Privacy challenges in video games

How are video games a threat to online privacy?

6 Mins Read

PUREVPNHow are video games a threat to online privacy?

With 2.96 billion game titles estimated worldwide in 2021, gaming has invaded our lives for good, as the global headcount of gamers across PCs, consoles, tablets, and smartphones is predicted to reach 3.32 billion by 2024. So, are video games watching your every move when you play online? It’s a question worth asking because your online privacy might be at risk.

Think about it: When you’re gaming online, you might not realize that the games are designed in a way that invades your privacy. Some of them ask for access to your webcam or microphone, and that’s just the beginning. Moreover, some gaming companies are in the business of selling the information they gather about you to advertisers or simply collecting data for their own purposes such as in-game improvements, targeted ads and others.

But here’s the kicker – how can you be sure that your data is safe on their servers? There have been data breaches in the past that exposed sensitive information.

You might be okay with sharing some data with a company, but when this information is pieced together, it creates a detailed profile of your habits and personality. Advertisers might use this to immerse you with targeted ads or it could fall into the wrong hands through a data breach – putting your identity at risk.

In this article, we’re going to shed light on the concerns surrounding online gaming privacy. And don’t worry, we won’t leave you hanging. We’ve got a list of steps you can take to reduce the chances of becoming a victim of privacy invasion in the world of video games. 

Virtual economies and the online video gaming ecosystem

Let’s talk about the fascinating world of virtual economies in online video gaming. You see, some gamers are incredibly competitive and are always on the hunt for in-game advantages. This quest for dominance has given birth to an unusual kind of economy – one that’s not controlled by the game’s creators. Instead, it’s driven by the real-world principles of supply and demand, and real money is involved.

Here’s where things get interesting. Some players are so determined to get ahead that they’ve created an alternative economy. This one isn’t controlled by the game’s creators but by the players themselves. They buy, sell, and trade in-game items and currency for real money. Imagine selling a virtual sword or a pile of gold coins for hundreds or even thousands of real dollars. The price depends on how rare and in-demand the item is.

Sounds cool, right? Well, here’s the twist. This alternative virtual economy isn’t all fun and games. The lure of real money has attracted some not-so-nice characters – hackers and cybercriminals – who see online gaming platforms and their users as tempting targets. So, while there’s excitement and opportunity in this virtual world, there’s also a darker side to watch out for.

Personal information and video gaming

In the quest to make multiplayer video gaming experiences better, companies often need, and collect quite a bit of personal data from gamers. Sometimes, they even rely on this data to keep the gaming network running smoothly and to facilitate interactions between players. Plus, it’s not uncommon for your gaming profile to be linked to broader online social networks.

Now, while racking up points and unlocking new levels is what most games are all about, don’t let privacy be an afterthought. It’s crucial to be mindful of how information is gathered, shared, and used within the video gaming community.

So, what kind of personal information do these gaming companies scoop up during online play? Well, it’s a hefty list that includes names, addresses, credit card details (for those in-game purchases), email addresses, IP addresses, digital images, and personalized profiles. 

Now, you might wonder why on earth they need all this info. The answer is simple. To access gaming services and create an online account. And if you’re making in-game purchases, they’ll want your payment info too. Sometimes, they automatically collect geographical info to make sure you’re connected to the closest server and playing with folks in the same time zone.

Here’s a tip: Consider creating a separate email address just for gaming. This way, if a gaming service ever uses your info inappropriately, you’ll catch it right away. If that gaming-only email gets a message, you’ll know who shared your info without permission. It’s a nifty way to keep tabs on your privacy while enjoying your favorite games.

Trade offs of privacy controls and settings

When it comes to privacy controls in gaming, the options can vary a lot. It all depends on the gaming platform, the companies involved, and the specific features of the game itself.

For simple, single-player games, the data collection might be limited or extensive, especially if they want to show you ads while you play.

In larger multiplayer worlds, they might need more of your personal info, like how you like to chat with other players. But on the flip side, some games let you play fairly anonymously with just a quick sign-up using a username, password, and email.

Now, if you go for stricter privacy settings, you’ll be super secure, but it might limit your multiplayer and social gaming experiences. That’s why many gamers opt for less strict settings.

Also, keep an eye out for games that ask for access to your camera, microphone, or location data. It might make sense while you’re playing, but you should always have the option to turn off access when you’re not in the game. Your privacy matters, even in the gaming world.

Dark side of video gaming

Behind the fun experience video gaming provides, it goes largely unnoticed that modern game devices pose a serious threat to consumer privacy. According to a research, video games tend to collect data for illegitimate surveillance and user profiling. 

Gamers face a slew of data-related dangers that can seriously impact their online experiences.

One common issue is missing game products, accounts, or even being held hostage for ransom. Imagine spending real-world money and countless hours in a game to obtain something valuable, only to have it disappear or be stolen. Hackers often snatch virtual items and can trade them for cash or sell your personal information on the dark web.

Gamers can also get caught in a web of trouble when they opt for cheaper game downloads, unknowingly opening the door to viruses and malware. Falling for phishing emails, becoming targets of cyberbullies, facing threats like cross-site scripting (XSS) due to insecure login methods, and using the same usernames and passwords across all gaming platforms can leave your credentials vulnerable to hackers. 

Read more: Gaming world on high alert: Game hackers exploit Microsoft-signed rootkit

How to improve your video gaming privacy

To safeguard your online gaming privacy, it’s crucial to have a secure gaming account. In order to keep yourself safe from the risks of online gaming, it’s crucial to practice good cyber hygiene. Here are some smart precautions to take:

  1. Start by using strong, unique passwords for your gaming accounts and enable multi-factor authentication whenever possible to add an extra layer of security.
  2. Customize your privacy settings to strike a balance between protection and convenience, limiting the information you share.
  3. Avoid disclosing sensitive details like your home address, school, or workplace. 
  4. If the game’s terms allow, consider using a pseudonym or nickname. Also, be cautious about using the same profile name across multiple platforms to minimize the risk of identification.
  5. Exercise caution when clicking on links shared within in-game chats, especially if you don’t know the other player in real life. Some links could be phishing attempts aiming to compromise your security.
  6. Avoid linking credit/debit card details to gaming accounts unless necessary.

Read more: How to safeguard your gameplay from cyber attacks gaming

Utilize a trusted VPN 

Adding an extra layer of protection to your video gaming privacy is as simple as using a reputable VPN service. Consider PureVPN, known for its strong security and privacy features. A VPN shields your data from potential eavesdroppers, ensuring that your video gaming sessions remain secure. It also keeps your personal information confidential. By encrypting your online communications, PureVPN helps you stay safe from prying eyes, enhancing your video gaming experience with peace of mind.

Read more: Are game prices too steep? Unshackle gaming with PureVPN


In the ever-evolving world of online gaming, where virtual realms and real-life data intersect, the need for vigilance and proactive privacy measures has never been more evident. 

As gaming continues to transcend borders, bringing together millions of players, it also attracts the attention of cybercriminals seeking to exploit vulnerabilities and compromise personal information. From hacked accounts and data leaks to the shadowy economies of virtual goods trading, the risks are diverse and potentially costly. 

However, by taking proactive steps such as using strong, unique passwords, enabling multi-factor authentication, and employing trustworthy VPN services like PureVPN, gamers can fortify their defenses against these threats, ensuring their online experiences remain secure and enjoyable.

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