The children of the British Thomas Carter wanted to have their favorite player Lionel Messi for EA’s football simulation FIFA 19. They plundered their father’s account and spent over 600 euros.
The two under-teens love to play FIFA 19 on the Nintendo Switch, even online against other players. As a small gift, Thomas Carter bought his children a pack of cards containing random players to improve their team. The two shots didn’t go upside down because once seeing the purchase process was enough for them to understand how to buy card packs and they took their chance to get Lionel Messi, thankfully.
The children’s shopping tour cost just under 610 euros and only caught the father’s eye when he was refused the card when shopping because the account was overdrawn. But Carter quickly realized that part of the blame lay with him. The children did not play on a separate account, but on the family account and the online payment process was not even secured with a PIN. Also, the confirmation e-mails were sent to a barely used address with a full mailbox.
Carter told the BBC that his children had been very remorseful, but did not understand the implications of their actions. Lionel Messi did not get them despite expenses of 610 euros, by the way. Even if they had, they would have had to give it back again, because luckily Thomas Carter reimbursed Nintendo for the money and removed the player cards from the account again. He first took the console out of reach of the children.
However, Carter also sees a problem with the game itself. For him, selling card packs is something unethical, as he paid 40 British pounds for the game and still has to spend money on a good team for a game of chance, which brings us back to the Lootbox debate and the story of Thomas Carter and his kids lining up behind many children and adults who also spent huge sums on Lootboxes in video games. So again we have players who feel betrayed and exploited but still spend a lot of money on lootboxes every year.
The politics that stands between angry parents and citizens, their own laws on gambling and the economic power of the video game industry and the industry itself that has to balance a (for them well working) monetization opportunity against the growing anger of the gaming community.