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How to Avoid Overspending on Gaming Apps

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Billions of smartphone owners use their devices to play games. It is a fun and generally inexpensive hobby. However, gaming revenue is increasing. Nearly a quarter of game developers use in-app purchases, also known as microtransactions, to let players spend real money on everything from new outfits for their avatar to extra lives. BBB has tips to help you understand and manage in-app purchases when playing mobile games.

How to navigate in-app purchases on mobile games:

• Be aware that some “free” apps may offer in-app purchases. Some game apps are technically free, but not making in-app purchases could prevent you from fully enjoying the game. The game may set time limits when players’ lives replenish or when you can access new levels or items, unless you’re willing to pay a small fee. The game is sometimes filled with ads, unless you pay for the ad-free version. In other cases, apps offer cosmetic upgrades for a fee. These “skins” improve the aesthetics of the game but do not technically affect the way the game is played. Some of these income-generating techniques are controversial, especially when they target children.

• Check out paid apps without in-app purchases. You might pay more up front, but the ability to play forever without in-app purchases using your credit card is usually cheaper in the long run.

• Search for an application before downloading it. Sometimes even paid apps offer in-app purchases while you play. App stores usually tell you in advance if an app offers in-app purchases on the description page. However, research how many games you can play without paying and how many in-app purchases will affect how you (or your kids) play the game.

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