thought) don't give your kids an iPhone or access to one if you know they can make ridiculous purchases. The parents have the power, they should tell them they're not allowed to play those sorts of games if they think they're so bad.

Bloodstain:
You mean 'few clicks' as in 'entering several passwords, confirming your identity and enabling the option to spend money ingame'?
And since the game outright warns you that it is actual real life money being spent there, it doesn't seem that 'shady' to me.

It is almost as shady and underhanded as you can get short of robbing someone. These tactics are used by casinos around the world, with Las Vegas as a perfect example of how it's done. People have no sense of time, they spend chips not cash so there's a disconnect from their wallets. They get free drinks (incentives to continue) and with the addictive nature of the game(s) and the ease with which one can just spend some more money to continue, people spend money as if it didn't matter or exist just to get the buzz of playing and/or winning.

When I made my first purchase with Play.com or Steam, two online retailers that store your card details and make it easy to buys things with very few clicks, I thought, and still do that it's quite evil how easy and quick it is. Click mouse, get stuff, don't see any cash change hands or worry about if I can afford it. People go bankrupt from poorly managing money. There are significantly and observably more (by an order of magnitude) bookies, pawn brokers and betting shops in poor areas than in more affluent ones. This is *not* a coincidence.

Apple are just as bad in this regard. They make more money from the App Store than from every other product and service they offer combined. iTunes and the App Store also work like this. Enter card details, click click buy stuff. No money changes hands. Zynga and facebook games do the same and the founder of Zynga himself went on record saying just what kind of practices he employed at the start.

These business practices are shady and evil and I honestly believe should be illegal. They are designed in every possible way to con, entice, cajole and tempt people to carry on clicking, pushing buttons and seeing sparkling lights at the cost of real money they never see. By getting children to do it it's significantly worse. I hope the judge in this case sees sense and sets a precedent. He won't though. Corporate tax dollars are the single most important thing in the USA.

How is that Apple's fault?

Maybe their kid is just too irresponsible to handle a credit card number? My little brother has an iPod touch and he's been in trouble a few times already because money goes missing, and it ends up in to form of a stupid waste of money app. By "money missing" I don't mean fucking $1400. That's outrageous.

Watch your fucking kids.

Sorry but if you give your child an iDevice that's connected straight to your credit card and tell them the password they need to spend money on it, then any spend that follows is entirely your own fault.

captcha: baby blues
No way that's a coincidence!

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.

Apple has always been super strict about the app-store. They approve every app that comes in, I think that is what the parents are using as their argument.

is it that hard to monitor your kids? also isn't this news already a few years old?

You gave your kids your passwords...

are

you

fucking

stupid.

newwiseman:
Apple needs to have an in-app purchase toggle in the general setting of the iOS not in the apps themselves.

As much as I hate the monetization at work in these games it is where the majority of those developers income comes from, for better or worse, and outlawing the practice all together is not the answer.

The real problem is that parents are so quick to hand off the virtual baby sitter, stay out of my hair, devices that they don't even bother to familiarize themselves with the actions they need to take to defend their wallets and their children from influences they feel are questionable. But when most parents now days are as equally immature as their entitled brood; what more can we expect. The whole culture is trained to blame someone else before excepting any responsibility. That was the whole point of the South Park movie.

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

But, what do I know, I'm just a technology support specialist, in a predominantly Apple environment, who has worked eight hours a day in public middle schools for 4 years... Someone help me.

You know some parents actually use tablet PCs as learning tools for their ASD children?

Don't just assume it's all snot-nosed brats, there are some legitametly good parents stung by this, and why i think microtransaction games are such awful ideas.

DVS BSTrD:
So yes parents are apparently fine with their money being thrown away as long as their selfish little groin spawn aren't the ones doing it.

They'd probably get more for thosein-app purchases.

gigastar:
On the one hand, overreacting parents.

On the other hand, manipulative microtransactions.

Im not sure which side i loathe more...

I'm personally hoping the judge offers up some humiliating punishment for both.

Well if they can actually prove these games have actual addictive qualities they might have a lawsuit. I've been fairly concerned about alot of these social games having subliminal messaging in them. Because I have seen people addicted to them to the point of it being a chemical addiction. As for it being all the parents fault. I don't quite know. Large corporations exploit, its what they do.

I'm surprised how many people show absolutely no sympathy for the parents. I don't think it's that bizarre that parents aren't watching their children while they play videogames. If anything, I think it's pretty stupid for parents to want to control their children all the time, especially when they are on the couch, out of harm's way.

Also, I don't know the specifics of each case, but last time I checked my phone doesn't ask for a password when it urges me to buy shit I don't want.

Antari:
Well if they can actually prove these games have actual addictive qualities they might have a lawsuit. I've been fairly concerned about alot of these social games having subliminal messaging in them. Because I have seen people addicted to them to the point of it being a chemical addiction. As for it being all the parents fault. I don't quite know. Large corporations exploit, its what they do.

It isn't a chemical addiction. Extra Credits did a few episodes on games that use those sorts of practices. I would, however, call some of their practices straight up brain washing.

TheKasp:
Teach them to use money properly. Like on TF2 hats!

Agreed!
That's what I tell everybody, no one listens though...

Revolutionaryloser:
I'm surprised how many people show absolutely no sympathy for the parents. I don't think it's that bizarre that parents aren't watching their children while they play videogames. If anything, I think it's pretty stupid for parents to want to control their children all the time, especially when they are on the couch, out of harm's way.

Also, I don't know the specifics of each case, but last time I checked my phone doesn't ask for a password when it urges me to buy shit I don't want.

I don't think it is bizarre either, but i'm pretty jaded as to my views on the state of modern parenting. Ideally gaming would be used as a parenting tool rather then what i see it being used today: e.g. "we're busy, here, play with this". Leaving your kid unsupervised with anything that you as a parent are not familiar with is bad parenting. Not uncommon, mind you, but bad.

The consequences of this particular symptom of negligent parenting just tend to be a bit more immediately visceral then the long term issues that arise with the same cause. This should serve more as a wake up call rather then a rally against the evil entertainment corporation doing what they do.

gigastar:
On the one hand, overreacting parents.

On the other hand, manipulative microtransactions.

Im not sure which side i loathe more...

It's a tough one, no mistake.

Personally, I think the whole manipulative-micro-transactions scene does sometimes stop just short of actual criminal fraud. However, so long as it does stop short of that line, then it's not really the job of law-makers to prevent asshole business strategies.

But a self-regulating industry run by responsible individuals would be nice. We can hope for that, right? Right?!

Revolutionaryloser:
I'm surprised how many people show absolutely no sympathy for the parents. I don't think it's that bizarre that parents aren't watching their children while they play videogames. If anything, I think it's pretty stupid for parents to want to control their children all the time, especially when they are on the couch, out of harm's way.

Also, I don't know the specifics of each case, but last time I checked my phone doesn't ask for a password when it urges me to buy shit I don't want.

I think the argument here is that Apple say they have made changes so that parents can prevent their children from buying content. (Passwords, turning off in-game purchasing, etc.) Assuming that is the case (and I'm not saying it's impossible Apple are lying) then the parents have all the tools they need to leave their children unsupervised playing games, as long as they are careful to set them up.

I remember a similar fuss when a young child managed to buy a car on ebay because his dad left the computer on, with ebay open in a browser and logged in. The parents tried to blame ebay, but really it's no different to your child breaking a priceless Ming vase because you left it within their reach.

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