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Web based games investigated

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  • WW4BWWW4BW KoldingPosts: 493Member
    Originally posted by Quizzical
    Originally posted by Horusra
    Originally posted by Quizzical
    Originally posted by Horusra
    Originally posted by Quizzical

     

    If you're told up front that it costs $1, and buried far in the EULA is a brief, ambiguous mention that anyone with access to your computer could make whatever additional charges they want, do you really expect people to be responsible for reading the pages of legalese before making what they where told was a $1 expenditure?  Do you really want a world in which we have to carry magnifying glasses around and inspect price tags very carefully because there could be a microscopic line somewhere that says that by buying this product, you authorize a charge for 10 times the listed price later?  At some point, you have to say, if a reasonable person would believe that when making the payment that it was going to be this price and no more, then the company can't find creative excuses to charge more than that.

    Now, if you're told that it costs $1 and authorize it, and told that something else costs $1 and authorize it, and do that 100 times over the course of a month and don't realize it until the bill arrives because you can't count to 100, then yes, you should be liable for that.

     Not really how it works. It is the settings of the Appstore that allow for a one time authorization to be extended indefinatly by buying more stuff. Combined with the fact that the games have cheap stuff as well as rediculously expensive stuff. And that they are specificly made for kids to bypass the common sense filter of adults.

    Its not adults that are playing Smurf Village, and if there are any adults that do, Im sure they keep careful track of what they spend. Little kids dont.

    I dont have a specific problem with MMOs or the like having an ingame shop in principle.. Aside from any game breaking stuff. But I do have a problem with cute little games that are specifically made to take candy from babies. 

     

  • HorusraHorusra maryland, MDPosts: 2,583Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Arakazi
    Originally posted by Horusra
    Originally posted by Arakazi

    The way people talk about the companies that sell these games and the consumer reminds me a little bit of the relationship between a drug dealer and the addict. Although that's a rather clumsy and extreme comparison, I feel it fits in some extreme cases. There are people out there, for what ever reason, cannot seem to play games in moderation and accrue debts and destroy their own life.

    I would be reluctant to place the blame on the companies. If they make it clear what their charges and the charges are fair I think the responsibility lays on the individual themselves to control their spending and the time they are investing on games. So long as companies and developers are upfront, there is no moral hazard.

    In saying that, agencies like the OFT would be remiss in their duty to protect the consumer if they didn't investigate companies that were actively exploiting children and weak minded or ignorant individuals that play these games and spend too much money on them. Like it or not, there are people that cannot deal with life very well and kids do stupid things despite whatever warnings a parent will give them. Therefore it's up to the wider society to protect them, even though it goes against my beliefs that an individual should look after themselves and pay the price for their own choices.

    But should be OFT go after the company, the facilitator, or just make the issue public.  Does a specific complicated law really have to be made?

    I don't like making laws in cases like this, that will only benefit lawyers. I think they should make the public aware of what can happen and educate children and try and encourage good practice. I believe that any bad practice can be tackled using existing laws without harming companies that are being responsible.

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  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    The problem with relying on bad publicity is that small, obscure companies with no reputation to defend aren't much affected by bad publicity.  Does every single scam e-mail constitute front-page news?
  • HorusraHorusra maryland, MDPosts: 2,583Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Quizzical
    The problem with relying on bad publicity is that small, obscure companies with no reputation to defend aren't much affected by bad publicity.  Does every single scam e-mail constitute front-page news?

    But they constitute a specific law?

  • WW4BWWW4BW KoldingPosts: 493Member
    Originally posted by Arakazi
    Originally posted by Horusra
    Originally posted by Arakazi

     

    But should be OFT go after the company, the facilitator, or just make the issue public.  Does a specific complicated law really have to be made?

    I don't like making laws in cases like this, that will only benefit lawyers. I think they should make the public aware of what can happen and educate children and try and encourage good practice. I believe that any bad practice can be tackled using existing laws without harming companies that are being responsible.

     A new law probably isnt necessarry in most cases. If asking for better business practices doesnt work, they might try a test case in court. If indeed any current laws are being broken.

    If however there is a gap in the laws, then perhaps new legislation is in order. 

    But I think that there are laws that specifically cover this and prohibit the combination of the way the payment model is implemented and aiming the game at children... ofcourse that might not be the case in every country. But it is in mine.. And our own consumer protection agency is in a similar process of clearing this business practice up.

    Specifically they are after Apple to open up a local customer service branch for easier complaints in the customers native language and time zone. Also they are asking Apple to change their default settings, so customers can make an informed choice.

    I dont have any particulars on them going after the producers of the games.

  • WW4BWWW4BW KoldingPosts: 493Member
    Originally posted by Horusra
    Originally posted by Quizzical
    The problem with relying on bad publicity is that small, obscure companies with no reputation to defend aren't much affected by bad publicity.  Does every single scam e-mail constitute front-page news?

    But they constitute a specific law?

     

    Mail and wire fraud...

     

  • HorusraHorusra maryland, MDPosts: 2,583Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by WW4BW
    Originally posted by Horusra
    Originally posted by Quizzical
    The problem with relying on bad publicity is that small, obscure companies with no reputation to defend aren't much affected by bad publicity.  Does every single scam e-mail constitute front-page news?

    But they constitute a specific law?

     

    Mail and wire fraud...

     

    Those laws already exists no need for new ones specific to one instance.

  • WW4BWWW4BW KoldingPosts: 493Member
    Originally posted by Horusra
    Originally posted by WW4BW
    Originally posted by Horusra
    Originally posted by Quizzical
    The problem with relying on bad publicity is that small, obscure companies with no reputation to defend aren't much affected by bad publicity.  Does every single scam e-mail constitute front-page news?

    But they constitute a specific law?

     Mail and wire fraud...

     

    Those laws already exists no need for new ones specific to one instance.

     Then I mistook your meaning.

     But like I said in my previous post, I dont think new laws are necessarry in this case. I am pretty sure it is covered by existing laws.

     But if it isnt, then perhaps it would make sense to regulate how you could structure a payment plan for a game for children. Or in the least make some rules for the service platforms.

     I am not that concerned about the adults or teens playing games with in-app payment.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon

    There is a need for laws against fraud.  And there are laws against fraud.  As I read it, it sounds like the story is that some agency is trying to enforce such laws.

    Sometimes there are loopholes that allow something to be done that should be banned.  Sometimes innocuous things are banned for no good reason.  In either situation, it can be appropriate to modify the relevant laws.  But that likely isn't the issue here.

    -----

    The underlying problem in many situations is that a lot of people simply can't handle money properly.  Economists say that human wants are infinite.  While that is ridiculous on its face, for many people, it's a pretty good approximation.  Some people will spend all that they get as fast as they can get it, and they'll always have financial difficulties.  Get a raise to make $100k per year and soon they'll discover that they want to spend $120k.  Make $1 million per year and soon they'll want to spend $1.2 million.

    But fraud laws can't protect people against their own stupidity.  Fraud laws are only for situations where you get charged an amount that you never agreed to spend, or paid for an item that you didn't receive, or things of that sort.

    I see no need for laws to say that games can't try to get kids to convince their parents to buy them something.  Mature adults (which one hopes that the parents are by the time they have children) know how to say "no".  But if kids can spend the parents' money without their parents' consent--and kids not having the parents' credit card number or password isn't adequate defense against this--then there's a problem.  And if kids don't even realize that it's spending real-life money, then there's a big problem.

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,672Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by WW4BW

    What they are investigating, is the fact that some of the most popular free apps are infact purpose built to trick parents into letting their children pay massive amounts for boost ingame.

    The standard setting on Itunes is to require a password to open for transactions for 15 minutess (+15 minutes every time you buy.)

    So if parents enter their password once to allow for a 1$ transaction it is now open for unlimited use, as long as they buy more than once every 15 minutes. 

    Some of what they can buy is priced so outrageously and it can be dificult for children to destiguish the game from the shop.

    On top of that Apple makes it very hard to find a customer support number to call to get a refund.. and they make damn sure to tell you that its extraordinary that you do get a refund.

    Having games that allow you to spend thousands on micro transactions within minutes or hours, aimed at children is disgusting.

    All that being said.. if you have an Ipad and you let your children use it. Make sure to change the Appstore settings to immediate and not 15 mins. That way you have to enter your password for every transaction. 

    That's pretty much the issue in a nutshell. The app shops and the developers need to regulate it and create some kind of safeguard or governments are going to get involved. The other solution is for parents to be more watchful and not use their damn iPad as a babysitter, but i realize that's too much to ask of a lot of parents these days, so I'm hoping the industry steps in before government does.

     

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • HelleriHelleri Felton, CAPosts: 927Member Uncommon

    Government seems to be a buzzword on this thread....I know that the federal government of the United States (my country) tends to only establish law and enforcement of law for business practices, where the business is so big that it effects the common good. Agencies like the ATF insure that there is less un-safe misconduct in the manufacter and distribution of controlled substances and items. the FDA insures that what I choose to put in my body that is not a controlled substance (but, also sometimes is) is relatively safe to do so with. And, the BBB makes sure that places I would do business with meet health, and honesty in advertising and disclosure standards.

     

    Granted most of the actions of such agencies are simply done with funding and not actual federal mandate, therein their actual powers are limited as is their effectivness. But even so...someone was put in charge (or took initiative to put themselves in charge) of over seeing safe and fair practice in many aspects of my life. And, if it were not for agencies like those coca-cola would still have high alchohol content and trace amounts of cocaine *shrugs*.

     

    When I go to an MMO's website that allows me to make an account from this country (the USA) and my state...where is the ESRB rating, and the BBB A+ grading on their website? I see junk like various video game awards down at the bottom but those only inform me that it may be fun and says nothing about it's actual content and business practice. Everytime I spend money in an MMO it is a gamble. a Gamble I elect for but look at what happened to Aika online... Banished to a small corner of the internet and I didn't even recieve the supposed account transfer email...Where is my $400.00 that was supposed to garuntee my continued entertainment? Where is my refund for services not rendered? Poof in the aether that's where. You can't rely on the industry to regulate itself. Unchecked it will do whatever it wishes. And, do so with your money.

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  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Helleri

    And, the BBB makes sure that places I would do business with meet health, and honesty in advertising and disclosure standards.

    The Better Business Bureau is not a government agency.

  • HelleriHelleri Felton, CAPosts: 927Member Uncommon
    I did not say that it was. And I even pointed out that many agencies that regulate things have no federal mandate and that some are self appointed to what they regulate.

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  • VengeSunsoarVengeSunsoar Posts: 5,316Member Uncommon
    And the FDA doesn't make sure that products are safe or that the advertising is true.  A product can be put out with all sorts of claims and be very unsafe, the FDA will only investigate if a complaint is put forward.

    Quit worrying about other players in a game and just play.

  • waynejr2waynejr2 West Toluca Lake, CAPosts: 4,479Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Quizzical
    Don't be too eager for bureaucrats to meddle in the details of games that they don't understand.  All costs of doing business are inevitably passed on to consumers one way or another.  Clear anti-fraud laws are one thing, but if a game developer could easily face crippling sanctions on a whim due to some bureaucrat's subjective notion of what is fair, a lot of cool games that would have otherwise been created won't be.

     /this.

    Anti-fraud should be covered in anti-fraud laws.  We shouldn't need extra laws to cover it.

    The FED for several years has had people curious over taxation and properties rights in games.  Lucky for us nothing has come of it. 

    There is the video games cause violence crowd who have been slowly gaining traction.  If they repeat the same lies over and over again people eventually believe it. 

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