On Christmas Day this year, countless new Xboxes and PlayStations will get booted up around the country. The days of waiting for Stephen’s Day to wandering into Gamesworld (now GameStop) and buy some games are long gone as you can download games straight to the console from their respective stores. To do this, parents load their debit or credit card details onto the console but often ignore the parental controls that are available. In this article, I’m going to show you why you really shouldn’t ignore these parental controls and give you a great tip to avoid this problem altogether.
DLC: The Danger of Card Details on a Console
Games have become incredibly expensive, but I’m not just talking about the €70 you have to pay for new releases. When you consider the hours of entertainment they give, that’s actually a fair price for a game. The expensive element appears with DLC. DLC, or downloadable content, is extra content you can download to improve the game you own or even expand its playability. DLC can be costumes, characters, weapons, levels or even whole other versions. While some DLC is free, the really good stuff will likely cost you.
Star Wars Battlefront II: The Dark Side of DLC
Electronic Arts released Star Wars Battlefront II this year with a game that built upon the problems of the first. Top-tier characters like Luke Skywalker would take over 40-hours of gameplay to unlock unless of course, you’re willing to pay and fast-track the unlocking process.
This pay-to-play approach to gaming has become increasingly present in the games industry with long-term hits like Call of Duty and FIFA offering a huge range of premium upgrades. The first problem with premium upgrades is keeping the game fair for those who just want to play online after paying €70 for a game. The second problem, as one Cork family just found out, is putting the payment details on your kid’s games console.
Kid Spends Mother’s Wages on FIFA DLC
From the outset, this isn’t a funny story; it sucks. A Cork mother told Cork’s 96FM about how her wages were spent on FIFA 18 DLC. After downloading the game, her details were left on the console where her son could then use to buy premium DLC. I can only imagine this was FIFA Ultimate Team which is very similar to those collectable stickers that still appear on the market every year. Anyone who’s collected those stickers knows how tempting it is to keep buying packs to get the players you want so the kid wasn’t long getting through his mother’s wages.
Sony has told the woman there’s little can be done but I doubt it’ll end there. Apparently, Sony’s defense was that the game is for adults. This is either not true or very weird from the gaming giant given the game has a PEGI 3 rating: suitable for all ages. There’s also a small bit of precident set by Microsoft.
Not too long ago, Microsoft had a similar experience where a kid ran up a €7,000 bill on his father’s credit card when buying premium DLC. Microsoft refunded that customer so I’d be shocked if Sony didn’t try and work out something.
How to Avoid Putting Your Credit Card on a Games Console
Buying games and DLC on a games console isn’t a bad thing. You can also set up automatical renewals for membership and often get pretty good deals too. However, putting your credit card details onto your kid’s games console is a dangerous idea. How many times do you have to say no to them asking for something? If it’s quite often, by putting your card onto their Xbox or PlayStation, you’re saying yes everytime they want a game.
While parental controls are a good idea, they can be tough to work out if you’re not familiar with consoles. Thankfully, there is a much easier way.
Get a Revolut Account
Just like game shops are fast becoming a thing of the past, so too are traditional banks. While the likes of KBC are staying ahead of the curve when it comes to tech, there are some really interesting alternatives emerging for Irish customers. In the past, we were mightily impressed by N26, but a new account from Revolut is packed full of benefits. I’m not going to go into them all here, but once you set up an account you immediately have the option of a virtual card.
The first benefit for parents buying things on their kid’s console is that you can top-up that virtual card, limiting the amount of money they have available to them. Secondly, if you don’t want them spending anything at all, you can actually freeze and unfreeze the card through Revolut’s app, making the details on your kid’s console completely useless until you want them to work again.
The only catch with Revolut right now is that it’s in big demand. It might take a few days to get your account approved, so you might want to get cracking already.
I’ll be back soon with a full review of Revolut, but in the meantime, if you’re setting up your kids console this Christmas, be sensible about what you do with your debit or credit card details. Games are designed to squeeze money out of people, whether they can afford it or not.