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Stop Kids Using Microtransactions: Tips For Parents

stop kids using microtransactions

Is your child a whale? That’s game developer speak for someone who spends exorbitant amounts of money on loot boxes or microtransactions. If they are, here’s how to stop it…

As a parent with children I’ve been caught out on more than one occasion with an unwelcome surprise lurking in my bank statement. But to stop kids using microtransactions or buying loot boxes is actually quite simple. And, it’s achievable on every popular gaming platform. There’s also a few different options to make this happen (including not entering your credit card details in the first place) but for continuities sake, I’ve outlined password protection methods for each platform.

Discover how game developers are coming under fire from governments for shady monetisation practices here.

How To Control Spending On Video Games By Platform

  • PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Web
  • Xbox One, S, X
  • Nintendo Switch
  • PC
Stop kids using microtransactions and buying loot boxes on playstation

PlayStation 3, 4, Pro and Web

If your child has a “Master Account” (which, let’s be honest, most
kids probably do) then restricting spending is a little different to if they
have a sub account.

Also, if your child has a master account and has a credit card already set up, (yours most likely) then you’re not eligible for a refund on any purchase. See Sony’s Store Cancellation Policy here.

If your child has a master account the easiest way to block spending is to set a password on your “Network Wallet”. This will prompt you for a password at the checkout before any purchases are processed. If they have a Sub Account, click here.

PlayStation 4 and Pro

  1. Sign into your account.
  2. Go to Settings > Account Management > Account Information.
  3. Select Wallet > Purchase Settings > Enter Sign-in Information if asked.
  4. Select Require Password at Checkout > select Yes from the drop down list.
  5. Select Confirm to save changes.

Playstation 3

  1. On the XMB, go to PlayStation™Network and sign in to your account.
  2. Select Account Management > Transaction Management.
  3. Select Transaction Management > select On from the drop down list.
  4. Select Confirm to save changes.

PlayStation Web

  1. Sign in to your PlayStation Network.
  2. In the Account section, select Payment Management.
  3. Under Payment Settings, turn on the option Require Password at Checkout.

PlayStation Sub Account

  1. Go to Settings > Parental Controls/Family Management > Family Management
  2. Select the user you want to set a spending limit for, then select Applications/Devices/Network Features under the Parental Controls section.
  3. Select Monthly Spending Limit and press X
Stop kids using microtransactions and buying loot boxes on Xbox

Xbox One, S, X

Stop kids using microtransactions and buying loot boxes on Xbox One, S and X models. The process is the same for each.

To help prevent unauthorized purchases from your console, you can set it to ask for a password every time you buy something.

  • Press the Xbox  button on the controller to open the guide, then select System  Settings  > Account > Sign-in, security & passkey. To help protect your account, you may be asked to enter your password.
  • Select Change my sign-in & security preferences.
  • Scroll right and select Customize.
  • Scroll right and select Ask for my passkey to make purchases.
  • Select Passkey required.
Stop kids using microtransactions and buying loot boxes on Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch

To stop kids using microtransactions and buying loot boxes on Nintendo Switch, parents should first create a new Nintendo Account for their children (in addition to the one set up for themselves) or supervise an existing Nintendo Account. After doing so, parents can directly manage their children’s restrictions by following these steps:

  1. Sign into your Nintendo Account on your internet browser of choice.
  2. Select “Family group.”
  3. Select the account for which you’d like to set limits.
  4. Select the setting you’d like to restrict.
    • Spending/purchases on Nintendo Switch eShop and nintendo.com” – select this setting and then check the box next to “To restrict this user’s spending/purchases on Nintendo Switch eShop and nintendo.com, check the box and then select ‘Save changes.’”
    • “Viewing of content on Nintendo Switch eShop” – select this setting and then check the box next to “To restrict this user’s viewing of content on Nintendo Switch eShop, check the box and then select ‘Save changes.’” If restricted, the Nintendo Switch eShop content the user can see will depend on their age and the relevant ESRB rating categories.
    • “Other settings” – select this setting to restrict “Friend suggestions” or “Services authorized to receive this account’s information.” These settings can also be set for services individually.
  5. After changing the settings, be sure to select “Save changes” to apply the restrictions for the child or supervised account. Please note that restrictions must be set individually for each child or supervised account.

NOTE: After checking the box to restrict purchases, children will have to get permission from parents to purchase new games and in-game content via the Nintendo eShop. Make sure you remember your PIN so you can authorize purchases in the future. The account holder will always receive an email when a purchase is made via the Nintendo eShop.

Stop kids using microtransactions and buying loot boxes on Steam

PC (Steam)

Considering Steam is the biggest seller of games on PC, the “prevent unwanted purchases method” will be aimed at Steam accounts.

This method requires “Family View” to be set up on the Steam Account in question. The user can select what features will be available to those using their account whilst in “Family View”

Family Vi

Family View

You can use Family View to limit an account’s access to a subset of its content and features. With Family View, access to the Steam Store, Library, Community, Friends content and other features may be gated by the entry of an secret PIN.

Setting up Family View

We encourage you to create a Steam account with your child. If there are features of Steam that you would like to exclude from the experience, you can restrict access using Family View. You may also choose to enable Family View on your own Steam account if you would rather they share your Steam Account.

To enable Family View:

  1. Log into the Steam account your child will use.
  2. Click the Steam menu in the top menu bar.
  3. Open the Settings option.
  4. Go to the “Family” tab on the left side of the window that opens.
  5. Click “Family View” to start the Family View wizard.
  6. Step through the wizard to select the content and features you’d like to be accessible while in PIN-protected Family View.
  7. Select and confirm your new PIN.

Family Games Library

If you’ve opted to only allow access to a subset of the account’s library, your account’s library will include a new group called Family Games. Family Games are the games you’ve chosen to remain accessible while in Family View.

In order to add and remove games from this list you first need to disable Family View:

  • Log into the account.
  • Select the Family View icon.
  • Enter your Family View PIN to exit Family View.

Then, you can authorize the game with one of two methods:

  • Find the game in your Library and right-click on the game and click “Add to / Remove from Family Games”.
  • Visit the Family tab within Settings and click “Family View” to run through the Family View wizard again. This will provide the option to add or remove games from your Family Games group. Once finished, to return to Family View select the Family View icon and confirm your choice. 

Changing Family View options

To modify your Family View options:

  1. First, log into the account.
  2. Select the Family View icon.
  3. Enter your Family View PIN to exit Family View.
  4. Open the Steam Settings menu.
  5. Go to the “Family” tab on the left side of the window that opens.
  6. Click “Family View” to start the Family View wizard again.
  7. Step through the Family View options wizard to select new content and features for Family Mode. You’ll also be asked to select a PIN, which you’re welcome to change or leave the same.

These methods are outlined in more detail on each platform’s respective websites. But, if you have any questions on how to stop kids using microtransactions, please let me know in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer you.

In Closing

If you like this article you might also like “Playing too many video games: how much is too much?”

By Izzy Davis | 2019

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