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'The kids emptied our bank account playing Fifa'

Thankfully my 'kids' are older , but blooming heck.

Four children spent nearly £550 in three weeks buying player packs to play the Fifa football video game online on the family's Nintendo Switch console.

In Fifa, special players can be bought in packs, but the contents are only revealed after payment is completed.

The children's father, Thomas Carter, had bought them a single pack for around £8, and had not realised they had seen how he made the purchase.

The Switch has now been confiscated "indefinitely", Mr Carter said.

Nintendo has agreed to a full refund and has removed the purchased players.

While Fifa is published and sold by Electronic Arts, the payments had been made via the family's Nintendo account.

Nintendo did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr Carter, from Hampshire, admits that he did not take full precautions to limit access to his Nintendo account: he did not use a unique Pin number and the emailed receipts were sent to an old email address with a full inbox.

"I just never thought [the children] would do it," he said.

Nintendo bank detailsImage copyrightTHOMAS CARTER
Image captionMr Carter's bank statement

He and his wife only realised what had happened when their card was declined elsewhere because their bank account was empty.

Fifa 19 has been certified as suitable for players from the age of three.

Mr Carter said his children, who are all under the age of 10, felt very remorseful and had not understood the impact of what they were doing.

However, he also said he felt that the in-game concept of buying player packs without knowing what was inside them was unethical.

"You pay £40 for the game, which is a lot of money in itself, but then the only way to get a great team is essentially by gambling," he said, referring to online play.

"They spent £550 and they still never got their favourite player, Lionel Messi."

Lionel MessiImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionLionel Messi was not among the family's purchases

Video games publisher EA, which owns Fifa, declined to comment but provided a link to its guidelines on controlling in-game purchases - this varies depending on the platform or console being used.

Presentational grey line

How to activate spending controls

Some devices are more complicated than others, here's a quick (and not exhaustive) guide:

  • On the Xbox One: select the Xbox symbol button on the controller. Go to the Systems menu, then follow the pathway settings/account/sign-in, security and passkey. Select "change my sign-in", scroll right to "customise" then "ask for my passkey to make purchases".
  • On the Nintendo Switch: log-in using the parental account, click "family group" and select each family member's log-in that you wish to restrict. Click "restrict spending in Nintendo e-shop" to disable purchasing and hit save.
  • On an iPhone or iPad: activate Screen Time on the device. You will need to set up a separate parent passcode. Then go to Content and Privacy Restrictions, activate "content and privacy", go to iTunes and App Store Purchases and set to "don't allow".
  • On the PS4: you must set up a separate account for your child. The monthly spending limit is automatically set at zero. Sony says it will not refund purchases made from adult accounts.

In 2018 the games news website Eurogamer published an interview with an adult Fifa player who discovered he had spent $10,000 (£8,000) in two years,after he issued EA with a Freedom of Information request.

He told the site it was "just not worth it".

footballer in stadiumImage copyrightEA

A new report issued by the organisation Internet Matters found that 26% of the 2,000 parents of four to 16-year-olds it spoke to were concerned about the amount of money their children were spending on in-game purchases.

Chief executive Carolyn Bunting said it is important for parents to remember to shield their games account passwords or Pin numbers, and also to have regular discussions with children about what is free in games and what costs money.

"I'm sure most children won't want to be in a position where they have spent their own parents' money on upgrades or in this case, new players on Fifa," she said.

Loot box controversy

Last year Belgium banned the sale of video game loot boxes - special characters or rewards which can either be purchased or acquired through game play hours, but cannot be previewed in advance.

In June, Kerry Hopkins, the vice president of EA games, told British MPs that the boxes were "quite ethical and fun", comparing them with Kinder Eggs, Hatchimals and LOL Surprise.

"We do think the way that we have implemented these kinds of mechanics - and Fifa of course is our big one, our Fifa Ultimate Team and our packs - is actually quite ethical and quite fun, quite enjoyable to people," she said.

Prof Andrew Przybylski, director of research at the Oxford Internet Institute, said more data was needed in order to assess the impact of loot box-style purchases.

"Loot boxes and in-app purchases present parents with a new frontier of challenges," he told the BBC.

"Though loot boxes look like gambling, we won't know what their effects are until these companies start sharing their data with independent scientists.

"There isn't good evidence it is gambling, but the very fact we don't have hard data should be a concern."



https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-48908766
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Comments

  • This story emanates from about 15 years ago ... I used to work with someone, who provided her teenage daughters with mobile phones. This was long before the unlimited texts and calls packages. Anyway, the first bill hits the door mat. Pretty close to £1000, it was. What the girls had been doing every day to and from school was sitting next to each other at the bus stop texting each other. 100’s and 100’s of times each day for a whole month. Needless to say it didn’t happen again. Kids, eh 
  • My son though a few months ago took my phone off me when I was playing a game on my phone and started randomly pressing the screen - Sat there watching him know he couldnt buy anything yet thought to myself: "Would be funny if he did make a purchase"

    Took the phone back off him only to look at my screen and see that a Payment of £50 had just been made which turned the event less funny really quick - Thankfully got on the phone to Google and of course changed my settings so that any payments could only be made with my password... lesson very quickly learnt!!

    Microtransactions really need to be removed from Gaming though

    Especially with games like FIFA where you could argue its a form of gambling!!
  • Microtransactions need managing and soon, people are releasing half complete games and then getting people to download the dlc to 'expand' the experience. 

    It's a piss take and an unfair one on consumers. Look at Fallout 76, Final Fantasy XV, Elder Scrolls games & Dragon Age.

    Even the Devs on the Witcher games felt that any future DLC for games should be free. Unfortunately the DLC was still charged.


  • It is definitely unethical. The star players could be unlocked via chance and reward for good performances. It isn't as if they give FIFA away. It is definitely a form of gambling and young people are the target audience of FIFA. I appreciate it is a great game, but you also have to look at FIFA itself putting its name to the game without setting any associated standards.
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  • ricky_otto said:
     His punishment was a Charlton a season ticket.


    What, you made him have one.
    Thats a bit extreme!!  :)
  • T_C_E said:
    ricky_otto said:
     His punishment was a Charlton a season ticket.


    What, you made him have one.
    Thats a bit extreme!!  :)
    Guess it saves on the mental examinations if a child was to actually ask for a Charlton season ticket :)
  • Dazzler21 said:
    Microtransactions need managing and soon, people are releasing half complete games and then getting people to download the dlc to 'expand' the experience. 

    It's a piss take and an unfair one on consumers. Look at Fallout 76, Final Fantasy XV, Elder Scrolls games & Dragon Age.

    Even the Devs on the Witcher games felt that any future DLC for games should be free. Unfortunately the DLC was still charged.


    I agree with everything you've posted here.  (Apart from the bits where I haven't a clue what you're talking about. Which is nearly all of it). 
  • edited July 9
    Got none of this in the good old days of snake on a Nokia
  • Its too easy for this to happen, one of my younger brothers did this to my dad before (old enough to know he was getting charged) ended up costing my dad £250 and this is a lot of money to him which he couldn't really afford.

    My nephew did the same to my sister, she realised early and was only £10 or £20 but she did explain not to do it again and he was only 6 so probably doesn't have the same concept of money someone slightly older does, equally young children on ipads with constant advertisement or buy this on every game.

    I've never bought a fifa pack in my life, for me its cheating (not properly) but just a hack to get better players in ultimate team and build your team quicker than someone else. Part of the enjoyment should be building the team from scratch not spending a penny.

  • Computer game developers need to stop putting content that should be available at release behind a paywall to be unlocked sometimes even a month after release. 
  • Microtransactions aren't as damaging as things like this - contrary to what the EA spokesperson says, loot boxes are definately gambling and shouldn't be allowed.
  • _MrDick said:
    This story emanates from about 15 years ago ... I used to work with someone, who provided her teenage daughters with mobile phones. This was long before the unlimited texts and calls packages. Anyway, the first bill hits the door mat. Pretty close to £1000, it was. What the girls had been doing every day to and from school was sitting next to each other at the bus stop texting each other. 100’s and 100’s of times each day for a whole month. Needless to say it didn’t happen again. Kids, eh 
    I had a job, about 20 years ago, where I monitored new mobile phone accounts.  This is before PAYG was common.  Once they had reached £100 inside the first month we phoned them, checked that they knew how much they had spent and see if we needed to take a pre payment.

    The number of 18 year old girls, it was almost always girls, who had got phone contracts for about £25 a month, then run up a £100 bill in days, couldn't pay it so we're put on incoming calls only for the reat of the contract as they paid it off was shocking.   For about a weeks worth of use that phone had cost them nearly £500.  That's in 1990s money. 

  • Dazzler21 said:
    Computer game developers need to stop putting content that should be available at release behind a paywall to be unlocked sometimes even a month after release. 
    It annoys me enough that a lot of devs half make games and expect modders to fix them (Hi TotalWar series) these microtransactions really take the piss, I miss the days of Ultima Online when gear meant nothing and skill was everything.
  • Dazzler21 said:
    Computer game developers need to stop putting content that should be available at release behind a paywall to be unlocked sometimes even a month after release. 
    It annoys me enough that a lot of devs half make games and expect modders to fix them (Hi TotalWar series) these microtransactions really take the piss, I miss the days of Ultima Online when gear meant nothing and skill was everything.
    I play swgoh obsessively, I spent £20 once a few years ago.  Once you accept its pay to win its much less stressful.  One of the developers said to have everything straight away they would expect you to pay around 5k a year! 
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  • Cafc43v3r said:
    Dazzler21 said:
    Computer game developers need to stop putting content that should be available at release behind a paywall to be unlocked sometimes even a month after release. 
    It annoys me enough that a lot of devs half make games and expect modders to fix them (Hi TotalWar series) these microtransactions really take the piss, I miss the days of Ultima Online when gear meant nothing and skill was everything.
    I play swgoh obsessively, I spent £20 once a few years ago.  Once you accept its pay to win its much less stressful.  One of the developers said to have everything straight away they would expect you to pay around 5k a year! 
    Then I'm glad my hardcore gaming days are over, I was obsessive about UO PvP and later was part of a top 150 world raiding guild on WoW, back in those days as top players we were able to MAKE money from gaming, not have to pump cash into it.
  • Croydon said:
    Got none of this in the good old days of snake on a Nokia
    Or mini munchman 
  • Just as there's no off position on the genius switch
    There's no think position on the idiot switch
    Kids under 10 with more smarts than their parents at least, but inheriting those genes is starting life with an anvil strapped to your leg
    FFS those parents have the vote... :(
  • edited July 9
    I have made sure this doesn't happen in my household.
    I've emptied the bank account myself.
    Microtransactions down the pub. It’s awful, they let you in for nothing, but then expect to pay to play. It like a half-finished experience, with all the good bits hidden behind a paywall. Next thing you know your bank account is empty.  
  • I loved FIFA 19.

    Probably my personal favourite FIFA.... for a few reasons.

    (My FIFA 19 story deserves its own thread)

    What I will say is....the whole player pack thing ..."ultimate team" it is such a load of bollocks.

    Complete rip off ...  So pointless and unnecessary.

    I think that whole side of it...is a big no no
  • Dave2l said:
    I loved FIFA 19.

    Probably my personal favourite FIFA.... for a few reasons.

    (My FIFA 19 story deserves its own thread)

    What I will say is....the whole player pack thing ..."ultimate team" it is such a load of bollocks.

    Complete rip off ...  So pointless and unnecessary.

    I think that whole side of it...is a big no no
    I want this story now.
  • Dazzler21 said:
    Microtransactions need managing and soon, people are releasing half complete games and then getting people to download the dlc to 'expand' the experience. 

    It's a piss take and an unfair one on consumers. Look at Fallout 76, Final Fantasy XV, Elder Scrolls games & Dragon Age.

    Even the Devs on the Witcher games felt that any future DLC for games should be free. Unfortunately the DLC was still charged.


    Exactly, consumers are basically second stage beta testers now. For a while Ubisoft would release games that were absolutely ridden with bugs and would basically use the feedback of the thousands of complaining users to identify problems that should have been picked up before release
  • Go on Dave, bring it on.
  • edited July 10
    The worst thing Bethesda has done is not DLCs but the Creation Club, where you pay Bethesda for mods created by players, including mods which were previously available free on Nexus or elsewhere.

    To make it worse, you have to avoid the constant Creation Club game updates they try to force on you via Steam, otherwise the updates are known to make your carefully constructed free mod list stop working completely.  I always play SSE in offline mode now, with my router turned off, because you cannot trust the buggers and I've had to reconstruct my SSE from scratch more than once (from an old version I backed up).

    Since the CC is obviously the future of Bethesda games, it's the last game of theirs I will ever buy...
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