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How free video games can cost parents hundreds of dollars

Expensive 'microtransactions' add up fast
Posted: 11:42 AM, Feb 12, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-12 18:42:20Z

If you have kids between 4 and 14, it probably seems like they always want a new video game.

Many times they'll say, "But mom, it's free!"

But caution: That free game can end up very costly, because of a catch many parents don't quite understand.

The days of just driving Mario Kart, or playing Nintendo's Wii are gone. Today's kids want live online games, like Fortnite, and costs add up fast.

Reuters calls Fortnite "free to play but expensive to love." That's because of in-app purchases called microtransactions.

A new “skin” on your player will cost $10. A Battle Pass is another $10 (and every kid needs a Battle Pass).

Soon it's $50, $75, then hundreds of dollars billed to mom's or dad's credit card.

Costs add up fast

So from the "doesn't that stink" file, how gaming can cost a family thousands.

  • Gaming console: $400.
  • Dedicated TV for gaming console: $500
  • Playstation Plus or Xbox Live: $50 a year.
  • Paid games, like Madden Football: $60 each.
  • "Free" games with microtransactions: $200 or more.

Some families are paying $2,000 a year or more for gaming. Doesn't that stink?

Forbes Magazine suggests getting the kids to cut back on their in-game purchases, or requiring them to earn them. Some families purchase pre-paid debit cards, and the kids have to earn money to load onto the card.

Or try Microsoft's Xbox Games Pass, with dozens of games, like Halo, for $10 a month and no extra fees.

Bottom line: Do some research before you link a credit card or Pay Pal account to any free game, so the costs don't run up fast, and so you don't waste your money.

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