Mobile games are not as unassuming as they seem
Mobile games are quite popular around the world. This popularity is due to the entertainment that they offer and their convenient and inexpensive nature. Indeed, most mobile games can be acquired for free through various online sources, and those that have a price tag are generally very affordable. While these games have become a very powerful entertainment platform, as well as a very lucrative sector for the game industry as a whole, they are also quite dangerous.
The danger of mobile gaming is not embodied in what could be considered as traditional security threats. While hackers and malicious parties do sometimes target these games, they are not the most prominent problem facing the security of a person’s sensitive information. The actual problem may be much less imposing, taking the form of unsuspecting children that like to play games on their parents’ mobile devices.
Children between the ages of 10 and 16 are, perhaps, the biggest demographic for mobile games there is. These young consumers enjoy gaming and this is a well know fact for the game industry as a whole. Many mobile developers create games that are specifically meant to be addicting to young people. While these games have proven adept at providing hours upon hours of entertainment for young people, they are also home to advertisements that collect personal information. These games also tend to feature microtransactions — modest purchases for additional game content and new features.
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Microtransactions and advertisements represent a degree of threat
Microtransactions are somewhat unpopular in the gaming community, but most of the criticism that microtransactions receive have to do with their presence in console and PC gaming. Mobile games have become quite popular for microtransactions and they are relatively well received among consumers. The problem, however, is that many mobile games are designed to make microtransactions as simple as possible. In many cases, a game can access a user’s financial information immediately due to the fact that it has access to the information that is stored on a mobile device. It is not uncommon, therefore, for children to accidentally or purposefully make a purchase through a mobile game. While these purchases are relative modest, they can add up quickly, putting financial strain on a device owner.
Beyond microtransactions is the issue of advertising. Many advertisements that are featured on mobile games are designed to collect a person’s information. Even for those that are not interested in these advertisements, accidentally engaging in an ad is not uncommon. The majority of accidental engagement in these advertisements comes from children playing mobile games. For those concerned over the security of their information, these ads can be quite problematic.
On the surface, the potential dangers of mobile games can seem quite benign. Some of the world’s governments, however, consider the issue to be quite serious. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, for instance, has moved to place tighter regulations on mobile games that specifically target children. The agency suggests that a significant portion of these games are designed to deceive children and acquire personal information without consent.