The big gains in mobile games can be explained above all by the popularity of so-called Free2Play games. They can be played free of charge and offer in-app purchases that can be used to customize the gaming experience. Players can buy additional content, such as more levels or new skins for their own game character. Sales of game apps that can be purchased continue to decline. This is reported by the German Games Industry Association.
For mobile game providers, increasing profits are good news. For children and young people, less so. jugendschutz.net published a report on manipulation in mobile games in November 2021. The report is called "Dark Patterns - On the problem of manipulative game designs in Free2Play apps".
The term "Dark Patterns" is actually known from the areas of online shopping and marketing. In recent years, it has appeared more and more frequently in connection with the games industry. The focus here is on free2play apps. Their concept makes them particularly attractive for children and young people. This is because they promise entertaining games that can be downloaded for free. But they can also quickly become cost and data traps and encourage excessive use. In the report, jugendschutz.net examined three game apps with regard to dark patterns and their youth protection issues.
We spoke with the authors of the report in detail in our podcast. Together with them, we present different forms of manipulation that occur in mobile games.