It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that video game companies include a wide variety of money-making strategies in their releases. Some of these are obvious at first glance, like requiring paid subscriptions for online gaming, but some of these strategies might be harder to pick up on.
Find out three ways that video games trick you into spending more than you planned.
1. Loot Boxes
Loot boxes are microtransactions that offer items, outfits, catchphrases and other prizes for players. The only catch is that the player doesn’t know what they’re getting until after they’ve paid the price.
While a loot box or two is perfectly fine, some gamers can’t stop spending money to get the special prizes they want. This is why loot boxes are linked to gambling and why politicians around the world have been advocating for regulations on these microtransactions in order to protect unwitting consumers.
Despite the political concern, it doesn’t look like loot boxes are going away any time soon. In 2020, loot boxes generated 15 billion dollars from the global market, and they are predicted to generate over 20 billion dollars by 2025.
2. Conversion Rates
In-game currency often lets you buy special items, equipment, outfits and other products that could make the gaming experience that much better. Players can choose to purchase this in-game currency using their real-world currency. This seems like a fair trade until you look at the conversion rate between the currencies.
You might be spending a lot more than you thought on a small amount of game-play currency, whether it’s gold coins, gems, bells or stars.
Video game companies use FOMO (the fear of missing out) to get players to empty their pockets. They do this by creating limited-time events and special expansions that come with high-price tags. For instance, Fortnite hosted an in-game concert with Ariana Grande with skins and accessories available for a limited time only.
These limited collectibles aren’t just fun. Often, they make the regular playing experience better. Players who join in can access rare items, stronger weapons and tougher armor. So, in a way, players that don’t pay to participate are punished.
The Trouble with Overspending
These video game tricks can push you to spend well beyond your means. They could lead you to rack up debt, drain your savings account or simply live from paycheck to paycheck without an end in sight. These are not financially savvy positions to be in, especially because you’ll have no safety nets for when emergency expenses crop up.
Think about it. If your car breaks down and needs repairs, or you need to call a plumber to fix your sink out of the blue, how will you pay for it? If your budget is tight and you don’t have savings, you could use your credit card to cover the expense right away and then pay down the balance later. Or you could try to apply for a small personal loan online and wait to see whether you’re approved. If you’re approved for the small personal loan, you could use the borrowed funds to get through the emergency and make repayments later.
Personal loans should only be used for emergency expenses. They’re not meant to help you recover your savings after overspending on video games — or worse, to help you make more video game purchases that you can’t afford.
Your video games could be pushing you to overspend without even realizing it. Watch out for these tricks and keep your finances intact.