13-year old girl wipes out family savings making in-game purchases


Microtransactions are the new way that developers make money from their games and apps. This is versus one-off purchases like in the past, where developers had to rely on people buying their games, but nowadays, they can rely on what are known as “whales”, a small fraction of the player base who spend massive amounts of money in their games.

Unfortunately, it seems for a family over in Henan, China, their life savings might have been wiped out in the process. This is because the family’s 13-year old daughter found her mother’s debit card at home and stole it, using it to fund her in-app purchases which totaled to a whopping 449,500 yuan (~$64,000).

How this was discovered was when the girl’s teacher told her mother that she was worried that the girl was addicted to online pay-to-play games, and when her mother checked her bank balance, she found 0.5 yuan (~$0.07) left in their account, which was essentially the family’s savings.

The girl claimed that some of the money was used for her own account, and the rest was spent paying for in-game and game purchases for her classmates. She also claimed that she did not understand much about money or where it came from, and was also scared that approaching her teachers for help would get her in trouble with her parents.

It is unclear if the game developers will refund her the money or a portion of it, but this is yet another cautionary tale about mobile gaming and the predatory tactics that some developers use to entice kids to make in-game purchases.

Source: South China Morning Post

Tyler Lee
A graphic novelist wannabe. Amateur chef. Mechanical keyboard enthusiast. Writer of tech with over a decade of experience. Juggles between using a Mac and Windows PC, switches between iOS and Android, believes in the best of both worlds.

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