Roblox:microtransactions and minors

2019-11-04 09:34:59

As the father of three children, all three of whom are avid gamers, Mein-MMO author Andreas Bertits directly addresses the topic of "microtransactions and minors". He describes how he and his wife handle it when the kids ask for money for Roblox.

Again and again one reads and hears that Lootboxen should be equated with gambling mechanics, so that they are also subject to the same rules.

Politicians are calling for better regulation, and gaming studios are fighting against this classification as a game of chance. EA called its Lootboxes "pretty ethical surprise mechanics" in June and compared them to children's surprise eggs.

For many, that's a topic they just read about. As an affected father, this topic has regular effects on my everyday life.

"Daddy, can I buy Robux for Roblox?" I have heard this sentence countless times from my youngest, eight, now nine-year-old daughter. She plays enthusiastically about the popular platform Roblox games that others have created, and even tries herself to "develop" their own small projects. I set up the account after I found out about Roblox.

A "no" answer to the question about Robux leads to a long face, sometimes tears. The Robux are already important to my daughter. After all, she can thus "enjoy" her game better.

As a father, of course, I have to restrict that, steer it into manageable tracks. But I do not want to ban it completely. My parents used to allow me to buy stickers for a scrapbook - to a certain extent.

Nevertheless, one recognizes how much micro-transactions belong to the gaming experience of younger players. They grow on the fact that constantly advertising for currencies or in-game items popping up. It has become normal for her. Something we old gamer can only shake his head about. As a father, I have to learn to handle it.

It's also important for me to pay attention to what my children are playing. I've been an avid gamer myself since I was young, and I'm also involved in the matter in my job.

So I know which games are suitable for my children or at least I can get to know me quickly and easily.

A game that both my wife and I have already played through. Based on our experience with the Hack 'n Slay and because we know our daughter well, we think that Diablo 3 is suitable for her despite her age of 16 years and over.

But that's not the way it is today. A game looks harmless at first glance, has colorful graphics, cute characters, there is no violence in it and yet it can be problematic. Best example: Coin Master.

The game appears as a recommendation in the App Store, looks very colorful and seems harmless. And yet, players use a gambling-like machine for in-game items and can pocket real money in the title. Now, the mobile game may be released from 16 years. But does anyone pay attention?

My impression is that marketing for Coin Master is aimed at younger children. My oldest daughter at the age of 15 is no longer interested in this colorful graphic, any more than my wife and I. Who will stay then? The two younger ones in the family, 8 and 11 years old. They love the cute characters and want to play Coin Master.

This does not have to be a ban, but a mandatory and clear labeling of games with "gambling" elements for players over 18 years, possibly with age verification. Children should play, it is part of everyday life, but games must never be a danger.

In addition, more education for families would be good, for example by advertising on TV.

By developers, I would like to have more sensitivity in dealing with this topic. Advertise with colorful pictures and funny characters for in-game items, I think is wrong. Because that's how children feel.

Please direct yourself to adult customers and do not lure kids into the cost trap with your "virtual sweets". Thanks.

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