If you’ve spent any time playing games on a mobile device you may have encountered un-anticipated in-app purchases as the only conceivable way to continue playing a certain game. You might run out of lives or want to unlock pieces of content and all you have to do is “insert quarters to continue”. Thankfully Apple has taken steps to mitigate some of these frustrations.
No Free Launch
The first helpful move in the mobile game world was no longer allowing a company to claim their game was free if it had any in-app purchases. Granted some games don’t force you to spend money and give you legitimate ways to play the game. So if a game offers shortcuts or extra in-game currency and you feel like shelling out the green, that is totally acceptable. But too often games claim to be free while placing constant hurtles in the way of progressing in order to motivate purchasing. And some games make progressing such a slow climb that it only functions at a reasonable pace if you spend money. So while some games that offer a moderate amount of in-app purchases might get passed over because of the new warnings, the majority of these games are now appropriately labeled.
Take My Money and Shut up
The second and more recent move made specifically by Apple continues to help users get access to games without being pestered by in-app purchases or having to worry that their kid will buy hundreds of pounds of virtual dog food. They created a new category: Pay Once & Play. This will do a few things to improve the mobile game landscape. First, it will drive up the initial cost of games. Why is this good? Well for starters it’s going to increase margins for game companies that actually create high quality games which will enable them to launch future titles and content. Second, it will increase the amount of free demos. This is good because it allows more “try before you buy” which in turn motivates game companies to increase quality, innovation, and the fun factor. And lastly, it empowers the consumer to more confidently spend their money. Thankfully I have never gone through this, but some have expressed irritation at games that have an initial cost and then also have in-app purchase hurtles. It’s one thing to offer a free game and then try to squeeze money out of players. But it is completely different to charge a fee on the outset and then hold game progression hostage behind a pay wall.
If you enjoy mobile gaming and spend money on it with any regularity, the best thing to do is support games that offer “pay once & play”. The more popular games get with this model, the more other companies will follow suit. It is easy to see the most popular games, but also which games are the “top grossing”. Unfortunately, right now that list is dominated by too many games that are essentially “keep paying to keep playing” with constant motivation for micro-spending. So spend and play wisely!
Some “Pay Once & Play” recommendations:
– XCOM: Enemy Within
– Monument Valley
– Kingdom Rush