Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Pay-to-win lawsuits

In Earth Online:

Apple is facing a $100m bill to compensate millions of parents whose offspring inadvertently used iPhones and iPads to rack up large bills of their own. The technology giant agreed to the payout after five sets of parents said that their children had bought too many “virtual goods” whilst they were playing with apps on the Apple devices. [source]

I don't want to discuss why Apple should be paying this bill when they didn't benefit from the sale of "virtual goods" (the app providers got that benefit). Nor do I want to point the finger at parents who let their kids use their iPhones, when they know that those iPhones have the equivalent of their credit card details on them, in an easy to use form. Nor do I want to get into an  argument over parents' responsibility for the behaviour of their offspring. What I want to mention is the possible consequences for pay-to-win games.

The games that were the subject of these lawsuits were RMT games. The issue for the parents was that they were advertised as free-to-play games, and the parents downloaded them (or sanctioned it) on that basis. The kids then bought virtual goods and got the benefit of them. They continue to have the benefit of these goods (I don't believe they're sending them to Apple or removing them from the accounts of the kids), but their parents are now getting a refund. This has to be the way forward for every cute hoor that ever played a game for free: buy the One Ring or the Sparkly Pony or the PLEX or the gold ammo, enjoy it, then claim that it was your kid that bought it, and demand your money back. But don't demand your money back directly from the seller of the virtual goods (or they might take back the goods). Instead demand it back from some third party intermediary, such as PayPal or Visa or MasterCard, or even the providers of your download software such as Microsoft or Google. People who can be arm-twisted into stumping up, but can't take back the goods.

Expect more such lawsuits.

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