Flemish Boy, 15, Believed to Have Spent $46,000 on "free" game

Belgian newspaper claims Game of War microtransactions resulted in huge bill for unsuspecting mother.

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An unnamed 15 year-old boy residing in North Belgium is claimed to have spent some €37,000 ($46,000) on a free-to-play iOS title called Game of War: Fire Age, according to local media.

National Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad is quoted as claiming that the Flemish boy "accidentally" spent the vast sum using his mother's card. It is unclear why the mother's bank allowed these sums to be deducted from her account without intervening.

The Belgian Gambling Commission was quoted by the newspaper as saying "we need stricter rules.”

Game of War: Fire Age is a strategy title that currently lies third in the top-grossing chart on the UK App Store.

Free-to-play games have proven to be controversial in the past five years. Central to complaints from gamers is that pay models become a distraction from the core gameplay experience.

But others believe the system has reignited interest in games, and has helped games companies such as Zynga and King become major successes.

In February, the UK Office of Fair Trading issued new guidelines for companies selling free-to-play games, following a series of complaints from consumers.

"Following our market investigation in 2013, we had concerns that there were industry-wide practices that were potentially misleading, commercially aggressive or otherwise unfair," the OFT wrote.

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