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We’ve worked with HSBC UK to help you understand costs, set spending budgets and avoid scams in video games.

Understanding Costs

It’s important to go in with your eyes open. Like films, music and television, video games are usually designed to offer an enjoyable or compelling experience to make a profit. We pay for these games in a wide variety of ways:
  • One-off Cost: Pay upfront for the game.
  • In-Game Purchases: Get the game for free, then purchase more items, levels or outfits through lots of small transactions.
  • In-Game Loot Boxes: Get the game for free, then purchase a chance of getting a rare item, like football stickers or blind bag Lego Minifigures.
  • In Game Passes: Pay to access exclusive content for a set period of time.
  • In-Game Advertising: Adverts are used to unlock additional content and progress in the game. These are not tied to the age rating and may include older-rated content.
  • Tradable Items: Some games reward you with items that can be traded with others in the game. Other games offer items that can then be traded in unofficial third-party sites. Some of these are gambling sites you have to be 18 years old to use.
  • Game Subscriptions: Pay a monthly or yearly subscription to access games.
Each of the game pages on the database provides a Cost section that communicates exactly what the costs of playing the game are likely to be. This includes details about less obvious costs through in-game purchases and also assesses whether these items are optional or crucial to enjoy the game.

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Setting Budgets

You might think once the game’s been bought or downloaded, that’s all there is to pay. In fact, many games are free to download because they then offer in-game purchases that can bump up costs while your child is playing. This might mean the game asks for more money at frequent intervals or key moments in the game, and, if it’s your card details being used, you might see regular small transactions in your bank account.

HSBC UK has created a set of resources to help with this:

Avoiding Scams

With online gaming, streaming and social media, it’s not unusual to be contacted by people you don’t know. Maybe they want to team up for a co-op campaign, or even collaborate on their new streaming platform. But it can be hard to know which people are legitimate. Identity theft, money muling and account fraud do occasionally crop up in the gaming world. Here’s what you can do to stay safe while enjoying your gaming.

HSBC UK has created a set of resources to help with this:

Talking It Over

While some of these things can sound alarming, with your system set up correctly and a PIN specified you can minimise any risk. Still, it’s important not to just lock things down without talking to your children. Having a conversation with them about the benefits and pitfalls of gaming enables you to set healthy guardrails together. HSBC UK created this video to engage younger children and school groups with the topic.

Resources like this create a context where you can openly talk about how to get the most out of video games. This ensures that if something unexpected or unsettling happens in a game your child is playing they are much more likely to tell you about it, rather than keeping things secret for fear of losing access to their game.

For more information visit the HSBC UK Smart Gaming Hub.
Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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