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The government is now monitoring online stores in games like Roblox and Fortnite for their 'buyer beware' approach

Kenneth Niemeyer   

The government is now monitoring online stores in games like Roblox and Fortnite for their 'buyer beware' approach
  • The federal government is paying attention to the growth of in-game video game currencies.
  • Financial services offer customer protections, but gaming services adopt a 'buyer beware' approach.

There's tons of money sitting around in the form of V-Bucks and other online video game currency, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is starting to notice.

In-game video game currencies continue to grow in value, with financial services like payment processing, money transmission, and loans now entering the gaming world to leverage this new value, the CFBP said in a new report.

While banking and financial services typically give customers protections — such as recourse after an unauthorized transaction — gaming services usually "emphasize a buyer beware approach," the report says.

Purchases made by kids on games like Fortnite and Roblox often show up on unsuspecting parents' bills at the end of the month. Georgina Munday told the BBC her daughter spent nearly £2,500 playing Roblox on the family's iPad last year.

Tesco Bank originally denied Munday's refund request but reversed course and apologized to Munday only after the BBC asked for comment, according to the report.

In 2020, former NBA star turned ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins announced that he was "cool on Fortnite" after learning that his children ran up a $16,000 credit card bill on the game without his knowledge.

Perkins said at the time that he partly blamed the game — which is free to play — for enticing his kids to spend real money on cosmetic items. Perkins said he had to dispute the charges on his credit card.

"I'm looking at the videogame, Fortnite, like they're tricking you," Perkins said on ESPN. "All of a sudden, they're saying, 'Oh, the game is free,' but you got to buy skins and do all this other crazy stuff."

Along with the risk of losing your money with no recourse, the rise in value of gaming assets has caused an increase in reports of hacking attempts, account theft, and scams, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

"For several years, the most popular video games have included immersive virtual worlds that offer the storage and exchange of valuable assets," the report said. "Gaming companies have created digital marketplaces that facilitate the buying, selling, and trading of these assets with limited consumer protections, which has led to potentially harmful practices for players, including financial losses due to theft and scams."

Epic Games, which makes Fortnite, says that any child under 13 has a spending limit of $100 a day on all games using the company's platform, with a parental control PIN needed to make any purchases exceeding the limit. However, the policy does not apply to purchases made with in-game currency, such as V-Bucks in Fortnite.

Roblox also offers parental controls where parents can set monthly spending limits for children under 13. Players who exceed the monthly spending limit receive a popup and can make no more purchases for the month.

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