How Much Have You Spent on Free-to-Play Games?

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The gaming market is riddled with “free-to-play” games that are supposed to be completely free. How do they make money, then? You’d think that it would be by ad-revenue, but think again – it’s actually via microtransactions.

Take a look at this Quora page where a user asks, “How do I stop spending on games?” and most of the responses are from people who have had spending problems in the past. One user claims they’ve spent $1.600 (which one can only assume is $1,600) on World of Tanks, a popular mobile game that’s supposed to be free.

Another user notes that they’ve spent over $300 in a month on “shiny new units” which is a term used to refer to characters or fighters that you can acquire with in-game currency (that is purchased with real money). The amount is so high because the method they are obtained in is through random draws that may or may not yield higher quality units. “I have really good luck in draws…” the user claims, so he convinced himself to spend more and more until it was too late.  

Sounds a bit like a gambling addiction, doesn’t it? That’s why spending habits in “free-to-play” games need to be closely monitored, because the next thing you know, you’ve spent hundreds, even thousands, without even realizing it.

Crunch the Numbers

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Are you spending too much money on microtransactions in free-to-play games? If you’re unsure of how much money you’re actually spending on these games, it’s time to track your spending. Credit counseling agencies like recommend using budgeting tools in order to get a sense of your spending habits and find ways to work on them.

Take some time to sit down and go over all of your income and expenses. How much is coming in and what is it being spent on? Either use a helpful spreadsheet or make a list that looks like this:

  • Income after taxes
    • Utilities
    • Food
    • Entertainment
    • Transportation
    • Education
    • Savings

Add any other spending categories that you need to. Gaming should have its own subsection under entertainment. From there, minus all of your monthly expenditures from your income – are you in the negative? 

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If so, this means that you are spending more than you’re earning, which will inevitably lead you to debt (if you aren’t already). Even if you’re not in the negative, it’s important that you take a good look at how much you are spending on gaming. Is it more than you expected?

Remember that small purchases here or there can quickly add up, especially when you’re making them with a credit card. If you’re finding that you’re spending way too much on microtransactions then you want to, then it’s time to make a change.

One way to do so is by setting a budget where you have a set amount that you’re willing to spend on gaming each month. Every time you make an in-game purchase, make sure you’re tracking that, that way you don’t go over.

The other way is to simply cut your losses and remove the game that’s costing you all-together. While hard to do, it may be the only option for people who simply can’t control themselves.