UK kids are most likely to make in-game purchases, but only 4% spend on loot boxes

Ipsos’ latest report for Video Games Europe finds in-game spending among children is highest in the UK

UK kids are most likely to make in-game purchases, but only 4% spend on loot boxes

In-app purchases are a dominant monetisation method in mobile games but do receive some flak from players when prices get out of line - especially in games played by children.

Pokémon Unite charging $40 per skin has caused some backlash, as did Mario Kart Tour’s $40 Diddy Kong Pack before the game's overhaul. Regardless, in-app purchases remain commonplace, and many parents have taken it upon themselves to better vet and discuss in-game spending with their children.

A new report by Ipsos for Video Games Europe has revealed some intriguing stats and trends around children’s in-game spending and parents’ supervision over it. A good topline figure is that right now 89% of parents are actively monitoring this form of spending. Among children who do spend money in-game, the amount they spend has increased by an average €6 per month compared to 2020.

As the fourth edition of the report, there is useful context around potential changes in perception regarding in-game spending, however Ipsos’ samples and methodology changed in 2020, meaning comparisons between now and the late 2010s may not be entirely accurate.

Respondents in the new study were all over 18 and the parents or guardians of children who play games, with a total sample size of 2,808 - almost triple the 962 participants in the first study back in 2018.

In-game spending stats

Most children don’t engage with - or aren’t even aware of - in-game spending. Only 24% having spent real money, with 9% doing so for in-game currency. An even smaller number spend on loot boxes - less than 4% - meaning mobile gachas must be making the bulk of their bucks from adult gamers.

Rather, children tend to spend to "impact gameplay", or for in-game cosmetics and decorations, if they spend at all. 64% of those who do spend fork up between €1 and €20 on average per month, and 23% of them have an explicit agreement with their parents as to how much they’re allowed to pay into games. 38% don’t have a hard limit to follow but must ask their parents’ permission for each purchase made.

The number of children making in-game purchases has actually decreased since 2020, if only marginally. At the time, 26% of parents reported that their children spent real money in games, whereas the number now lands at 24%. Both are a major decrease from 2018, when 47% of children had spent money in-game.

The UK gets monetised

Today, more children in the UK spend money than those from any other country in the survey, representing 21% of the total. Children from Germany come second at 19%, followed by French children at 18%.

Perhaps surprisingly, it is also the UK where most children have an agreement with their parents about in-game spending - yet they continue to be the most prevalent spenders. 83% of UK children have an agreement with their parents on spending, where only 76% do in France and Germany. This figure gets even lower in Spain at 65%, and yet far fewer Spanish children (17%) are choosing to spend money in games anyway.

Ipsos’ full report explores why most parents don’t implement parental control features as a spend-curbing tool.

While in-game spending may be falling among children, Tenjin’s recent report found that such purchases are on the rise overall, observing a 23.5% increase in player spending in the first half of 2023.

News Editor

Aaron is the News Editor at and has an honours degree in Creative Writing.
Having spent far too many hours playing Pokémon, he's now on a quest to be the very best like no one ever putting words in the right order.