"The majority of the reason that I made my post was not really to slam EA or any of the companies that do this, but to share my story and to show that these transactions are not as innocent as they really appear to be. They can lead you down a path."
- Reddit user Kensgold, speaking to Kotaku about why he published an open letter warning devs at EA and other companies about the dangers of unregulated microtransaction opportunities in games.
In the midst of the ongoing furor over how and if "loot box" systems should be implemented in games, Reddit user Kensgold posted an open letter earlier this month warning to both the Star Wars Battlefront II devs and the industry at large about how such systems can lead players into dark waters.
This seems deeply relevant to where the game industry is at this year, and today Kotaku published excerpts from a conversation they had with Kensgold, who claims to have spent over $10,000 on in-game microtransactions in the past six years.
Kensgold reportedly showed receipts to Kotaku which back this claim up; what makes it especially striking is that he claims to have started spending money on in-game microtransactions when he was 13.
He's now 19, and says he had to seek professional help in order to get a handle on his habit of spending hundreds of dollars a month on games like Kingdoms of Middle-earth, Smite, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, money he was earning working part-time while still in high school.
"I had to get up the nerve to ask for help. To get a therapist to lay it out for me, like 'This is what you’re doing, this is how you can help yourself, here are the tools to help you,'" he said. "You don’t really expect it to help as much as it does."
Kensgold says he now has to tell friends he can't always play games with them, because those games might have microtransaction systems that he fears might lead him back down a bad path.
"For a while it was difficult to tell your friends that you can’t play with them just because of the way the game is implemented," he said, noting that the tension has eased as time has passed.