Someone in RuneScape spent $62K on microtrans according to UK Parliament report

    
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Old and busted.

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.

Source: Kotaku
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Mewmew

Sure Parents of this adult baby, keep bailing him out to let him do it again while blaming the game. You’ve got a great scapegoat there, it’s not his fault, it’s these games that are doing it.

Maybe let him sit in the mess he made for himself? You’ve paid this off twice, increasing his credit and making it look like he can handle running this amount up and paying it off. Think he won’t do it again? He’s never been made to learn his lesson.

It’s funny when they pick on some game, it’s quite often a game or company that doesn’t even have predatory monetization in general. And no I don’t raise any eyebrows because people spend thousands a week on certain mobile games, more than the limit that Runescape stops you from spending.

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Bruno Brito

Just leaving this here.

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Arktouros

Pretty sure if you put a microphone really close to Jim’s mouth and just listened to him breathing you would hear the words “loot boxes” on each inhale and “greed” on each exhale.

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BalsBigBrother

Just some notes and thoughts:

The person referenced is from a written anonymous source so no independent verification of the facts seem possible.

Taken at face value this adult son is apparently just under 25 years old, works from home and ran up a debt of £50,000 with Runescape. His parents bailed him out using retirement money. He later ran up debts again and went back to his parents again asking for financial help (no amounts disclosed) so “we again used up all our savings”

Some thoughts from myself.

So why didn’t the parents insist that he seek help after he ran up the initial debt. They knew he had an issue as they note “has been addicted to a game called Runescape for years.”

If it was me and I was in a position to help someone with that sort of debt I would insist that was part of the deal whether they are family or not. Indeed I have helped folks out for much much less but still pointed them towards professional advice so they are better equipped against running into similar issues in the future.

There is a lot going on here and while I think Jagex do have a responsibility and could have limited spending they also are not the only factor here, at least in my opinion.

I do think gambling laws should be up dated to reflect the reality today (in the UK at least I can’t really speak for anywhere else) and the gaming industry should give better consumer protection in a lot of cases.

However I also think that this isn’t the solution and is really only treating the symptoms while the addiction or addictive behaviour seems to be ignored.

I don’t think someone with an addictive nature is not going to get better without help and I don’t think its something that will just go away either. I would imagine if you remove a persons outlet for it (in this case gaming) they will just look for another source and continue as before.

So additionally I would also like to see efforts aimed at making support and professional help more easily accessible to people so that they can get to the root causes of their problems.

One without the other just seems to be a waste of time to me. Sorry for the ramble

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Armsbend

Children can be quite persuasive when you have overwhelming love for them and a past alternative might have been worse than a video game addiction.

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BalsBigBrother

I won’t comment on the nature of love for a child but I would say that I would want to give my child more than a short term security blanket and I would try to help them not make the same mistakes again.

Just isolating someone from the consequences of their actions in never going to be a long term solution. This was quite well demonstrated here as this person got into difficulty again and I imagine will continue to do so until he gets some sort of professional help.

Whether he wants that help or not is another matter and that is something we can only speculate on with the information we have.

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Robert Mann

Sadly, this is exactly what companies are looking for.

Worse, there exists no shortage of people who will spend what little they have without thought.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

.

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Jim Bergevin Jr

Well, I guess the gaming community has found it’s Moby-Dick.

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Arktouros

After games like Star Citizen where you have stories of people mortgaging homes to buy internet spaceships my eyebrows remain in their firm and fixed scowl position.

The world is full of companies who are eager to take as much money as you’re willing to give them. Pretending that video games are anyhow inherently worse when the backbone of our consumerism is based on the word “upsell” is peculiarly specific.

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Bruno Brito

They aren’t, but saying that “everyone does the same” as some kind of apologetics doesn’t help anyone.

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Arktouros

I don’t apologize for business practices at all. What I am questioning, as I often do during these discussions, is where is the consistency of these arguments?

In essence people need to get over the idea that video games are not businesses looking to make money, yes even “all” the money. Like any business there is going to be a luxury component to that industry as well. We don’t scream “GREEDY” at car dealers selling luxury vehicles why would we do so at game companies selling their luxury digital goods? That game didn’t design that fancy $40 mount with the idea of accessibility in mind.

If you take this scenario and apply it to any other industry out there it just looks and seems peculiar and oddly specific.