In-app purchases: The good, the bad and the evil
In-app purchases are something we're all going to come across, here's the lowdown on what's good, and not so good
In-app purchases; a highly contentious topic of conversation, but something we have to accept. Developers want to get paid for their work — and rightly so — and for some the in-app purchase model is the chosen way to achieve that. Some folks will never believe they're anything other than evil tricks designed to get you to spend more money, but that isn't always the case.
As part of a continuing series looking at the ins and outs of Google Play we're examining the good, the bad, and the downright evil that comes with in-app purchases.
In-app purchases can be good. No, really. You just need to take stock of what you're being asked to pay for and why in order to decide this for yourselves. Thankfully Google helps us right from the word go. When you go to download an app — whether it be free or paid — the Play Store will tell you right there in the listing whether or not that app has in-app purchases. It doesn't sadly give you any indication of what those purchases might be, not unless the developer has written them into the app description.
The definition of "good" in-app purchases will vary from person to person. Generally speaking positive examples would be a free-trial version of an app with a purchase upgrade option to the full version, getting access to additional features in an app that will enhance your experience or monthly subscription fees for a service you're going to keep using. These use the in-app purchase model as we'd like to see it being used.
The word "freemium" is tossed around a lot these days, too. Mainly referring to games — Candy Crush Saga being one of the recent big names — where the initial download is free but you'll be required to cough up at some point in the game to keep playing. Again, assess your own feelings when presented with the situation. If you have to pay to progress, then it's probably a bad thing.
The bad and the evil
We've lumped these two categories together because it's sometimes difficult to properly distinguish. It can come in several different forms, but the best way to describe it is that you're constantly being pressured to buy something. It's something you need to watch out particularly if you've got kids that are playing games and using apps on your Android phone or tablet.
Be that a game from a major studio which requires you to pay just to unlock areas of the game to play, or to continue to progress without waiting an extreme amount of time, or a game designed for kids that hooks them in and then hits them with a paywall, it's all bad.
Our advice – especially where your kids are involved – is that you download the app, use it, and if you're not happy when you hit the first paywall, walk away. Developers deserve to get paid, absolutely, but sometimes a good user experience is a distant second to that.
Pro-tips to help you help yourself
- Read the Google Play Store reviews before you download an app with in-app purchases. Unless it's literally just hit the Play Store, those guys and gals who have gone before you will be sure to voice their displeasure if the in-app purchase situation isn't acceptable. Likewise, leave your own reviews afterwards to help out other folks.
- Password protect your account if anyone other than you will be using your device. If you leave your kids with unrestricted access to spend great piles of cash, they will.
- If you're into a game that keeps asking for payments, set yourself strict limits. Personally speaking I've spent a little money on Real Racing 3 because I enjoy it, but it's easy to get carried away.
- Don't assume because an app is free to download it's necessarily just after your wallet. Not all developers go overboard, but as soon as you feel uncomfortable, walk away.
There isn't really a right and wrong way to feel about in-app purchases. Everyone feels differently about spending their own money, and that's absolutely important to remember. If you don't like something, just walk away. Don't be pressured to spend anything you're not comfortable with.
For even more on in-app purchases, and Freemium games in particular, be sure to check out Mobile Nations' special coverage, Freemium Rising.
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1. they are 65p (around $1)
2. its not easy to design puzzle levels that ore not repetitive and relatively hard I truly belive that for the price of a chocolate bar it is worth forking out to have few hours of fun.... Another moderately good game for IAP is Major Maychem.... This game is loaded with IAP but all you need is coin doubler for £1.50 ( around $3).... again hours of play which I think dev deserves to be paid for.
Yet another is The Walking Dead Series.... Anything that uses two types of currency etc... is simply hack and send a nice email to developers with included photos....
For me, permanent is kind of an asset. When I purchase an app it is an asset that I can install on my phone, tablet, etc... as long as I have in that device the same Google account that I used to purchase the app. This is not exactly bad. It would be good, if you can trust it to work that way.
In contrast, in most games the In App purchase is an expense. You buy credits that get you more lives or whatever, but once you use it, it is gone. This is bad, but not so bad ig you know what you are doing. However when I purchased an In App upgrade for ROM Manager it was supposed to work similarly to an app purchase, but when I installed a new ROM (that is the purpose of the app) the upgrade was gone. The In App purchase was not recognized. I didn't know how to place a claim with Google and the author ignored my many emails. This is definitely beyond Evil, in the worst sense, because it made me believe that I was purchasing an asset, that resulted to be an expense. Bad behavior from Google and the author that failed to honor a return.
I don't trust In App purchase anymore. I just avoid any app having them as the plague.
No more support for that author.
The Evil:The Bad.
Just seems wrong to me, feels like they are trying to con you somehow ... Posted via Android Central App
- Ads removal.
- The Spotify subscription model.
- A donation request from the developer provided that the app has ABSOLUTELY NO ADS AND/OR LIMITED FUNCTIONALITY to begin with.
- The 'Clash of Clans' model (It's fun grinding your way to a decent base without having to cough up real dough for gems.) The "Bad" IAP:
- Everything Ubisoft/EA touch. (It's especially insulting considering console and PC games from both companies can thrive and give them money WITHOUT resorting to abusive and mandatory IAP systems.)
- Timed trials of apps that will just stop working altogether unless you pay up.
- Games that require a payment for more levels. (You might as well have released the game as a PAID service to begin with!) The "WTH" IAP
- Podcast apps on Android (paid, or ad-removal IAP)
(Pocket Casts and Doggcatcher are very good podcast utilities, but C'mon. Every iOS device has it out of the box. Every phone that will be updated to Windows Phone 8.1 will have it natively. Android users should NOT feel that they have to purchase apps (it be outright, or ad-removal IAP) for a service that every smartphone user else can enjoy for free.)
I am ok with that kind of IAP. For the podcast app I have BeyondPod and I can use it for free just fine but they had a couple features that charged one time for so I opted to pay them or those features and very satisfied with that purchase. The other thing you have to remember is that some apps need updating or maintenance. There is very little incentive for an app developer to maintain an app if they aren't going to make anymore money on it. That is why I like what swiftkey did. They went to an IAP model to continue to make money but it's not required to give them any money if you don't want.