How do in-game purchases work?
In the past, providers of computer and console games made their money by selling the game once. Things are different nowadays with many mobile games, which are offered free of charge as "free-to-play". Here, the game providers earn money through advertising and so-called in-game purchases. In-game purchases refer to all purchases made directly in the game during play. In most cases, these are additional contents that are only unlocked through a purchase.
Examples of in-game purchases:
- Virtual currencies: Many games have their own in-game currencies, such as. Robux in Roblox or Minecraft Coins in Minecraft. Players can purchase these with a few clicks and real money via the app store. They can then be used to purchase characters, skills and equipment (e.g. weapons, clothing) in the game.
- Pay-to-win: This is the name given to a game principle in which you can succeed faster if you pay something. The games are designed in such a way that it takes a lot of effort to reach a goal even without money. But with money it is faster and easier.
- Lootboxes: Lootboxes can be compared to surprise eggs. In games, Lootboxes are often boxes or treasure chests that contain virtual items. You don't know if you can actually use the items they contain until after you buy them.
In-game purchases can quickly become a cost trap, especially for children and young people, and encourage excessive use. In a report by jugendschutz.net, manipulative game designs of free-to-play apps, so-called dark patterns, were examined in more detail. The possibility of in-game purchases is one of the so-called money patterns. During the course of the game, players are regularly offered additional content for a fee in order to maintain or increase the fun of the game. The main problem here is virtual currencies, for which there is usually no fixed exchange rate. The currencies are often sold in packages. With fantasy currencies,players quicklyget the feeling that they are not spending any real money.
With our new quiz on the topic of "in-game purchases", we bring children and young people closer to the problem of costs in games.For example, they learn how to protect themselves from uncontrolled spending. The quiz was developed by our klicksafe Youth Panel in cooperation with the Saferinternet.at-Youth Panel from Austria . In several online meetings, young people from both countries exchanged views on various topics related to their everyday media lives. This gave rise to the idea of developing a joint quiz on the topic of in-game purchases.
The quiz can also be played in school lessons or together with parents to approach the topic together and discuss possible courses of action.
Saferinternet.at supports above all children, young people, parents and teachers in the safe, competent and responsible use of digital media. The initiative is implemented by the European Union within the program Digital Europe (DIGITAL) .
Saferinternet.at, together with the Stopline (report office against child pornography and national socialist re-activation) and 147 Rat auf Draht (telephone help for children, young people and their caregivers) the "Safer Internet Centre Austria". Saferinternet.at is our Austrian partner in the Safer Internet Network of the EU (Insafe).