What is the problem behind in-app purchases?
I can’t say that I like titles as interrogative sentences, but then again, I do a lot of other things that I don’t like, like spending money on “In-App Purchases”. This is only a dollar, so what’s the problem anyway, right? Well, I’m going straight to the topic.
Let’s start with a rough definition of in-app purchases for those who are not familiar with this term (not sure if there is anyone living in a cave). An in-app purchase refers to items, services, points, coins, anything valuable in-game that a player can purchase. I myself see this “anything valuable” in 2 categories.
The first is anything that affects your gameplay, or anything that gives you different kinds of advantages over all other players or monsters. Let’s say there are 2 types of currencies in the game and one of these currencies is extremely hard to get, or you only get it once a day or limited in some way. The game offers you this “extremely hard to get currency” in its “app store”. As a dedicated and impatient gamer, you don’t want to collect enough of these coins for a year to get your dream weapon and instead buy this coin using the notorious “in-app store”.
The second category is cosmetics, which means only visual changes or visual add-ons. For example, a pet that goes with you everywhere without doing anything. For example, a nice hat that offers you nothing more than a nice image.
While I hate the former category, I always support the latter. Buying something knowing it won’t do your character or game any good means you’re rooting for the people who spend their time introducing you to the game you’re playing. Or does it just mean that you like to use images that not many people use! Either way, this, in my opinion, means that you are doing well.
We have a perfect example that includes both categories; World of Warcraft. You already pay for the game, you pay the subscription to be able to play, and Blizzard is still trying to sell you something like pets and mounts or some services like visual change of characters or change of sex, right? Well, I support this.
However, WoW is also trying to sell you some big services, like server switching, which I don’t support. I don’t want to be misunderstood here, so let me tell you that I don’t want all players to switch servers whenever they want. But Blizzard should definitely work on this, maybe one free server switch per year is a good idea. Or maybe they should at least lower the price. This is tricky, I know, but if you’ve been playing WoW for years, you probably have characters scattered all over the place and aren’t willing to pay huge amounts to get all your characters together on the same server. After all, you can’t know what will change in the future. Maybe you have to move your main character to another server leaving some other characters…
That was our familiar Blizzard example. As many of you may know, we have much worse examples, especially mobile games and Facebook games. From what I remember, I can tell that this started with Farm Town. Tell me if I’m wrong but Knight Online or Silkroad or any game before Farm Ville couldn’t do what Farm Ville did! It’s like these guys just poisoned the games industry and left like nothing happened. Now every developer and every company thinks it’s pretty normal to sell people important things in the game, things that affect the game. No, this is not normal I tell you. Knowing this, I still spent some money on games until I understood that even spending money is very difficult to get what you want, you just have to spend more!
Yes, this is what these developers want. They want you to buy more and more diamonds, for example, let’s call this extremely hard-to-get currency “diamond”. You buy some diamonds and use them to open some chests and you get shit, and then you buy some more diamonds to open more chests and you get lucky once! So you decide to buy more diamonds!
A weird example is that you can buy a level 60 skill when you are level 1. OMG… Another example is that you have to wait a month to upgrade your weapon/skill or you have to pay for it. Fair enough right?
Yes, these guys changed the world of video games a lot, to the point that people even buy abilities for their characters. I used to spend money on games, but I can say that I am trying hard not to do it again, and do you know what my solution is? I either ignore games that offer in-app purchases when I see them, or (99% of mobile games offer in-app purchases) I just download them hoping they only sell cosmetics, then uninstall them when I see that ugly picture.
Let’s forget about mobile gaming for a second and take a look at the example of Diablo. When it was published, people could buy and sell things on the auction house, and Blizzard received a commission for each transaction. What was the game like back then? ****! The drop rates were terrible, literally terrible for a game of this type that was almost only drop oriented, even when you got an epic item there was no reason to get excited because an intel item would probably turn out when you were playing a barbarian.. I can’t even find words to describe how terrible Diablo 3 was at the time. So Blizzard completely changed it. They removed AH and flat drop rates and now D3 is a perfect game for the Blizzard brand. By the way, I spent (wasted) over 100 euros on items in the hope that I could kill faster and get more items to sell in return. how stupid…
And for those who don’t know yet, I’ll talk about the Path of Exile example. A perfect example for our second category. They only sell cosmetics and they also sell storage space, but let’s ignore that for a while. They usually sell cosmetic things. Personally, I could pay to play such a good game, but the game is free. If you like Diablo-type games, try Path of Exile and you’ll understand better what I’m saying.
Well this topic never ends with short articles like this as the list goes on. I didn’t even say anything about kids making purchases using their parents’ credit cards. That would make this article much longer. There are many other related topics that could make this article much longer, but for now I’m done.