Japanese game companies are putting restrictions on teenage spending in social games.
Facing "growing calls" for action, major Japanese social and mobile game companies Gree Inc. and DeNA Co. have agreed to set limits on what "young" gamers can spend on in-game purchases each month. Beginning today, Gree will impose a monthly spending cap of ¥10,000 ($124) on gamers aged 16 to 19, while those under 15 will be limited to half that amount; DeNA will put similar limits in place in June, but its ¥10,000 cap will apply only to gamers aged 16 and 17.
The lack of spending limits [and, one might suggest, parental oversight] is apparently a real problem in Japan, where according to The Japan Times, "young customers tend to spend tens of thousands of yen a month" on mobile games. Four other social gaming companies - NHN Japan Corp., CyberAgent Inc., Dwango Co. and Mixi Inc. - also took part in a "joint committee" set up to examine the issue in March, but have not yet announced plans for similar limits of their own.
It's hard to say how bad the situation actually is, especially given how easily the combination of "young people" and videogames can add up to hysteria and exaggeration, but concerns about kids blowing boatloads boatloads of money on mobile games isn't limited to Japan. Apple reportedly gave Capcom a stern talking-to about Smurfberries last year and earlier this month a California woman filed suit against Facebook over its policies regarding the purchase of Facebook credits by underage gamers.