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Credit Card Required To View 'M' Rated Information 103

Posted by Zonk
from the a-little-extreme dept.
John Callaham writes "Gamecloud has a special feature article titled 'Going Through The Age Gate'. Why are some downloads of game trailers and demos are now requiring that a person declare their age before accessing them?" Not only are some sites requiring you declare your age, Activision is requiring a credit card to view "M" rated game information. From the article: "Asking for a credit card number, even if that the message says it will not be charged, brings up some very serious questions. Why is Activision asking for credit card numbers to access product pages that promote 'M' rated games when the ESRB and every other publisher only use the required 'age gate'?"
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Credit Card Required To View 'M' Rated Information

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  • Question... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by non0score (890022)
    Aren't credit cards obtainable only at the age of 18 or greater? If so, this would satisfy the case of being 18 or older to view the content (granted not all 18 year olds or over have credit cards, but this is Activision's loss).
    • Re:Question... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Holi (250190) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @05:23PM (#13768592)
      Gee no parent ever gets there children credit cards in america. Age verification via credit card is not even close to fool proof.
      • Sure, but I think in those cases, the parents already pretty much forfeited parenting all together. So I guess this scheme only addresses those who don't have credit cards and are under 18?
        • Can you explain how obtaining a credit card for a young adult is forfeiting parenting altogether?
          • Its not forfeiting parenting so much as it is forfeiting sense altogether. Credit cards are unreasonable debt for instant gratification. I still can't understand why everyone gets the things, other than their being normal and expected these days.
            • True, but they help build up a credit rating. So long as you pay off your entire bill before the end of the months you don't acquire interest. I make sure I'm always completely paid of at the end of the month, sometimes checking/paying my balance online 2 or 3 times a month just to be sure.

              I'll admit, when I first got a credit card I was making like NO money. Instead of saving up for a few more months to buy the parts of a new computer I decided to use a credit card. So I had a big bill for the next few
              • Actually credit cards for children (under 18) have no effect on their credit rating as the accounts are actually in the parents name (just have the children's name on the card).
                • True, but the grandparent was saying how he can't figure out why people bother getting them at all. I was just saying that used responsibly they are quite useful.
                  • That's funny, I have a fine credit rating, perhaps because of paid off student loans, and actually just got a house about 2 weeks ago. Granted, it makes me want to scream, since I hate debt (hence the paid off student loans already, they were priority 1)... but I guess its better than throwing away money on an appartment.
                    • Same here. Remember, there is 'good debt," which credit cards rarely fall under. Student loans and House loans help out a lot, car loans a little less, and credit cards even less (to the point that they can hurt). So long as you don't start falling behind, you're fine. The problem is with credit cards most people bite off more than they can chew.

                      Having a student loan helps out A LOT. Paying it off helps a lot, but even just paying it every month brings your score up.

                      I'm in the same boat, I hate debt.
            • Most debit cards act just like credit cards. I had a job at 15, and I had a debit card linked to my checking account where I put money from said job to spend on eBay from about 16 or so.
          • Kid: Hey mom, I want to get Black and White 2. Is that OK?
            Mom: *thinks* B&W2 isn't violent */thinks* Sure! Just put it on your CC.
            Kid: *goes on ebworld.com* Hrm...Quake 4 looks cool. I guess mom won't care since they cost the same.

            And last I checked, VISA statements doesn't say exactly what you bought in the store, just how much you were charged from that store.

            I think I came off a bit too critical with the words "forfeiting parenting altogether." What I mean is that maybe parents don't necessaril
      • Re:Question... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by nunchux (869574) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @03:04AM (#13771557)
        Gee no parent ever gets there children credit cards in america. Age verification via credit card is not even close to fool proof.

        Really though, it might as well be consent. If a parent gives a teen a credit card the kid has either proven themself to be extremely trustworthy, or the parent's so rich or out of it he doesn't give a fuck what little Dylan/Dakota/Paris does. A 16-year old with a credit card can get in a lot more trouble than buying an M-rated game with 3-D models of boobs.
    • check cards (Score:3, Informative)

      by MBraynard (653724)
      People under 18 can get check card without a parent's permission, and the activision server cannot distinguish between a check card and a regular credit card.
      • This is so true. They asked if I wanted one when I opened an account for my 2 month old son. I had a job and a debit card at 15. (actually an ATM card then, but the same thing now) If all they need is the number w/ no charges, no parent would even know even if they looked at the statement.
    • A guy I work with, found out at age 18, that his parents had credit cards in his name for 5 years, and had trashed his credit. I thought of taking them to court over the deal, but for some reason did not. This is a common thing in south texas. That and selling SSNs to illegals/tax write offs for cash.
      • by kd5ujz (640580)
        err, that "I thought" should be "he thought". Fruedian slip. My parents are not to blame for my blemished credit. I attribute that to ebay and alcohol.
    • Lets see. I'm 23. I don't have a credit card. Nor does anyone I know. Why should I pay for a card I don't want nor need to prove I'm above 18?
    • I got my first one at 16. Banks'll let you do it, especially if a parent will sign on it with you. (Think of it, teenage girls and shopping, why WOULDN'T they want that interest to build up an extra 2 years?)
    • As much as this sucks there is a way around this check.
      Right Click -> Open in a New Window.
  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by American AC in Paris (230456) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @05:22PM (#13768565) Homepage
    Why is Activision asking for credit card numbers to access product pages that promote 'M' rated games when the ESRB and every other publisher only use the required 'age gate'?

    It's pretty obvious why they're doing this--this is classic Cover Your Ass.

    Sure, nobody has sued a game publisher over the good ol' fashioned trust system yet--but Activision really doesn't relish the thought of being that lucky test case. Hence, they've decided to close this particular avenue of litigation.

    A better question would be to ask whether or not Activision is overreacting to the percieved threat of a lawsuit.

    • It would be an even bigger story if Activision could determine your age from your credit card number. I might be wrong but I doubt they can. Just because you have a credit card doesn't mean you're necessarily over 18, does it?
    • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bob_jordan (39836)
      Its an odd way to cover your ass.

      You can access this violent content if you either ...

      a) Have a credit card and are therefor 18 or over.
      b) Have parents who let you use their credit card online.
      c) Are able to write simple programs and can type "luhn number" into google.

      Bob.
    • Re:Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by DAldredge (2353)
      That doesn't stop those who buy a prepaid visa debit card from the local mall.

    • And an even better question is, "Will anyone ever look at this page versus a page that only has an age gate."

      Hint: the answer is, "No."
  • And apparently that works.

    So why should "violent content" producers be any different than "adult content" producers?

    (not that I've ever used a credit card to verify my age)
  • It's pretty obvious (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jpowers (32595) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @05:26PM (#13768622) Homepage
    Because you can't show them your driver's license or photo ID over the internet. The only way they can even try to check for age is to see if you have a credit card (you can only get your own if you're 18 in most states). I'm sure collecting the card lets them verify your ID, but it's useful marketing data for them, too. They can match you wherever you put in that card # and see what you're interested in.

    I'm not thrilled about putting my credit card number in online when there's nothing to buy, but I don't think this is for them to charge it - imagine them treating the card like a doubleclick cookie and you see where they may be able to gather a little bit of data about their users. I'm not as paranoid about personal data as some, so it's not much of a concern to me, but if we had some other unique form of ID I'd be more comfortable with this.
    • Because you can't show them your driver's license or photo ID over the internet. The only way they can even try to check for age is to see if you have a credit card (you can only get your own if you're 18 in most states).
      My dog is only 6 and he gets credit card apps all the time, including the pre-approved ones you activate with a phonecall.

      My niece is in 9th grade and gets apps all the time as well.

    • by jonfr (888673)
      It is pretty obvious that there credit card check is faulty, i only get the year 2002 as final year. My own credit card however runs out this year (2005), so pepole with legal credit cards can't even check in. However there way to check age is fishy, they are not trustworthy of this peace of info.
  • Game-related? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by diamondmagic (877411) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @05:32PM (#13768686) Homepage
    Wouldn't this belong under YRO?

    Microsoft passport requires this to access many first-party features, so it isn't somthing new. But the fact you do need to enter a credit card number is disturbing, not just detering people away from the game. Passport stores your number in a database after you enter it; would this?
  • by StandSure (778854) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @05:37PM (#13768738)
    I live in California and I had my first Credit Card at 17. So just having a credit card doesn't make you an adult.
    At the time it was guaranteed by my mother but I still had a number on it. So if they want to protect themselves it had better tie into a real database somewhere down the line which will tell them your age.
  • Morons. (Score:3, Informative)

    by RyoShin (610051) <.tukaro. .at. .gmail.com.> on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @05:40PM (#13768762) Homepage Journal
    Because everyone knows that you just cannot have a credit card if you're under 18!

    Unless you get a card on your parent's account.

    Or get a credit card while 16 (I started getting massive solicitations about that age.)

    Or find/loot/steal a credit card from someone.

    Or get someone who has a credit card allow you to use their number.

    There are some things I will give up credit card numbers for. Getting another credit card, for instance. Or buying something. But I'm not going to release my financial information to view a trailer for a video game. I'll just wait until some independent game site sticks it on their server, thanks.

    Next thing you know, we'll be getting stories on Slashdot like "Activisions's New Game (first born and credit card required) is said to put the 'mat' in 'mature'."
    • Or just get a check card. Minors can have checking acounts.
    • Since the site doesn't actually verify your info with the CC company, you don't even need a valid number. A randomly generated card number [darkcoding.net] works just fine.
    • from parent's sig:
      sine cosine cosine sine 3.14159!


      Sounds like a spell from Harry Potter and the Lessons of Trigonometry. :)
      • It's actually a quote from an episode of Third Rock From the Sun, that old NBC nightly sitcom. :)

        Ah, Dick, the laughs you brought me...
        • It's actually a quote from an episode of Third Rock From the Sun, that old NBC nightly sitcom.


          No wonder i didn't recognize it then. Didn't watch that show much, and then only dubbed in german which probably would have crippled it beyond recognition anyways.
    • Well I'm sure it works a whole lot better than age verification by asking you to enter your birthdate. What's easier - getting a credit card or just entering 1/1/1970?

      I don't want to enter a credit card number if I'm not buying something, so I won't be using this site. But don't say this is a stupid measure - it's the best web-based age verification method that I can think of, besides requesting both a CC number AND a birthdate.
  • by PetyrRahl (880843) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @05:48PM (#13768849)
    That will be the next headline. They'll get hacked, the CC #'s will be stolen and ID theft will abound. Later it will come out that it was an ambitious VP who was in on it, made out like a bandit and is still at large.

    Petyr
  • Just a second... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @05:51PM (#13768889)
    This thing isn't asking for name, billing address, CVC/CV2 number, experation date...

    It's asking for a number and a DOB.

    What this thing is doing is running the number against a check of Visa/Mastercard/AMEX's available card numbers to see if the algorithms check out. For example... 1111 1111 1111 1111 is not a valid card number. In fact, there are credit card number generators out on the net that do nothing but figure out bank information numbers and card holder numbers, throw it together, and give you a 16 digit account number.

    Any credit card generator program could easily be used to bypass this if people are being uptight about the authorization.

    The whole reason behind this is so that the parents realize that little Billy is digging in the wallet trying to figure out what a real credit card number looks like.

    Is it so bad that, instead of really looking at the information, we dig out the pitchforks over any little thing?
    • From what little I know about credit card transactions, you can't really validate a card with its bank without making a transaction. While you can make a transaction and roll it back, both of those acts would cost the website money. Also, banks don't like it when you put charges on a card that you don't intend to complete. Because of that, I'd imagine that the above post is correct. In fact, they probably don't even store the card number and revalidate it if you log in - they just keep a flag stating tha
      • Perhaps they are tackling it from the wrong direction - maybe they should lobby to make it illegal for children under 17 to be on the Internet without parental supervision - put the burden on the parents! Yeah...that'll happen....
  • Game Sites (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bios_Hakr (68586) <xpticalNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @05:59PM (#13768964) Homepage
    First off, I can't remember the last time I for game information from a publisher's site. Does anyone seriuosly go to Activision.com to look up the features of Big Mutha Truka 2005? No thanks. I read off-site previews and reviews. Something like mediareviews, 1up, or gamerankings always has enough information on the games I find interesting.

    Second, these guys are only hurting themselves. Let's say 10% of gamers actually go to a publisher's site to get something. How many will actually have a CC? How many will be willing to put that number in? I think not many. The traffic to what is, in effect, an advertisement will fall. And with the adverts not getting clicks, the game sales will fall sharply.

    Finally, let's say they have an exclusive demo or make you register to get updates. Well, the demo will be out on eMule and ISOHunt within a few days. If not, the full game will be out no later than 2 weeks after the release. And if people can't access a demo, sales will fall and piracy will rise. Updates and patches will end up mirrored by tons of fan sites; they are rarely hosted back at the publisher's site anyway.

    Look, I really understand that game publishers are scared. After all, they are in a position where screenshots and in-game videos will get you sued while Tubgirl and Rocco float around unmolested. It really is sick when selling a game to a kid will result in a bigger fine than selling him porn or alcohol. The pubs are scared. But taking this first step is really going to hurt them in the eyes of the precious few consumers that actually try and read their sites.
    • "It really is sick when selling a game to a kid will result in a bigger fine than selling him porn or alcohol."

      I agree that the fines are stupid in general, but if we are to fine people, selling violent games to kids should damn well be a more serious offense than selling them a magazine with some unclothed human beings. Don't fall for the "porn is evil"-propaganda.

      • What kind of idiot are you? Have you actually seen porn since the mid-1970s? Kids do not need to see things like Juggs. I shouldn't have to explain why a fat woman is squirting milk into some dude's cereal. Kids shouldn't see things like Hustler where girls are pissing on each other or a girl is taking it in the ass and in the mouth at the same time.

        That shit is not normal. To let anyone be tainted by such perversions at an early age should be a criminal offense.

        I don't care if my kids see a boobie or
        • I'd rather have my theoretical kids see any of the things you mentioned than let them play games that for example idolize gangster culture*. I hardly think someone is going to start enjoying triple penetration just because they saw it in a movie. And if they would enjoy it, it's none of my business as long as they use protection.

          What kind of idiot are *you*, who thinks we should censor things that hurt no one but the prudes?

          *Of course, if my kids had already demonstrated their intelligence and good ma

  • by AzraelKans (697974) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @06:03PM (#13769004) Homepage
    And the entire webpage will get 0 visits in .. 5,4,3,2,1...

    Sorry but I seriously doubt someone could be naive enough to release a CC just for seing a website. (unless is a payment site or is Actually a KID doing the visit) specially when several websites have the material, I dont really see how this could work in anyway for anyone. (except for hackers to have a grand opportunity at CC farming)
  • Since I was 15 or younger if I needed a credit card for something all I had to do was ask my parents. As long as I gave them the money for the purchase they didn't mind. And if you take a parent like that, add to it the mentality of many parents today who don't pay much attention to what their children watch or surf on the net and it shouldn't be too hard to get a credit card number. Of course over all it's just a stupid idea. I realize it's CYA but still...
  • stupid.... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by B3AST! (916930)

    very bad idea......one more chance for someone to steal your credit card number and you aren't even BUYING anything from it....it's one thing if i at least was getting something out of the deal, but to just be getting a trailer when they steal it?? that's sad

    this is like when companies use your SS number for verification or worse, for your employee ID...it wasn't designed for that and should not be used for that

  • by telstar (236404) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @06:18PM (#13769135)
    I just checked out Activision's website ... that's just nuts. Requiring a credit card to access the content of Doom 3? They're only hurting themselves and their sales. I'd NEVER enter my credit card just to access content. Hell, I won't even register for many free websites just to read content that's blocked behind authentication.

    Worse yet, they request your credit card number in this small popup with pretty much no supporting text that's helpful in identifying that it's a popup coming from Activision. For all you know, it's a popup from some advertiser phishing for credit card numbers. From the titlebar, you can see that the page uses https, but that's about it. Dumb, dumb move for a company trying to promote their product.
  • Anyone know if it actually verifies card info?

    if not you could just change your own CC info just enough to get by. Maybe they are only doing a MOD10 check.

    I guess you would only do this if you cared to see this stuff...
    • Re:fake card? (Score:2, Informative)

      by caitsith2 (773099)
      MOD10 check only. You can even use fake numbers like 4242 4242 4242 4242, or 4000 0000 0000 0002. However, if it fails on either the birth date, or the credit card number, a cookie is set, to completely disallowing of a second chance, unless the user knows how to clear the cookie.
  • by BushCheney08 (917605) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @07:26PM (#13769656)
    Well, the sample credit card numbers on the VeriSign page [verisign.com] seem to work okay. I only tried a few, but they worked. And it only took a few seconds of googling to come up with those.
  • I thought Visa and other CC companies had policies regarding not identifying customers by CC information. As much as they'll bend you over themselves, they seem to be pretty strict with merchants, reserving the bend-you-over right for themselves. Anyone know the specific policies on this?

    • activision only does the mathematical (mod10 i think is the name) test for validity, and credit card generating tool or list of generated numbers will work
  • Back in the 80s and 90s, of course. The algorithm for verification of a CC is not hard to implement. It's trivial to generate millions of them.

    How does Activision think that's going to stop anyone? Generate millions of fake CCs for getting past this, and continue. Hell, use fake CCs for all sites that won't charge your CC. Not charging it is the same as not checking, right?
  • It's been stated that Activision doesn't even verify the cards, they're just checking the number, so any generator should work for this.

    But for other purposes, like buying AdultCheck IDs, why not just get one of the little cash-reloadable cards? A few years back, 7-11 had AmEx "gift cards" that you could add value to just by handing cash to the clerk. There was no ID or age check to get one.

    That pilot program ended, but I think recently there've been a few other cash-card systems that appear as a CC to the
  • by cgenman (325138) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @08:52PM (#13770223) Homepage
    We should all feel comfortable entering our credit card information at Activision [russianmob.gov]. In fact, I'm going to do it right now on their super secure server [suckered.com].

    I suggest you all follow me and just do it [dontdoit.com].
  • Firefox Bypasses It (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rajivvarma (71946) <rnvarma@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @01:58AM (#13771388) Homepage
    Firefox seems to bypass the Activision window blocking access to the "mature" site. All you have to do is open the link in a new tab (middle-click or ctrl-click on the link).
  • Can't you get a debit card as soon as you open a bank account nowadays? Are these systems sophisticated enough to care whether it's a debit card or credit card, or are they pretty straight-forward (i.e. with that information I was able to put a one cent charge and reverse it)?
  • LOL (Score:2, Funny)

    by Kylere (846597)
    I will skip activision game data, I have seen the coding of their games, their is no way I trust the coding of their "secure" servers. Really anyone willing to give up credit card data to see a game trailer/preview is seriously confused about life priorities.
  • If I'm not mistaken (Score:2, Informative)

    by Kingrames (858416)
    there was an article on the local news not too long ago about a woman who filled out a credit card application for her preschool daughter. It was accepted, and she was sent a card.

    So I suppose it IS all about the money.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    For anyone who has done any CC validation testing, the test number of 4 followed by fifteen 1s works on the site- so you don't even need to enter in a valid CC number to see the information.
  • Hrm? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rinisari (521266) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @12:55PM (#13774502) Homepage Journal
    What about the people who are over 20 and don't have a credit card because they simply don't want one? Granted that segment of the population is fairly small, but isn't the goal of entertainment companies to entertain everyone they can?
    • "Granted that segment of the population is fairly small, but isn't the goal of entertainment companies to entertain everyone they can?"

      No, the goal is to get everyone they can to purchase their product. It's a cost/benefit thing.

      Risk of lawsuit for not verifying age * (Cost of settlement of lawsuit + cost of lawyers to negotiate settlement and/or handle civil suit)

      Vs.

      Lost profits due to people not buying because of CC verification.

      Besides, if a game trailer is forbidden, you can bet that every k
  • As one of the few people in the UK whos never bothered with credit cards, I guess this means I wont be viewing any of this oh so important information as I'm unable to prove my age. Oh well, Im sure I'll get over it.
  • Maybe Activision are smarter than they think. They know the only people to give out their credit card to view a trailer will be kids! So if you put in your credit card details maybe it then denies access to the trailer.
  • by drwiii (434)
    Just copy and paste the link into your URL bar instead of clicking on it. Whoops, no card prompt, you're in.
  • I'll have to agree with many of the posters here: any company asking for a credit card number as proof of age is out of line for some combination of arrogance, presumption, and outright naivete.
    That said, I have two questions: one, has anyone from the security community put in their .02cr on this issue; and two, are any of you planning to write Activision (for instance) and share their displeasure over this 'idea'?
  • I must admit, years of growing up playing Doom, Turok, Conkers and such, I cant help but to only get angry thinking back on all those years I spent appearently illegally rotting my brain with these pixelized portraials of blood and sex. Shit, why couldnt they have thought of this a few years back before all that violence caused this traumatizing damage. Lock up your daughters, blind fold your sons. No one is safe!!! Nobody look or you may be turned into a pillar of salt!

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