Content warning: this article contains references to suicide.
The developer of the Battle Royale game, Free Fire, is reportedly under police investigation following a teenage death after spending ₹40,000 of their parent’s money on microtransactions. [via NDTV].
Free Fire is a mobile battle royale game that’s hugely popular in India. Published by Garena, the game features microtransactions in which players can buy cosmetic items with real-world money.
The Madhya Pradesh government has reportedly filed a police report against the publisher following the death of one of the game’s players. According to reports, the teenager left a note before committing suicide that asked for forgiveness from their parents. Reports state that they had allegedly taken ₹40,000 (around £400) from their parents account before spending it on Free Fire’s microtransactions.
Local law enforcement told NDTV: “Superintendents of police across the state have been directed to take action against the developers of such addictive games, which are disorientating the young generation and playing with their lives.
“We have sought the state Law department’s opinion to initiate legal action against such companies.”
Garena is yet to respond to the news of the police investigation.
Governments are clamping down on video game microtransactions
Some game publishers are starting to take the matter of microtransactions far more seriously. Last year, EA launched a spending tracker in FIFA 21 that helped players keep on top of the amount of money they spend in-game.
Elsewhere, studies are showing that loot box gacha mechanics are “structurally and psychologically akin to gambling”. As such, countries like Germany are looking to restrict games with loot boxes to adults only.
Free Fire has an age rating of 12+ on the iOS App Store. This is dictated by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board. However, on the Google Play Store, it has been slapped with a mature 17+ rating due to the in-app purchases that it offers.
Our condolences are with the family of the teenager who lost their life.
Featured Image Credit: Garena