Mercifully, we’re in the final week of school holidays. However, as we send our kids to their screens and out of our hair, it’s best we protect ourselves against “accidental” in-game purchases.
Speaking as a gamer, and a parent, and a parent of gamers, things ain’t the same for gangsters.
Back in my day, you chiselled the money out your parents only once in order to play the game.
Lo, times do change, and so do the financial constraints with it, as games are cheaper (or even free), but are often more expensive, due to in-game purchases.
Now, in-game purchases are nothing new, as TBS scribe Jordan King-Lacroix noted in 2017, “there are two types of microtransactions, and one more insidious than the other. One type is where you can choose to spend money in order to receive aesthetic bonuses for your in-game character options. For example, you can buy new “skins” for your characters, which makes them look a bit cooler, and lets everyone know you’re “serious” about playing that particular character. You can buy voice lines and sprays, which act as like an “I was here”. This, believe it or not, is the less-insidious form of microtransaction.
A famous example of this is Blizzard’s Overwatch. You can choose to pay only the cost of the game and then never spend a dime on anything in-game. Or you can choose to spend some money on making the characters you play most often cooler looking because, hey, maybe this is the only game you play and, really, there are only so many things you’re likely to want to buy.
The second form, which Durain refers to – rightly – as “pay to win” transactions, is exactly what it sounds like. You can purchase bonuses in-game or other such content that basically pits how much money you have against how much you want to defeat your enemies. All you have to do is read this account of a guy who lost over $9,000 on an iPhone game to realise that microtransactions are a serious problem.
The big issue with pay to win games is that you can only play them without coughing up the cash for so long before they become unplayable. Then you have to spend the money, or else you essentially lose the game.”
A more contemporary example would be EA’s FIFA franchise (although, every sports title operates on the same concept of using in-game currency to improve the attributes of your character without playing the game and having to earn it) combines two game modes that allow the user to improve their experience through real-world money. The most popular is Ultimate Team, of which I ask you to challenge me bro, I’ll smash ya, which allows one to create their fantasy team through an in-game auctioning system, purchasing players from other users to earn coins to buy better players, and et.
Another way to boost your team is through the purchase of packs, which can be purchased with real-world money. The primary issue is that the packs are garbage, but they instil you with the hope of bagging someone OP. There are, of course, many videos on the internet that support your hopes. It’s ostensibly like playing the lottery, except your winnings are localised in fantasy, and deemed completely null and void the following year.
The smart idea, of course, is to not bother paying. However, we find ourselves adults, responsible (for the most part) of their accounts, but with your credit card linked with your online account, the hands of children enable shenanigans most foul. It being school holidays, the second week, and our patience and desire is frayed, we tend to banish our younglings to their screens.
Just to be absolutely sure they’re not impacting your VISA on the sly, here’s how to parent while you’re blissfully absent. Here’s how to activate the spending controls on your console.
The PlayStation network has a simple way to set monthly spending limits for your children:
- Go to Settings > Parental Controls/Family Management > Family Management,
- Select the user you want to set a spending limit for,
- Under the Parental Controls section, select Applications/Devices/Network Feature,
- Select ‘Monthly Spending Limit’.
If your family uses an Xbox One, you can set up your child’s account to require adult approval for purchases from the Microsoft Store:
- Sign in to account.microsoft.com/family with an adult’s Microsoft account
- Find your child’s name and select Content restrictions
- Under Ask a parent, switch Needs adult approval to buy things to On
- If you want to approve or deny their purchasing requests through email or on account.microsoft.com/family, switch Email me when my child gets stuff to On
Finally, Nintendo also has a fairly easy way to restrict spending on its Switch console:
- Sign into your Nintendo Account,
- Select ‘Family group’,
- Select the account you’d like to set limits on,
- Select ‘Spending/purchases on Nintendo Switch eShop and nintendo.com’,
- Check the box next to ‘”To restrict this user’s spending/purchases on Nintendo Switch eShop and nintendo.com, check the box and then select ‘Save changes’.