72% of gamers play online and with so many devices making game play more available there are an increased number of games and applications to entertain. Some of the biggest gaming manufacturers are branching out into online and device applications to make sure they are the leaders of the market and to appeal to the audience that have increased gaming demands. Some of the most successful games such as Mecca Bingo, Angry Birds and Monopoly to name but a few are also available through smartphones and devices, such as tablets, as well as having popular online versions.
There have been a staggering number of reports that apps that claim to be free are actually brimming with hidden charges and secret fees that lead to high costs for the user without them actually realising how much they are spending.
Apps are often free to download but the charges come as game play progresses and levels are completed. Additional extras become available, particularly features that will help the user complete the game. At times, the hidden fees are just a few pence and the user agrees to pay it not realising how much it will begin to add up to after repeated game play.
Children are obsessed with technology and will often use their parents’ smartphones and devices to play some of the most appealing games. Children are unaware of the high costs of certain games and are buying features that will enable them to continue with game play, parents are not realising until they are being charged extortionate amounts.
60% of children aged between 8 and 11 years old regularly use gaming sites and applications. Parents are happy to hand over devices with little consideration of the hidden costs that children are paying. The modern child can easily navigate their way around technology and have no problem entering things such as passwords without the knowledge of the adult. Children are the main target for many gaming manufacturers as they see them as an opportunity for increased game play and the most likely demographic that will pay for the additional extras, adults are then the ones that are faced with the high bills accrued from online games and applications.
Mobile games generated $2.7 billion in 2012 despite a high percentage being ‘free’.
Online gaming has soared in popularity in the last few years thanks to not only the number of devices that allow gaming to take place but for the improved formats of games that are available. There is now a very real concern about the amount of debt that is acquired from online gaming. Children are usually responsible for increased costs stemming from gaming applications yet adults are also finding themselves drawn into spending thousands of pounds of money they do not have simply to be temporarily entertained.
Reputable gaming sites are able to offer controls and monitoring to deter users from getting in over their heads but applications such as ‘free to play’ games are the real culprit as they encourage people to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on games that are labelled as free.
Trading standards authorities have had to step in in a bid to reduce the number of people that are being tricked into the hidden gaming fees. There has been a call for stronger restrictions on the fees involved in game applications and any costs must be clear to ALL users so they are aware of the payments they are making. Parents are also being encouraged to check their child’s online activity regularly to prevent them from incurring unaffordable costs through game play.
Gaming sites are now obligated to NOT label themselves as free if they are not and there needs to be stronger guidelines in place to allow games to be enjoyed whilst making sure the user is aware of what it will cost them.