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back to article Hate phone games that make you buy in-app gumble? Congrats, you're a niche player

The mobile games sector will swell in value by more than a third over the next two years, a new report from Juniper Research has claimed. According to its figure, the sector will be worth a mammoth $28.9 billion, up almost 38 percent on the $20.9bn it is apparently worth now. The report, titled Mobile & Handheld Games: Discover …

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As a niche device owner....

Any App on any device that I have that suddenly starts offering In-App purchases get removed straight away.

This especially applies to apps that I have actually paid for in the first place. Suddenly your 5.99 purchase become 15.99 or more.

May those App developers go and rot in hell.

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Meh

Re: As a niche device owner....

What is Juniper Research's history? Have they ever correctly predicted something?

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Childcatcher

Re: As a niche device owner....

"This especially applies to apps that I have actually paid for in the first place."

I would argue that there's grounds for an additional cost - in certain cases. If the item in question is an expansion pack, I think it's reasonable to attach a price-tag, as this provides further gameplay which will have required additional time and effort on the part of the developers to build. If a player likes the game and wants to play further than the basic version offers, it's their choice to download the pack.

Similarly, there's justification that purely cosmetic items which do not have any impact on the gameplay can have a price tag - if you really want to pay 50p for a fez, that's your call.

In both these cases, the actual purchase mechanic must absolutely be handled responsibly - there should be no way that mummy's credit card is suddenly maxed out because little Jimmy has bought a bundle of costumes for the character on this favourite iPad game.

What is absolutely wrong is the "pay-to-win" model - paying to get something that changes the way the game progresses, be it negating a delay required before a next move can be made, or buying a special item to make things easier.

Of course, in an ideal world, there would only ever be one "in-app purchase" - the payment required to switch from a free trial to a full paid version of a game.

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Linux

Re: As a niche device owner....

The idea that use "freeloading" types are the niche is just absurd. It's like saying that people that don't fall for telemarketing scams are in the minority. It's just that there are enough stupid people out there to subsidize everyone else. I don't know anyone that does in-app purchases for games. They just play the free versions and put up with the limitations.

Suckers be very lucrative but there just aren't that many of them.

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Re: As a niche device owner....

Well put.

If it has 'In-App' purchases I ignore them.

The worst offenders are devs that allow you play the games but when you get to a certain level it is impossible to progress fairly without buying something extra especially when they target children's games.

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JLV
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Re: As a niche device owner....

It all depends on the value provided by what you get in the first place:

I have two tablet gaming apps, Battle Academy and Total War, $19.99 and $9.99 respectively. These are extremely fun wargames "out of the box". Battle Academy sells you extra scenarios, Total War sells you XP and sundry. I might buy scenarios, but never XPs. I agree with Battle Academy's model, Total War leaves a bad taste.

Still, why should I care? I can take it or leave the in-apps, but both games are well worth their initial $*.

On the flip side, I installed "Master Your DSLR", a $0 camera manual app that is supposed to tell you how to use your DSLR. At $30 a pop per model guide, with not even a sample model's manual provided. They have a good reason not to provide samples - apparently the manuals suck, once paid for.

This is blatant ripoff-ware, I reviewed it as such and so have many others. Many thanks to the photo enthusiast website that recommended it.

In-game purchases are the same as ads. Most of the time, thanks to other folks' stupidity generosity, I can get stuff for lower prices. Some of the time, the cost is justified to subscribe to extra content that would otherwise not be economical for the developer to provide.

Well-done it's a freemium/premium approach, not a gouge. Badly done, it gets negative reviews. Either way, you're not obliged to pay and app stores should have child-proofing mechanisms in place (courtesy Apple's rather expensive legal loss in that domain).

What's y'all's suggestion? Regulate it out of existence?

* seem expensive? My metric is how many hours of entertainment/$. Both were well worth it. Much better value in any case than a $10 movie with $6 popcorn. Or $29.99 Nintendo DS games. Not quite as good as Netflix $7.99/mo.

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Re: Expansion Packs

Even expansion packs (lets call them DLC, as seems to be the custom) fit into an "it depends" category. If the game you paid for was incomplete, then it's scummy, If it's an additional story after the first completes, it's all good. We've actually had these types of expansions for quite some time as I remember seeing the same thing with the Wing Commander mission packs.

The problem is, there is always some debate over which is which.

(purely cosmetic items are good too)

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Re: As a niche device owner....@BillG

I assume from your comment you are not familiar with the way market analysis works. The accuracy, or lack thereof, of any given prediction is wholly irrelevant. Nobody gives a shit about the accuracy.

All that matters is what's being said by the analysts and when it's being said. Fortunately, you are in control of both of those factors. Having spent decades, and copious amounts of money, dealing with analysts, I'll summarize how it all works.

You, for whatever reason(s) want some upbeat news about the mobile gaming sector. You ring up your rep at the various analysis firms, outline what you want said, and when, and they tell you how much their research into those issues is going to cost. You pick a firm, pay the money and the sector looks exactly like you thought it would. If you really want to drive a point home, you send somebody to a nice lunch with the analyst and have him tell them more stuff, secret 'insider' stuff, anonymously of course.

The idea, is that journalists will be presented with enough information to write a quick story around, which (hopefully) increases interest in the sector and drives up spend in that sector in a nice little bit of self fulfilling prophecy. My favorite part about it all though, is that you get to cite the findings of the research you had carried out in your own investment raising efforts and you don't even have to disclose you're the one that paid for the research as long as it was the entire sector you wanted research on and not your own company :)

Some jackasses take analysts seriously, but that's just because they don't understand what it's all about. If they were aware that 100% of all market research and research related 'stuff' comes out of your marketing budget. Big companies have people with fancy titles and big salaries who exist solely to deal with market analysts. They'll officially be assigned to a fancy position like 'Regional Business a Development Coordinator' or something, but their salaries are paid by the marketing department, not the sales department.

So you can rest easy tonight, knowing that the analysts are there for whatever you want them to be there for. You really don't have to concern yourself with them at all :)

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Re: Expansion Packs

Battlefield was built by the players, it was map making and mods that made it truly great and used to be common place in all multilayer games at one point. Now you need to spend weeks just to get a decent gun, and if you want to play more than a couple maps? you better get out your wallet. I just looked at the price of elder scrolls online, then the subscription and then the magic horse. Was time to walk away.

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Meh

Who?

Who are these big spenders? No one I know admits to making payments in games and in general most people don't seem to spend long enough playing the titles anyway. Someone go and buy the report and give us a geographic breakdown!

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Childcatcher

Re: Who?

It's the children - they buy without realising that their parents' credit card is going to take a hit. That's coming to an end now that phones are starting to have extra security.

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Re: Who?

It's the incredible sums of money charged in some of these apps that get me - £80 for a 'heap of gold' or some shite.

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Re: Who?

Sneaky charges.

It's the penny (well 99p) payments to get you to the next section that rack up the cash, I suspect. A little here a little there, and if you hate the game 2 days after you forked over the dosh, well it was almost nothing and anyway you've already taken the bait and you're too busy playing the next lure ( sorry game) to bother.

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Re: Who?

So, if its the children, then surely this reports forecasting is wrong, if better regulation is coming in? (EU something about IAP?) then children will be finding it harder to "accidentally" make these payments, although I guess at the same time, the market is always expanding and any reduction in accidental payments will be more than covered by new markets.

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Re: Who?

See http://www.urbanjunglecomic.com/comic?p=2745 and http://www.urbanjunglecomic.com/comic?p=2746

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Re: Who?

There could also conceivably be parents who buy some of these things for their kids.

"If you clean your room all week, then we can buy that engine upgrade for your super car"

Or something of that sort.

I mean it's at least possible

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Re: Who?

James, thanks for that, now I can't stop reading about "Jason"!

Also, slightly back on topic, and something I have just read on NeoGaf about payments in Dota2

http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=839936

It seems even the most hardened players can fall into the IAP trap, if the game is good enough.

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Lack of options?

PC, Xbone & PS4 offer less choice than previous generations.

With all of the costs (>£300 system + game + in game purchases), limits, restrictions and reduced functionality of these platforms (for SaaS marketing), is it any wonder people are using anything else they can find?

If you're stuffed no matter what you choose, you might as well choose the cheapest option with the greatest variation of games.

I want to own and play PC games, but there is nothing out there that offers quality without undermining my retail rights. If I bought a Steam game and didn't like it could I sell it on?

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Re: Lack of options?

I believe if you buy it through greenmangaming.com and then activate in steam (as opposed to buying directly in steam) you can sell back a game that you've previously activated. Not entirely sure though, but you could look it up if you're interested =)

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Re: Lack of options?

I can't say that the latest PS and Xbox offer fewer choices, unless you mean they're new and there aren't as many games for them yet.

A quick survey in the office indicates that kids still prefer to play on consoles and mobile gaming is only when they can't or aren't allowed on the console.

I buy the kids lots of cheap second hand console games and only occasionally the latest release. They seem to like the fact that there's a lot of choice. They know there's a limit on how much time they're allowed on electronic games and I never hear them asking to go on my phone instead of the console!

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h3
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Re: Lack of options?

Think the greenmangaming trade in thing only works with their capsule client. (And seen as they have disabled my account before and couldn't explain what they had done or fix it then there is no way I trust that).

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If it means a reduction in the dumbing down of franchises on consoles then I'm all for it.

Mobile for easy, throwaway yet expensive crap. Console and (hopefully) PC for real games, which are actually challenging to play and have plenty content. Oh and some good UIs would be nice.

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In some ways, I think in app purchase is OK.

As an example: Badland - one in app purchase of £1.99 (I think) to unlock day 2, and remove the ads. No other nagging, and you get to play 40 levels for free anyway (hours of entertainment).

Contrast that to Dungeon Keeper. £2.99 for 5 minutes play, or £69.99 "best value" pack for probably 30 minutes. Otherwise you're stuck with hours of waiting for "life" to regenerate.

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Wait, 70 pounds for 30 minutes is a "better value" than 3 pounds for 5 minutes? Any video game, anywhere, would actually try to charge as much for an hour of play as an all-out meal at a high-end restaurant?

You've GOT to be making this up.

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Unhappy

http://www.baekdal.com/opinion/how-inapp-purchases-has-destroyed-the-industry

He really isn't...

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Linux

Another tax on the stupid...

It would not surprise me at all if this stuff gets expensive quick. It's probably designed with the stupid and impatient in mind. A little here and a little there can add up quick. There are plenty of stories of kids getting in trouble fast this way.

People that have any foresight or numeracy avoid this nickel and dime stuff.

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h3
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Re: Another tax on the stupid...

All the money comes from what they term as whales. (It is a pitifully small percentage).

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I clicked on the link to the report...

... and they wanted to charge me £2500.

Now, that's an in-app purchase and some!

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Re: I clicked on the link to the report...

If you want the single user license it is the bargain price of £1750!

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Anonymous Coward

Anyone else read the title as "Hate phone games that make you buy in-app grumble?"

No? Just me then?

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Re: Anyone else read the title as "Hate phone games that make you buy in-app grumble?"

Not just you.

I didn't realize the strip poker games had gone quite so far.

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Unhappy

There's precious few mobile games that I've actually spent money on.

Think I've chucked about £1.40 at the makers of Cut The Rope, £0.70 for Sprinkle Jr., but that's about it. In-app purchases just strike me as a rip off - if the game is good, I would buy it, but the App-Stores seem to function on quantity over quality, so I just assume that everything will be shit* and play the free versions, chucking them once I reach the point where I need to pay to progress.

*Experience shows this to generally be the case, most mobile games are either outright dire, or get very dull, very quickly. Plenty of money being made, though, so someone must be hurling their cash at this crap.

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Re: There's precious few mobile games that I've actually spent money on.

I did drop about £20 on Final Fantasy: Dimensions, but that's because it was a Final Fantasy game you can't get on non-mobile platforms.

No in game purchases though, I paid my money, I got a game (and patches/bug fixes, which is nice).

Only time I've ever spent money on a game on a phone.

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Unmitigated Bullshit

Played computer games virtually everyday for the past 25 years. And I've only ever installed one game on any mobile device.

Lemmings. On my Motorola A1000. You know, the one Crapple copied to make the shitephone? Back when the P900 dev community hadn't been reemed out by the fuckers. Mmm I miss my stylus.

And I will never pay for application or game on a mobile device. And I would certainly never be so utterly dumb as to pay for one and then pay-to-play too.

But I guess there are many extremely stupid fools out there who can be parted from their money.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Unmitigated Bullshit

"But I guess there are many extremely stupid fools out there who can be parted from their money."

I take it you are too young to remember shareware software, such as Doom, Duke Nukem 3D and Shadow Warrior. You played the first part for free then had to purchase the full version before continuing. I don't remember if it allowed the purchase "in app" but it did give you a few options of how and where to buy it from.

In App purchases are the new Shareware. Some are worth getting (new levels and weapons unlocked for example) and some are not worth it (extra gems to cheat your way to the end with a credit card). The choice is yours to make, but different people will value different content. You may think they are idiots but that is only because they disagree with your view on how to support the community that they actively use and you do not.

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Mushroom

Re: Unmitigated Bullshit

At least with Duke Nukem, Doom, et al., you played the shareware episode, decided whether or not you liked it, then paid for the rest of the game.

If it'd been a case of getting the first episode for free, having the option to free up space on the screen (remove ads), then needing to pay seperately for each new gun you picked up, having to pay to unlock the subsequent levels, and having to pony up some cash every time you died (or wait 24hrs for your health to regen), I doubt it'd have been half so popular.

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well...

When I have sufficient time for "proper" gaming, I fire up the PC or console.

However, tablet/phone games do have their place. When I've only a short time available for playing or am away from the PC/console, I pull out the tablet and use a number of different "free-to-play-BUT..." apps. When I inevitably run into a spot that I can't get past without additional purchase, I switch to a different app. I have, to date, never purchased in-app add-ons to a mobile game.

I HAVE, on occasion, liked a few enough to buy outright - the app itself, NOT add-ons. When a developer crafts something I deem worthy of hard-earned cash, he/she/they should be appropriately compensated. Anything less makes me just another freetard and that simply won't do.

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Facepalm

Re: well...

It's not that different on non-mobile either, you know - especially on "multiplayer" games, and as we all know no game can be cool these days without some form of that. Would you believe there's a certain much-awaited-space-sim-in-development where a single ship can cost (potentially way-) upwards of $100? You'd better make the most of it too, 'cause when it gets blown to bits by Joe Friendly Pirate it's gone. Unless you purchased periodic insurance for it, of course - you have, haven't you? Which (naturally) insures only your basic model - any extra equipment you had you need to buy again and forget about your cargo.

Now of course, you'll allegedly be able to pay for most of that with in-game currency as well - I just hope you have no life or job, and you like to grind (hard to get into specifics obviously since the game is not actually out yet - but that is how these things tends to work...). Or you could just pay for it, obviously. Sadly, this "we know you paid for the game but please keep paying us through the nose anyway" issue is not mobile-specific at all...

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Are these the same researchers that tell us PC games are dead?

I'll believe them when I see that porcine avionics specialist.

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Re: Are these the same researchers that tell us PC games are dead?

That'd be the pig Pey'J from Beyond Good and Evil. A proper genius with Avionics.

Or Scorpio from Alastair Reynolds' series - could fly anything that fella.

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Re: Are these the same researchers that tell us PC games are dead?

...for some reason, "Porco Rosso" comes to mind...

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Exactly how...

...do these apps MAKE you buy anything?

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Re: Exactly how...

The games aren't the ones making you do it, its your own brain that is. For more details, read up on B. F. Skinner's research.

These games are designed to lure you in and give you a few easy wins to start the obstacle-reward cycle for free, not too dissimilar to addiction. The payments come later when the player hits an obstacle and is willing to pay to get the reward (In fact the payment adds to reward given the principle of the added cost, added value fallacy).

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Anonymous Coward

There was a very interesting article about

in-app purchasing a few months a back, and techniques used to encourage spending etc:

http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/RaminShokrizade/20130626/194933/

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MJI
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Mobile <> handheld

As I do not own any mobile games, basically not bothered, but I do own my own handheld games console.

Now that has in game purchases as well. One game one of my sons has as well and he spent money on a DLC gun.

But them some of these games are £20 - £30 and are made by biggish teams on big budgets. And yes I have been at work during breaks playing a handheld FPS.

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Ah, so I'm struggling to cope with the fact that modern yoof prefers dumbed down console games to the more engaging PC equivalent and now I'm told that they are finding consoles too challenging and would prefer to chase fruit on a 5 inch monitor. No class.

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It's not just gaming where this is rife

It's slowly creeping into the content creation apps as well, and these are apps where often you'll stump up 20 or so quid before you even get to the IAPs

Freemium apps I don't really have a problem with as I see a lot of these as a demo version, and if you see the use you can buy the whole thing through an IAP. However there are now some that are coming on the market where unlocking the app is on a subscription basis meaning you have to cough up every year for continued use. Much like the hated office 365 and adobe's creative cloud system.

I've not come across anything other than games which use truly consumable purchases, but the cynical imagination in me expects some jackbooted developers to limit the use of a particular function to say 10 times before you have to buy a "bag of gold" to gain access to that function 10 more times.

Bad days for software users IMO

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Devil

Re: It's not just gaming where this is rife

I just had a nightmarish vision of a cutesy animated wallet appearing in the corner of the screen:

"Hi! I'm Wally! It looks like you need to add another page to your document. Do you want buy 1 page for 99p, 10 pages for £7.99 or 1000 pages for £89.99?"

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