The problem with Microtransactions, and why we need to at least put in a spending ceiling

I know this has been done to death, but the following article really soured my day yesterday:

When you check how to pay for the golden rings, it is highly suspect to a level that isn’t even allowed in most Casinos. Here you first have to buy one currency to purchase a second one. Not only is this extremely predatory, it is not transparent and far from what any 6 year old child can comprehend.

On top of that Apple’s, The Bank and SEGA’s reaction to this is downright scummy, they rather make a mother live on the street during Christmas, than to take responsibility for their actions. Apple, who’s fanboys keep insisting that they shouldn’t open up their hardware to third party stores as: “They check every title, for quality! And so it isn’t fraudulent!”; yet they were more than happy to take 30% of this! Even going as far as “Well there is a setting you should have known about!”, when she brougth up her mortgage.

Of course in peak Apple their defense force is already defending this (read the comments :frowning: :

And SEGA was more than happy to take their 70%, in a game clearly designed for all ages. But of course with plenty of bells, whistles and other incentives to buy more… like a slot machine at a Casino.

Which begs the question: Shouldn’t these games be limited to a maximum. If a game is “for all ages”, then surely a max of 60 or even 100 Dollars for a free to play game should be enough. If we cannot even get to that point in agreement, then I believe we have failed as a society, and as gamers/gaming culture. As after all, there isn’t even a mention of this yet on OtherEra, and if there is? It is already buried in topics regarding PS5 games. If we can’t? Then we might as well let minors into actual casinos and gambling places, as at least then they have a chance to get some of their money back.

1 Like

Irresponsible parents giving free access to cards to children.


Not everybody is as digitally literate as you are. And she might have blocked a lot of websites and other things, just not spending (as she forgot). That STILL does not excuse why a game that is “E FOR EVERYONE!” allows you to spend 16000+ Freedom bucks! With all kinds of obfuscating methods, on top of visual and sound triggers to keep you playing (which are really effective on adults, let alone kids).

I mean, why not allow kids into gambling establishments then? At least more of a chance they’ll win some money back. Since you seem okay with this practice. I mean: First buy red rings, then you can use a strange divider of red coins to buy gold rings? AND THEN you can buy your favorite character? What is this Las Vegas?

If we as a community can’t do better, and excuse mega corporations like Apple, who claim they need that 30% to keep scammers of their store (wtf is this then!? How did this game get a child rating? of E!) and then do this?

Okay “9+” in very small letters, that still doesn’t excuse 16000 (between 5 and 8 monthly salaries (before tax! Not everybody is on Other ERA, where they make 100k a year! and consider themselves poor) on a lower budget)… with no other spendable limit! For goodness sake man, even Casinos have a limit!


Why is a child allowed access to a credit card to rack up 16K dollars in it? Where is the parental control and supervision from the actual parents?

Not everything is on publishers and game companies.

I would never have dared used a DIME without my parents permission much less have free access to a card without it being an emergency.


I think that’s more on the parent for not researching what child is buying before giving out credit card information.

I think best thing the can do what my regional lottery commission does and put a spending limit per month. I think there needs to be laws in how much a person can put into gambling and setting limits to protect them because I feel that is best way to control gambling addiction

It’s not on by default, and still you think it is perfectly normal that there is no limit on what you purchase? Do you really think that if you have a card, and go to a store, that no store owner would have found it strange that you could by the value of a Ford Fiesta in goods? Without a parent present?

That would get that store owner arrested for embezzlement. As kids are simply not of a valid age yet to make these kinds of purchases.

How do you consider it normal that one can spend that much on a game? Any game for that matter, in a store that goes “we want 30% as we make sure there are no scammers!”. When I don’t have to pay squat in F-droid and other open source alternatives?

Or are you just here to pat yourself on the back for a job well done and “When I was a kid, it was uphill in both directions with 10 feet of snow and searing heat in mid summer! Also ravenous wolves everywhere!”

It takes a town to raise a child, and currently we are failing at that (As a gaming community), as we find our tech gadgets and toys more important than well being of others.

But there is no limit on these things. That is the entire problem. Gambling has limits, as I mentioned before, yet Game Devs and Apple/Google are allowed to go “THAR SHE BLOWS!”. By default there should be a limit of say 60 a 100 bucks. Which you’d need permission or an admin account to undo. That is not that strange, and easy to implement. It should always be opt in, not opt out. (Opt in for spending without limits, not opt in for “do you wish protection!?”.).


Yeah, I think that’s the major issue of not having a cap for the amount a person can spend. I think it’s up to governments to implement this since we know not in publishers best interest to do that. Also I think on default should have lets say $200 is max you can spend in a month on microtransaction. Then if you feel you want to go over that limit then need to fill out a form, so you can either increase it or have no cap. That is probably best method for protecting gambling addiction to make person go through hoops to opt into it

Yeah, we really need the gaming commissions to step up on this. You cannot have Las Vegas have stricter rules than game publishers and Apple/Google. Gaming isn’t just electronic, as it clearly states in the name, and regulations need to apply. Especially for paid games that are E for everybody. This needs to be a shitload stricter.

Sorry that this is such a hot issue for me, I have relatives that really are easy to get into an addiction (gambling, substances… doesn’t matter, the pretty lights and packaging pulls them in). So it just irks me that they cannot even escape it in simple electronic games anymore. Not everybody is created the same, some of us are really easily influenced by these kinds of things.

And kids just… well has me fuming. A game like Sonic that is meant for 9 year olds, should have a limit of 50 max. Otherwise it simply is not ethical.


No problems at all, and we need government to step up and create some kind of gaming commission to regulate this industry. I think industry has grown to a point where every type of gaming is accessible to everybody and many games prey on the vulnerable. Also don’t get me started on mobile gaming like there’s a reason why mobile gaming is valuable because they exploit many on microtransactions, and if there was a way to create caps as default and opting in to remove or increase it then that would change many developers business model.

Would be interesting if they had to appeal to the gaming commission to remove cap on microtransactions. I don’t like having government too involved in things, but would be interesting if they declined removing cap due to them knowing information such as yearly income and other factors

Every single time this happens, that’s the first question that needs to be asked. Parental controls exist & at this point, people should know that & should have them turned on at all times.

& then of course the second question is; why is it even possible to spend $16,000 on some daft Sonic game?! Jesus wept. That is absurd.

1 Like

She likely had her card on it for her own purchases (whether she buys music, books, or apps), and didn’t realize that these games had MTX.

There’s a shared responsibility for sure. There are many steps she could have taken to avoid this. I do believe that you are prompted with child lock/payment protection options as you set up your device.

I also think credit card companies can do a much better job, as can Apple (for example, notifications for each purchase would be nice, I get them with PSN, Xbox, and Epic Store purchases).

But I think the point being made by @dehnus is that game devs/pubs allowing $16K purchases from one user is ridiculous, especially in a game that appeals to children. I realize that there are rich people out there willing to spend that much, but I’d argue that a game like Sonic caters to a different audience than Boom Beach so maybe they carry a different responsibility.

I personally wouldn’t think much of the developer’s responsibility if this was Phantasy Star, Crazy Taxi, or any IP that targets anyone over 13. But Sonic is as all ages as you can get. This monetization model in a game that is all ages brings up some ethics questions. I’m not going to say it’s right or wrong without more research, but it’s a fair question.

I have friends that have spent hundreds on Boom Beach, League of Legends, etc. and it’s still a good value for them because they got a lot of enjoyment & entertainment from those products. I have no problem with the model but it’s that all ages aspect that I think is worth debating. I also think spending caps are worth debating. If one of my friends spent $16,000 on LoL…I don’t care how good that game is, the cost per hour of gameplay is unreasonable. Unlock everything for the lifetime of the game if someone spends $10K or something.

Regardless of the mom’s responsibility or failures here, it’s worth discussing what devs/publishers should be doing in games that are inviting towards kids.


Well the wait is until Casinos (like on Native land or otherwise), demand the same loose regulations or that electronic gaming is regulated to their rules. It’s ludicrous what companies in the mobile sphere have been allowed to get away with, and I’m glad that Nintendo is taking a step back from it again. I mean Activision/Blizzard and EA take it far, but it is a Wild West on mobile. Everything goes, including going after the vulnerable.

It is like selling alcohol to minors or taking school field trips to Las Vegas’s strip.

This is exactly my point. We’re not talking about a poker game here, or a Casino game. This is a game that has cartoon shows on TV. It is a completely different ball game, and what irks me as well is that Apple acts like they are very “moral”, due to their app store keeping out scammers, but allows a child’s game to basically have no spending limit. Not even in a casino do you have that, the limit has to be raised with permission and depends on the game/table that you are playing.

Then the federal gaming commission simply has to step in and swat Apple, Sega, Google, Activision, etc on the nose with a VERY hefty fine. If a game is for 18 and under, and doesn’t have a spending limit… then it’s time for it to be treated as a casino gaming.

As otherwise we might as well release our toddlers into Reno Nevada, give em 100 bucks and tell em to “go have fun!”. More chance they come back with a tidy profit then. :wink:

1 Like

There will be no spending caps when so many people are happy to spend so much money.

1 Like

If you’re a parent, talk to your kids about this, and talk to your other parent friends about it too. It’s shocking how little some parents know about video games and what kind of pitfalls their kids can run into. I actually gave a talk at my kids’ school on this subject.

Talk to a 6 year old and under about the value of money? Indeed, they will totally understand that. Rather than implement a rule that games for that market should have a spending limit. Let’s talk with our kids instead. Like that one person with down syndrome or a genetic disability. I’m sure they understand all of it.

I’m being sarcastic if you couldn’t tell.

Seriously WTF does a kids game allow you to spend that much, while Apple is claiming they are the “moral company!” with their store!

Heck if we are to teach our children, I am certain my plan for a Reno preschool trip, will teach a lot more toddlers the value of money! Everybody 100 bucks, and “GO HAVE FUN!”.

It’s good that you gave a talk on your kids school about this though :slight_smile: . Thank you for that. (Not sarcastic). but the problem lies with SEGA, Apple, Activision, Google, etc. No game aimed at kids should allow you to spend THAT much.

Damn dude, I’m on your side on this. :slight_smile: Ease up a little.

Regulation should happen, yes, and the publishers and platform owners should be accountable. But until that happens, parents and kids need to know how to protect themselves. So many parents see headlines about sex predators on Fortnite or whatever and they think that’s the only danger online. They don’t even realize it’s possible for their kid to use their credit card online and that games are actively encouraging them to do so.

The rules aren’t changing anytime soon and knowledge is parents’ and kids’ best defense in the meantime.

Yeah, sorry, like said it’s a hot topic for me due to having experienced addicted behavior with my own relatives. For me it feels really scummy what game publishers are doing, to a point where I can be a bit aggressive. Sorry for that.

And like said, it is good that you talk about this with the school, I really wasn’t being sarcastic there. I just was really raging that Apple (Whom always claim that their Store is so high in curation quality and thus kid friendly -or their fanboys do at least- for that 30% cut), SEGA (For real SEGA!?, 16000+!??!) and banks/government involved.

If MS ever buys SEGA, It’s time for Phil to go complete domination on the guy responsible for that shit: Complete Domination

Sorry for that last joke. I do take this shit very serious.

1 Like