Pop-ups and advertisements in mobile games is nothing new. It has indeed become worse in recent years, but the mobile gaming market isn't that great across the board. The bad actors have a variety of different ways to try and get people, and sometimes especially kids, to drop money in their title. Sometimes it's an abrupt ad that shows itself every time you start a game. Or sometimes it's a limited number of tries before you run out of lives and have to wait for a timer to let you play again. Or you can just drop some real world money to play again right then and there.
And some games have all of those things, and more, baked in.
I'm just going to come out and say right now that I don't have anything against the timer method. Not inherently, anyway. It can definitely be used pretty aggressively, but when that isn't the case I feel like it works pretty well. Especially for kids who can't spend real money to keep playing. "You can play until you run out of hearts" in a game is a nice and easy way to set a timer. (Unless the kid is very, very good at the game. Then it could be an issue.)
However, the grind is still there. In-app purchases are not going anywhere anytime soon, and for good reason. It's a lucrative business. And they even make sense in a free game. The titles that charge an up-front fee but then block content in the game behind microtransactions is annoying. (This is especially true for $60+ console games.)
I'm sure you've heard of someone, maybe you know them personally or through anecdotal stories, that has paid more in in-app purchases than they would have for the game itself, even if it did cost upwards of $60 or more. I know people who have paid hundreds of dollars in Fortnite, for instance. (Some of the costumes, emotes, and dances are just too good to pass up. So glad I stopped playing that game.) And mobile titles like Candy Crush and Clash of Clans have raked in money over the years with their in-app purchases.
I haven't been completely immune to this, either. I've spent my fair share of money in a moment of weakness. I don't think I've ever done it to extend playtime, but I know that it's been to buy virtual currency to get something in the game. I've learned that if a game's tactics are too aggressive in this department to just uninstall it and move on.
Of course, what is aggressive and what isn't is completely dependent upon the individual.
But, I'm curious. Do you set a budget for in-app purchases, or buying mobile games in general? We spend quite a bit of money for our smartphones these days, so do you try to limit how much you spend in the games you play on those devices? Or do you refuse to buy anything through microtransactions? Let me know!