There are plenty of accounts from dismayed parents about how they’re losing their kids to Fortnite, the wildly popular video game that’s consuming kids’ days, destroying some schools and spawning neighbourhood support groups. Less hyperbolic, but just as concerning, are the the reports from mums and dads who are losing actual cash because their young players made in-game purchases without them knowing.
Fortnite is a free game, but players have the opportunity to purchase upgraded skins, customised outfits for their avatars, special dance moves (sort of like touchdown celebrations), and other items using V-Bucks, the in-game currency that costs real money. These digital goods have zero impact on gameplay, but people are still amassing them in huge quantities – in the four days after the game launched on iOS, developer Epic Games grossed more than $US1.5 million ($1.9 million) in in-app purchases.
If you’ve decided to let your kids play Fortnite and don’t want any surprises on your credit card bill, you should talk to your kids about how “freemium” games are often designed to be addictive and lure players into spending their cash. And you should also disable in-app purchases on their consoles and devices. Here’s what to do on the systems that support Fortnite:
- Create a passkey to prevent unauthorised purchases and require it for making purchases.
- Don’t put credit card information in your kid’s account. If you want to let your kid buy a few things, you can buy them an Xbox gift card.
- Make sure you sign out every time you use the console if you are sharing it with your kid.
- Create a child account for your kid. The monthly spending limit will be set at zero by default.
- Select your account profile icon next to the search box, and then choose Settings.
- Under Purchase Sign-In, turn off “Streamline my purchase experience”. Doing so will make sure users are asked for a password every time they want to buy something.
- On the device, open Settings, select General and select Restrictions.
- Select the option to Enable Restrictions. Enter and re-enter a Restrictions passcode. (Make sure to choose a passcode that’s different from the one you use to unlock your device – your kid probably knows that one.)
- Disallow In-App Purchases for Fortnite, and any other apps you choose.
- If your child is over 13 and you are using Family Sharing, you can let your child request to make purchases with Ask to Buy.