I few years ago, I got hooked on a game called MapleStory, an oddly enjoyable multi-player side-scrolling platformer that involved fighting adorable cartoon monsters using equally-adorable cartoon avatars. As my addiction to the game began to grow, I started noticing how incredibly well-equipped most of the other players were. It was only after talking to some of these users that I discovered most of the cool stuff they were carrying was purchased using real money. When I saw the prices, my virtual heart plummeted into my pixelated shorts. There was no way I was going to shell out money to buy digital trinkets.
Within days, my MapleStory account went cold.
However, a lot of people don’t have a problem dropping insane amount of cash on microtransactions, especially those who are into social, casual, and mobile games. In fact, the practice is so out of control with kids in Japan that the country is looking to limit how much individuals under the age of 18 can spend in one month. It’s pretty bad when someone you don’t know has to step in to curb your video game addiction.
Six of the major Japanese social game operators — specifically, Mixi, NHN Japan, Dwango Co, Gree, DeNA, and CyberAgent — are joining the cause, which will allow minors to spend only 10,000 yen ($124) on such virtual experiences per month. Unfortunately, if you’re under the age of 15, you can only spend 5,000 yen per month. So the next time you’re contemplating buying that limited edition purple and orange suit of armor with the image of a kitten plastered across the front, make sure you have enough room in your budget for the magic sword made out of throbbing crystals.
After all, regret is a terrible thing to live with.