Thoughts on In game purchases

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In app/game purchases (IAP) are here to stay because it’s popular and developers get more money out it. So why wouldn’t you want to do it? Well, there’s ethics. I don’t think IAPs are a bad thing but I believe there’s a good and a bad way of implementing them. If you can live with yourself after making money from an abusive IAP system, go ahead, but I can’t. Let’s go through some bad ways of implementing IAPs:

Bad IAP systems

An IAP system that makes you almost have to buy in order to progress the game

This is the worst, mainly because it makes the game itself bad. It’s basically pay to win. How about you pay to get to level 2? 3? How about you pay to see the ending? What’s the point anymore? Does the developer even care about making a good balanced game or are they only interested in making a poker machine?

IAPs that give the player an advantage in the game

This is debatable, but personally I don’t like it. Paying for experience or in game currency or special items feels cheap and feels similar to the previous system. There will likely be an urge to increase the cost of levels and items to make people buy in game currency with real money – which makes the game unnecessarily longer and boring for everyone else. On the other hand it can be helpful for people struggling with the game.

Ridiculous IAP prices

We’re talking extremes here. Like $50 for 1 car in a racing game, or $100 priced IAPs. IAPs for regular items, exp, gold in full priced games. It’s really hard to tell if a price is fair or not if it’s a like a dollar but others are just ridiculous.

So….. what’s a good way of doing IAP?

There are only 2 ways I can come up with at the moment, and in my opinion should only exist in free apps.

IAP for items that don’t affect the game

This would be visual items like hats, costumes etc that have no effect on the game. Think of this as supporting the game and being able to show it to other people that you have.

IAP to remove ads

If the game is free, then this item is also like supporting the game while getting a better experience. Some people hate ads period but I think this is acceptable… if the game is free ( having ads in paid apps is weird).

As for me

Eternal Pain uses the Remove Ads IAP system and Error Hunter is totally free. Who knows though, I might cave some day, but I’ll resist as long as I can :)

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About me

Mark Wong is a front end developer with 10+ years experience. Most of his knowledge of HTML5, CSS and Js is self taught.


May 2024