Teenager spends $50,000 on one mobile game

A Belgian teenager has dropped more than AU$50,000 on iPhone games, allegedly without realising he was spending real money. The unnamed 15-year old from Antwerp spent the money – 37,000 Euro – on in-game gold for strategy title Game of War: Fire Age.

Game of War: Fire Age

Game of War: Fire Age

To make matters worse, the money he spent wasn’t even his. The credit card linked to the account belonged to the boy’s elderly grandfather. Playing the role of family tech support (as most 15-year olds are asked to do), the boy had helped his mother buy purchasing a number of eBooks via iTunes, using his grandfather’s card.

With the credit account then linked to iTunes, the teenager spent thousands of Euro on Game of War over the course of several months. He’s told his mother he didn’t realise he was spending real-world cash, says local media

Apple is yet to announce if it will offer a refund – similar cases have seen hundreds and thousands of pounds given back to parents, despite apps clearly featuring parental controls to avoid this level of spending. (In both of these cases, the children involved were eight years old – substantially younger than this Belgian case.)

If you would like to turn off in-app purchases on iOS devices, the process is simple:

  1. Go to “Settings”
  2. Select “General”
  3. Select “Restrictions”
  4. Tap “Enable Restrictions” and enter a passcode
  5. Find “In-App Purchases”, and turn the selection off

While you’re looking at that section of your phone, familiarise yourself with the other options available – it might be worth preventing the installation or deletion of apps, or disabling the device’s camera.

Game of War is currently third on the top-grossing chart on the UK App Store, despite being advertised as a free-to-play game. In a direct response to this sort of accidental overspending, Google has recently shifted apps featuring in-app transactions out of the “free” section of its App Store, even if no initial purchase is required.

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