Newzoo predict that mobile gaming will account for over 50% of the global games market by the end of 2018. And it’s not just the kids playing mobile games: a recent study found that 78% of the 193 million mobile gamers in the US were adults over 24 years old.
More surprisingly, 23% of the mobile gamers in the US are 65 years old or older. Of course, there is a possibility that some of that percentage is actually kids using their grandparents’ phones, but it’s a significant share of the market nonetheless. For many reasons including these, the safety of online gaming has come under scrutiny of late, and it is better to be aware of the dangers so that all ages can play safely. This piece will identify some of the dangers to look out for and share some valuable tips on staying safe while gaming online.
Free games and services are always enticing. But what are the hidden costs? Free apps will often have in-app purchases. If you’re not aware of the cost implications, or if a child is playing on a mobile connected to an adult’s credit card, a lot of money can be spent. Most of these transactions will not require a password or pin. These in-app purchases can accumulate and make a dent on your bank account, without you realizing it.
In-app purchase tip
If your mobile device has the ability, consider pin-protecting or disabling in-app purchases.
Malware and scareware
Malware and scareware are two of the biggest dangers for online gaming, and mobile gaming in particular. Free mobile games will generally make their income from adverts, so it’s common for Malware to be disguised as an advertisement. These fake adverts often warn of impending security dangers and provide links that require payment. Malware can steal, amongst other things, your personal information, passwords, and credit card details.
Scareware will show fake messages of impending virus infestations or threats to your device. You’ll then be encouraged to download an anti-virus blocker or pay for device protection. While the consequences of falling for a scareware ad are typically less severe than malware, it still presents a serious danger to kids or older people who may be unfamiliar with such scams, and result in unnecessary cost.
Malware and scareware tip
Keep your anti-virus software up to date and switched on at all times and run regularly-scheduled scans on your device. If you click on an advert, and it asks you to enter personal or credit card details, there is a high chance that it is malware or scareware.
Fake apps and website decoys
Over the past three years, there has been an increase of fake apps appearing with the same name as well-known online games. On mobile this is particularly dangerous as some of these fake apps allow attackers to control your device remotely. Popular games such as Minecraft, Pokemon Go, and Plants vs Zombies 2 have all been targeted by fake apps on the Google Store. These fake apps contain malware and scareware. Some malware can run in the background while you play the game.
There is still a lot of risk associated with free-to-play online games. In 2017, there was a three week campaign that used casino websites as a decoy to infect users with malware. Adverts would redirect to three casino websites. These websites then silently infected users with malware.
Fake app and website decoy tip
Avoid online casino scams altogether by downloading a whitelabel, free mobile casino app such as the Rivers Casino app. When downloading an app, look at the developer’s name. If it’s not a company you recognise, there is a chance it could be fake.
Despite the dangers listed in this article, there are a host of trusted apps available on Google Play and Apple App Store. Always protect your device and your personal information. Run regular virus scans and ensure your systems are up to date. If your nephew wants to play games on your phone, remember to ensure that in-app purchases are disabled.