In-App Panhandling is a Pain in the Tits

I’m getting to hate the current trend for “in-app purchases”.

Case in point. Last night I went to buy a game from an author whose work I’ve previously enjoyed and who up until now I would happily buy sight unseen. Go to the app store, it’s tier 1, don’t even think of reading the full app description as I know it’ll be fun. Buy, download, have a fool around with it – there’s 4 open modes and a bunch more to unlock. I wonder what you have to do to unlock the rest – presumably do well in the first few levels, after all that’s how games work.

But no. The answer turns out to be pay another two quid.

At this point I am rather annoyed because basically what has just happened is that I’ve been charged tier 1 for a fucking demo version.

I can see IAP being valid as a method of converting a demo version to a full version, that’s fair enough. But it seems a lot of devs these days are using it as a way to constantly nickel-and-dime more money out of players throughout the game, and that’s bloody annoying. There was even a case recently of someone who posted in our forum to pimp his game and in the course of discussion it emerged that in that game you actually have to pay to use the smart bombs. Not only that but the smart bombs are consumable and you run out and have to pay again for more if you want them. That’s just unnecessary.

I can just about see IAP being valid to sell more levels for a game, but only if it’s not done in such a way that there’s basically a shit small set of levels in the game that have you bumping up against the next IAP point in only a few hours. If I were to think about paying for more game levels it’d only be if I had had a good, long and satisfying game with the levels I’d originally paid for. And the level pack had better be damned good and last a long while.

However a lot of the time it seems to be being used to break up what should be a well rounded and complete game into bits and pieces that must all be paid for separately. When I design a game I design it as a complete entity, with all the levels and difficulty modes included, and where stuff is locked it can be unlocked through the course of normal gameplay as God and Nature intended. The purpose of the game design is to create something that users will get a lot of fun out of and keep them entertained for a good while, and leave them feeling like it was worth the tier 2 they paid for it.

Splitting up a game with IAP toll points strikes me as being a completely different exercise – basically creating a structure deliberately designed to halt the player’s smooth progress through the game so as to stick out the begging bowl again and again. That’s rubbish, as is leaving out bits that should be an integral part of a game’s design such as levels and difficulty levels and demanding extra for them.

By all means if you think your game’s worth more than tier 1 then ask for more. If it’s a good game you’ll probably get it, and maybe if more people did that then we’d finally see a move away from the stupidly low prices people expect on the app store. But don’t break up what should be a complete game design and annoy the player into purchasing the various component parts piecemeal. Just ask for the full price up front and be done with it. Hiding your higher price that way is an annoying pain in the tits. And don’t sell me a fucking demo version.

Anything but the most basic use of IAP to upgrade from a demo to a full version will definitely be a cause to not buy and not recommend a game from now on for me, along with not providing a Universal version. Smeg to that.

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