Record profits at the expense of children?Mobile games generate 2.7 billion euros in revenue from in-app purchases

Last year, more money was earned with mobile games in Germany than ever before. Unfortunately, many of the initially free games are designed so that players spend as much time as possible with them. They see more advertising and spend more money with in-app purchases. For the providers, these manipulative tricks keep the cash registers ringing. For children and young people, they are a big problem.

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.

Report by on mobile games

For mobile game providers, increasing profits are good news. For children and young people, less so. 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, examined three game apps with regard to dark patterns and their youth protection issues.

→ Report: Dark Patterns |

klicksafe asks ... are mobile games manipulating our children?

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.