Children + RMAH = Disaster / Litigation?Posted 21 April 2012 by Flux
A fan brought up news about an ongoing lawsuit against Apple that’s got some interesting RMAH implications. The topic was, of course, immediately Blue-blocked on Battle.net, but since it’s worth discussing, and since you’re reading this site since you want the whole news and the freedom to discuss it, here’s a quote:
A group of California parents unhappy with Apple over money they didn’t know their children were spending in games has now gotten the go-ahead from a California judge to proceed with a class action lawsuit against the company.
The suit revolves around “game currencies” — real money used within games to buy coins or other in-game tools — that the parents claim children purchased without their knowledge.
Apple has argued that the issue should be dismissed as the in-app purchases were stated in the Terms & Conditions signed by the parents before purchasing the app, “thus making the individuals purchases not voidable.” However, Judge Edward Davila ruled against Apple’s request to dismiss the case. That doesn’t mean the parents have prevailed, but it does mean that both Apple and the parents will continue to pay for this fight.
This issue has often come up in conversation about the RMAH in Diablo III, as players point out the potential for abuse by children and others who may be legally-incompetent to make such real money transactions. Obviously buying items in the D3 RMAH isn’t the same sort of predatory bait and switch scam as the “free to play” Smurf Village example cited in the news piece, but it’s inevitable that someone will try to get their money back and/or file lawsuits against Blizzard over some RMAH purchase they claim they didn’t mean to make, or didn’t realize was a real money purchase when they made it.
It’s not the same thing, but the ultimate legal scenario is the “bought RMAH for Hardcore, lost it all when the realm crashed.” That one seemed ruled out when Real Money Trading was not included in Hardcore, but as Jay Wilson has recently said they probably will put RMAH in HC after launch, it might one day be back on the table.
Also, note the last paragraph of the news. No matter how much software company lawyers wish it were so, requiring customers to click “agree” on something outrageous in the ToS or EULA does not guarantee that a court won’t overturn it. Those agreements have been struck down by courts on numerous occasions, especially in the still-evolving area of digital rights and properties.