A distraught father has urged parents to be watchful of their children’s gaming habits after his 12-year-old son splashed out £691 ($918) on shooter survival game Fortnite.
The game is available on all major platforms and consoles except Android – although a version is planned for later this summer – and is free to download and play.
Once installed, it offers a host of in-game purchases, including new skins, dance moves and accessories.
Youngsters left unattended can quickly rack up huge bills without realising it, when buying must have add ons.
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After leaving his card details saved in his Xbox, Steve Harrison (right), 37, from Stoke-On-Trent, discovered that his 12-year-old son, Tyler (left) had managed to spend the eye-watering amount in just three days on in-game purchases
After leaving his card details saved in his Xbox, Steve Harrison, 37, from Stoke-On-Trent, discovered that his son, Tyler had managed to spend the eye-watering amount in just three days.
Over the course of the 72-hour period, Tyler completed 81 separate purchases on in-game accessories, culminating in the jaw-dropping bill.
Steven told the Birmingham Mail that his bank, NatWest, should have alerted him to the frivolous spending earlier.
He did admit, however, that he left his details saved on the unit after letting his son buy a birthday gift.
He said: ‘I just want to warn other parents to be careful.’
A NatWest spokesman said: ‘We sympathise but we are not able to refund the disputed transactions because the card use was contrary to our terms and conditions.’
This is not the first time Fortnite has had to send out a huge bill to the parents of game-crazed offspring.
Many young players have already come unstuck, thanks to the game’s systems of reward tiers. The more time spent playing, the better the rewards.
Parents across the world have bemoaned their Fortnite-obsessed children’s spending habits since the game’s release in September 2017.
Fortnite (pictured) has taken the world by storm, and the developers are profiting handsomely from it. In the three month period it has bee available to iPhone users, the free to download game has made a staggering $100 million (£72 million)
Fortnite is a game of survival where players create a superhero avatar and compete against each other on a dystopian island.
Each game, or ‘match’ as each competition is known, starts with 100 players.
The aim of the game is to be the last one standing. Users can form allegiances and play in small groups.
To enable this and the interactive experience, the game allows completely open communication between players.
Inspired by the Hunger Games novels and films, gamers search for weapons to help them survive.
Armed with quirky weapons and amusing dances, the game has swept across the gaming world, with children flocking to it.
While there is no exact figure on how many children play Fortnite, the game has so far pulled in an audience of over 3.4 million players.
One mother, Julie, told MoneySavingExpert in April that her son spent £150 ($205) on Fortnite without her permission.
She said: ‘He thought as his name was the user name on the game the money was coming out of his account. Sadly this was not the case.’
Another, Jo, said her eight-year-old son had racked up an £80 ($109) bill on Xbox One.
She said: ‘You know what it’s like – we bought the game for my son and he was super-excited and we set it all up as quick as we could.
‘When we put payment details in we didn’t think it could be used in-game… but he spent £79.99. He’s had a ban and lost some pocket money to pay it back.’
As Fortnite’s success continues to grow, so do concerns about its affect on children.
Since its launch on iOS in mid-March, the game quickly climbed the ranks of the top 10 free iOS apps following its launch on the platform, beating the likes of Snapchat, Facebook and WhatsApp.
Free to play, users can spend real-world money on upgrades for their avatar in the game. These include skins, dance moves and accessories. According to analysis from market analyst Sensor Tower , the game made more than $25 million (£19 million) during its first month on iOS
The NSPCC has launched new advice for parents of young people playing the multiplayer action survival game Fortnite: Battle Royale.
It comes amid concerns over a function in Fortnite which automatically allows users to speak to other players through voice and text chat functions.
It means children can be contacted by anyone else who is playing the game.
Research from NSPCC revealed that that one in four children have been contacted online by someone they don’t know.
The research is based on reviews by children and parents of the most popular apps, sites and games currently on the market, featured on the Net Aware app and website.
The NSPCC is offering parents the following advice:
– Talk to your child regularly about what they are doing online and how to stay safe. Let them know they can come to you or another trusted adult if they’re feeling worried or upset by anything they have seen. You can use our conversation starters to support you when starting these conversations.
– Explore your child’s online activities together. Understand why they like using certain apps, games or websites and make sure they know what they can do to keep themselves safe.
– Agree your own rules as a family when using sites, apps and games. You can use our Family Agreement template to help you get started.
– Manage your technology and use the privacy and parental control settings available to keep your child safe.
Fortnite was also the most downloaded app on iPad in the weeks after its release.
In the history of the App Store, the only games to reach the same nine-figure payday faster than Fortnite are Clash Royale, which went viral back in March 2016, and Pokemon Go.
While it Fortnite took 90 days to clear £72 million ($100 million), Clash Royale achieve the feat in just 51.
That’s more than £60,000 ($80,000) an hour spent on in-app purchases alone.
Niantic’s Pokemon Go was another bona-fide sensation with iOS players, making in excess of £455 million ($600 million) in the first 90 days.
Earlier this week, the World Health Organisation announced ‘gaming addiction’ will be added to the organisation’s International Classification of Diseases, a compendium of medical conditions.
From Monday, governments around the world are expected to provide treatment for ‘gaming disorder’ and incorporate it into their healthcare systems – including the NHS.
As well as gaming addiction now being available on the NHS, teachers have raised concerns that the game is affecting the concentration of children.
Last month, staff at Greenways Primary School in Stockton Brook, Stoke-on-Trent, wrote to parents about the popular free game.
In an email to parents, head teacher Jemma Garside said: ‘A new game has become popular with the children in school – Fortnite, age-rating 12.
WHO classifies internet gaming as official mental health disorder
The World Health Organisation has classified playing video games on the internet as an official mental health disorder.
‘Gaming disorder’ is defined as ‘a pattern of gaming behavior characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.’
To be diagnosed with gaming disorder, the individual must:
(1) Experience significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning
(2) Have experienced this impairment for at least 12 months
WHO advises gamers to be mindful of how much time they spend playing, especially if it is to the exclusion of other daily activities.
They should also be alert to changes in their physical or psychological health and social functioning which could be attributed to gaming.
‘Unfortunately, discussions around this game are being brought into school and into the classroom which is distracting children from their learning.
‘Can you please speak to your child about this so that learning time is not lost dealing with issues linked to this game.’
Many gamers rejected the classification of gaming addiction as a mental helath condition, claiming it only affects a small minority of the community.
A report, compiled by eight gaming influencers, surveyed 800 gamers and found that most gamers see their hobby as a positive, rather than a negative, influence.
Very few saw gaming as an addiction or a medical condition.
The report said 44 per cent of gamers say that emotional well-being is the main benefit of gaming to society.
Whilst it is directly affecting only a small amount of people, the ramifications can be severe.
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