Gone are the days when the joy of playing a game like Monopoly came from using fake money. Nowadays, everything from Minecraft and Roblox to FIFA has digital currencies that translate to real money. The worry is once your child starts buying in-game currencies, it can be easy to lose track of how much actual money is being spent. Here’s what you need to know about the 15 top in-game currencies.
What are in-game currencies?
In-game currency is the term given for any money used within a game to buy items, tools or unwrap player packs. It may be known as Gold, Points, Coins, or Credits. These currencies are how gaming companies monetise a game and are designed to push the player towards buying more and more.
Games and business models
Free to play (also known as freemium)
Don’t be fooled; free-to-play (F2P) may be a business model for online games in which players are not charged to play the games, but revenue comes from advertisements or in-game sales, such as payment for upgrades or special abilities, skins and items.
Gaming Subscriptions usually fall into two areas: individual game subscriptions and platform access like Nintendo Switch Online. They tend to be monthly or annually and offer more than one subscription tier. This allows the user to pick which subscriptions fit their needs and budget.
Popular games like Fortnite, Roblox, and Minecraft, also offer subscriptions across consoles, computers and mobile devices. These subscriptions allow players to get elevated status within the game, exclusive content, and in-game currency.
Five things you should know upfront
You can enjoy most games without paying
Free-to-play (F2P or FTP) video games give players access to a significant portion of their content without paying or do not require players to buy anything extra to play the game.
Loot boxes can be seen as gambling
Loot boxes are rewards within computer games that can be bought with virtual currencies or real-world money. The worry is that these boxes encourage gambling-like behaviour as they are a lucky dip game of chance. Players could get virtual weapons, unique digital “skins,” or you get something useless. A survey commissioned by Greenstone Research found that almost two-thirds of MPs showed concern about the gambling element of loot boxes and want greater game regulation in the UK.
If your child stops playing a game, unspent in-game currency is lost
If your child buys a lot of in-game currency and then deletes their account or chooses not to play anymore, the currency/money will be lost as you don’t get a real-world refund.
In-game currency scams
Ensure that your child knows that gaming scams happen online and offline. There will be sites offering in-game currencies for less (if it feels too good to be true, it’s a scam), loot boxes for less and emails asking for your password under the guise they are protecting your account. Make sure your child:
- Only uses official websites for any purchases related to the game (see below)..
- Does not respond to emails or direct messages asking for banking, financial, or personal information.
- Uses a strong password for the game login.
- Uses two-factor authentication when logging in.
- Shows you any messages or emails that ask for identification or money
You can monitor how much your child spends on in-game items and currencies
There are ways to monitor how much your child spends on in-game items. Firstly switch off in-app purchases on phones, consoles and devices, telling your child they have to ask before they buy anything.
Use parental controls – these will limit access to any credit cards associated with online game accounts. Set up an email on the device to flag purchases. This will keep you notified of every purchase made.
Use gift cards to make purchases rather than credit cards. This way, your credit card won't be associated with an account. Instead, buy gaming currency gift cards. Above all, take an interest in their games (even if you hate games). This way, you know what to talk to your child about with gaming costs.
- Using a prepaid debit card, like GoHenry on your child’s accounts can also help you monitor and limit how much they spend within games.
How do gamers get in-game currencies?
You'll need a debit or credit card or a gift card to buy in-game money. In-app purchasing also allows players to buy easily within games, which means you could find yourself with unexpected charges if you don't disable this function.
Most popular games that use in-game currencies:
Fortnite. V-Bucks is the currency used to purchase items like outfits, pickaxes, wraps, emotes, and Battle Passes on Minecraft. £10 buys you 1000 V-Bucks
Roblox. Robux buys you games within Roblox to play, premium servers for just you and your friends to play in, and purchase in-game bonuses and items to help you play. £10 will get you approx 800 Robux.
Minecraft. Mine coins buy you skins, texture packs, worlds, and more. You can get 1500 MineCoins for £10
World of Warcraft currency is known as Gold. The only way to legally buy Gold in World of Warcraft is through the WoW websites, so be wary of scam sites that offer the Gold for less.
Star Stable. You'll need Star Coins to do many things in Star Stable. They're used for buying horses and other pets, unique clothes and gear, and purchasing Stable Care. If you have a Star Rider subscription, you can receive Star Coins as a weekly allowance every week, and additional currency can be bought from the website. £30 will buy you 1000 coins.
War Thunder. Golden Eagles are the premium currency of War Thunder. They can be used to buy premium machines, faster crew development, and reserve aeroplanes. 100 Golden Eagles cost about 60p (although the minimum amount you can purchase is 150).
FIFA. In FIFA Ultimate Team™ there have always been two currencies. There are FIFA coins, which can be earned and received via rewards, then there are FIFA Points, which have to be bought and can be used for packs or drafts, which you can then turn into coins. You can earn FUT Coins in FIFA Ultimate Team™ (FUT) by playing matches and selling items from packs, but you should not buy coins from a third party as it is against FIFA rules and can get your account banned.
Destiny 2. Glimmer is helpful in almost every situation in Destiny 2, and it costs £10 for 1000, and you can use it to buy new ships, shaders, Ghost shells, sparrows and weapon mods.
Star Wars Battlefront II. Crystals and credits are the primary currency to buy hero and trooper appearances, victory poses and voiceovers. Credits are given by doing challenges, and Crystals can be purchased with real-world money. 500 Crystals for £3.99.
Apex Legends. 1000 Apex coins are £10 and buy players new cosmetic items for characters and weapons.
Overwatch. Credits can be used to buy skins, sprays, voice lines, emotes, and victory poses. The cost is approximately £10 for 1,000 coins.
Team Fortress 2. To buy items, you need to put funds in your player's Steam Wallet or add money via a Steam gift card. Items cost from £4.99.
DOTA 2 - Shards are the in-game currency earned by Dota Plus subscribers. They can be used to purchase exclusive rewards from the in-game Shard Shop. Prices start from £5.
Pokémon Go. PokéCoin can be used to buy Poké Balls to capture wild Pokémon, and skins for in-game avatars. You can only purchase coins from the in-game shop. 100 coins for £1.
- League of Legends. This game uses RP (Riot Points) which can be bought from the Riot Store or via a gift card. £10 will buy you 1380RP, which can buy you skins, crafting materials and more.
What can my child learn from using in-game currencies?
Currencies within games can make learning about finances fun for children. They can teach kids about spending and budgeting and instil good money-saving habits. Games can also help bring home messages about the value of money, the power of earning and financial responsibility.
What are the negative aspects of using in-game currencies?
In the midst of a game, most kids forget that in-game currencies are linked to real-world money. This means the thrill of new skin or items often leads them to spend more than they would in the real world.
Can you gift in-game currency?
You can gift in-game currencies with a gift card. For instance, a £10 gift card for Robux gives a player 800 Robux. £16.99 buys you 3500 Mine coins for Minecraft. All cards are digital downloads, so read the small print to see where the gift card can be used. Mostly:
- Purchases for Xbox are made in the Microsoft Store.
- Purchases for Playstation are made in the Playstation Store.
- Purchases for Nintendo Switch are made in the Nintendo Store.
- Purchases for iOS are made in the App Store.
- Purchases for Android are made in the Play Store.
- Purchases for computer games can vary, but they are often made on Steam.
How can GoHenry help with in-game currencies?
A GoHenry prepaid debit card for kids can help gamers learn how to spend and budget their money wisely. On the app, you can set up saving goals and weekly tasks for your child to earn with. You can also set spending limits and specify how much your child is allowed to spend on each transaction. This helps with rules around where they're allowed to use their card.
As your child can use their GoHenry card just like any other card to make purchases online, if you're keen to restrict online spending, you can disable online spending or help them spend wisely by setting single spend and weekly limits.
Money Missions on the GoHenry app can also help teach your child about all aspects of financial education, from budgeting to investing and spending, with quizzes and videos.