Jurassic World’s microtransactions. (Credit: Universal/Ludia)
“Life finds a way,” quipped Jeff Goldblum in the original Jurassic Park. So too, apparently, do app-addicted tykes.
U.K. resident Mohamed Shugaa was shocked last month to discover that his 7-year-old son had spent over £4000 (roughly $5,900) in microtransactions for the iPad game Jurassic World.
Developed by Ludia, Jurassic World combines elements of tycoon games and Pokemon-style battlers. You’re tasked with building a dinosaur theme park, breeding and hatching dinos, and then sending them off to fight. Initially free to play, the slickly produced app quickly lets you know that you can speed up production and acquire more beasties by purchasing virtual Dino Bucks via your iTunes account.
Evidently dizzy with dino power, Shugaa’s son rang up 65 transactions’ worth of Dino Bucks in mid-December before his dad found out about it. A shocked Shugaa contacted Apple’s customer support and obtained a refund, though Apple’s official policy is that parents should closely monitor children’s use of iTunes accounts and avail themselves of the available restriction tools.
This is good advice. The ethics of the free-to-play, microtransaction-based business model remain a subject of debate, but it doesn’t look like Dino Bucks, or Smurfberries, or Gold Bars, or a billion other virtual-currency variants are going anywhere anytime soon. Parents, you have been warned.
You can email Gordon Cameron here.