What you need to know about online in game purchases

CANH helps you to understand what the costs associated with ‘loot boxes’ are and the implications they could have for the player.

Learn the language

'Loot boxes' have different names such as 'prize crates', 'booster packs’, skins, silver and keys; take some time to find out what these mean and what they cost.

Often these chests will contain virtual items that can assist a player’s progress in a game or provide items that will change the game cosmetically for the player.

This could be in-game costumes for the player's character or changes to the appearance of in-game items such as weapons or vehicles.

Some games provide loot boxes without the player needing to pay. This can be over a set period of time playing or logging into a game, or through virtual currency earned through play. There may also be an option to speed this process up through paying with real money.

Different games operate their loot boxes in different ways, so there is no one set format. They can be found in paid games or free to download games.

They can be found along the way in a game, as rewards, player endorsements or by subscribing to certain gaming sites.

There are different ways to pay for the loot boxes. Some loot boxes work through in-game currencies – you will have to accrue a certain amount before you can access the loot box.

Although these currencies are virtual and can often be earned through play they can also sometimes be purchased with real money.

It is important to check how you are paying for loot boxes, if the game or the console is connected to your bank account or credit card that is how these payments could be taken.

Checklist to reduce spending

Check if your bank card or credit card are linked to your game console, phone, tablet or game.

Monitor any spending on your card or account

Set spending limits or block your card so payments can only be made by inputting your details manually.

Set time limits 

This can help with time spent on the game but also reduce spending too.

Parental controls

If you are the parent or guardian of a gamer see if you can set controls to help play the game safely and reduce the risk of running up large bills.