Microtransactions can be a dangerous thing. Three years ago, at the height of its popularity, there were numerous reports of people getting themselves into financial difficulties after they spent thousands of dollars buying lives for Candy Crush Saga. And while overspending on in-game purchases may not be quite as widespread today, it still happens, as a Canadian man found out after his son spent almost $8,000 on microtransactions.
Lance Perkins from Pembroke, Ontario, had given his son a credit card for emergencies or to make purchases for the family's convenience store. But when the latest bill arrived, Perkins was shocked to find $7,625 in charges from Xbox Live. These charges had been accumulated over the course of one month, all generated through microtransaction made in one of the FIFA games.
“It floored me. Literally floored me, when I'd seen what I was being charged,” Perkins said. He alleges that while his son admitted he used the card illicitly, the 17-year-old had no idea he was racking up charges.
“He thought it was a one-time fee for the game,” Perkins said, adding that his son was also shocked by how much he had spent. “He’s just as sick as I am, [because] he never believed he was being charged for every transaction, or every time he went onto the game.”
Perkins contacted the credit card company, who told him that the only way they could do anything was if he charged his son with fraud. He then contacted Xbox and argued that his son is a minor. The company is looking into the matter, but the bill stands for now. “Until I actually hear from them, it's actually very discouraging,” he said.
Players can purchase FIFA points within the soccer game that range from $0.89 up to $99.99. The console does, however, features built-in parental controls that prevent unauthorized purchases.
Considering the number of verification and confirmation screens that most games make users go through before a purchase can be made, it is difficult to believe that the son had no idea he was making multiple transactions.
Internet forum users have also expressed doubt over the legitimacy of the claims. “Lol, he thought it was a one-time charge? Oh, even though you have to fund your wallet amount and it asks you to confirm multiple times,” one Redditor wrote.
Microsoft issued the following statement in response to the incident: “Purchases made using a parent’s payment account are legitimate transactions under the Microsoft Services Agreement, and we encourage parents to use the many platform and service features we make available to prevent unapproved charges.”
Perkins has vowed that this won't be a problem again. "There will never be another Xbox system -- or any gaming system -- in my home,” he said.