Remember last year when we polled our readers on how much money they’d spent on their Steam accounts? Most people seemed to track under a few thousand dollars, which really isn’t that much given that it represents in some cases hundreds of games.
This is why I’m guessing your eyebrows will hit the ceiling over this bit of news via Kotaku, which poked its nose into RuneScape following a UK Parliament committee report earlier this month, which focused on immersive and addictive technologies, including video games monetization. The report mentions a British family’s “adult son” who spent “in excess of £50,000 [$62,000]” in MMORPG RuneScape (which is run by Jagex, located in the UK). That just one game. Yikes? According to Jagex, a third of its revenue comes from microtransactions. Here’s the relevant bit on Jagex from the MPs’ report:
“Jagex told us that it generates about one-third of its revenue from microtransactions, with two-thirds coming from an alternative subscription model. The company’s director of player experience Kelvin Plomer told us that players ‘can potentially spend up to £1,000 a week or £5,000 a month’ in RuneScape, but that only one player had hit that limit in the previous 12 months. The company’s reasoning for setting this limit seemed to stem from fraud prevention, rather than out of a duty of care to prevent people spending more than they are able. Jagex does allow players to ‘request deletion of the account or suspension of the account or a payment block’; however, crucially in the case of the parent who contacted us, for data protection reasons it can deal only with account holders and so was unable to take direct action in response to the parent’s concerns.”
According to Kotaku and its interviewees, the revelation and subsequent promotions from Jagex have made it “clear that the Parliament’s statements and recent actions sent a shockwave through the community.” But that $62K should probably be the real life lesson.