Non-profit organization ParentsTogether urged Roblox to stop baiting children into “casino-level spending sprees.” According to activists, kids spend thousands of dollars in the game without parents’ knowledge and experience financial exploitation.
ParentsTogether shared the message on its official website. The organization thinks that developers of Roblox should put in place robust systems that could protect kids from outrageous spending.
“The fact that it keeps happening to so many families means that this is not a bug in the system, it’s Roblox’s business model,” ParentsTogether co-director Justin Ruben said, according to GamesIndustry.biz.
The organization named a few reasons why Roblox is a minefield for children:
- While the game can be downloaded for free, some parents don’t realize that their kids can buy in-game items for real currency. And children themselves just don’t understand the value of money;
- Scammers trick kids into handing over rare items for nothing, pretending to be famous bloggers, or asking to borrow items and not giving them back;
- Children who don’t have the same rare items as other kids experience social pressure and want to keep up with their peers;
- The addictive nature of the game can develop spending habits that might get out of control;
- Kids still can buy in-game items even if their parents’ credit card isn’t linked to a Roblox account, using third-party services like PayPal, Windows, Amazon, and iTunes;
- Some parents manage to refund money, but Apple, for example, often refuses to make refunds.
ParentsTogether also shared a few stories of real parents who faced this problem. For example, one man’s daughter spent $7,200 over two months during lockdown (although her account had a spending cap). A 72-year-old man also was shocked when he saw a $5,000 charge to his bank account. His daughter just kept buying in-game items, thinking that she was “playing with monopoly money.”
The organization claims that Roblox’s business model isn’t transparent enough, saying that “it simply shouldn’t be possible for a player to spend thousands of dollars in a few days.” ParentsTogether also urged parents to always check settings on Roblox and third-party services to prevent kids from spending money.