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Ads and IAP in updates - growing trend, ethical issues?

11-21-2011, 05:13 PM
#1
Joined: Oct 2009
Location: Greenville, SC
Posts: 8,250
Ads and IAP in updates - growing trend, ethical issues?

I'm not a dev, but I thought it would be interesting to hear from the devs that are active on these forums about the growing trend (it seems) of devs changing the business model of an app AFTER release.

Of course, I understand how difficult it is in the App Store economy to make money. But there seems like there's been quite a few devs that have a paid game, but later add in iAds and/or IAPs that make it difficult to continue to play the game without them.

I'd give examples, but I'm not here to bash on any one developer. BUT a lot of gamers are getting frustrated by this trend. It just makes us feel like not buying from these developers again. Heck, if the game is going to go free with ads or free with IAPs, why buy from them when a release first comes out? It's just an insult to have paid for something and end up with ad garbage or forced IAPs that you wouldn't have paid for to begin with.

It's also happening even with new apps where descriptions have glaring omissions that just anger those who bought it (ie., 40 levels -- but not telling you that 20 of those are only available through IAPs).

Personally, I feel that even if it means maintaining two separate apps (the original paid version and the new free version), that's the only way to keep both sets of customers happy. Yet some devs don't feel like they're at all responsible to their former customers.

When an app isn't successful, do you feel pressured to do these things even at the risk of losing your current customer base?

I'd rather pay more upfront than have this kind of mischevious tactics come into play later on down the road. With thousands of apps on the store, there probably is no way that Apple can control the deceptive practices of some devs (and a few of these are devs that were once well-regarded). But it's a scary trend.

Last edited by awp69; 11-21-2011 at 05:16 PM.
11-21-2011, 08:35 PM
#2
While I totally understand the customer point of view and agree that there is ethical issues with some developers, my first reaction would be to blame the market.

The market is totally overcrowded and has about 90% of the income sent toward 10% of the developpers. The average developper is more or less working for free to provide games to gamers. So some of them are not trying to get more income, but some income.

Perhaps that does not excuse some behavior, but it might explain a few things. A developer A tries a paid business model B. No results are obtained, so he switches to a free model C. Because a paid game going free generates much more attention than a new game starting free, he simply has to keep the original game otherwise he'll end up with another failure.

That said, some developers already successful are still using dodgy tactics...

I wish the income was more evenly distributed, making it less greedily attractive to profit-only-looking people, and allowing more developers to make a living out of their passion and hard work.

This might rebalance things a bit between offer and demand, because right now the pressure is really going toward the freemmium model...which is probably going to be overcrowded too very soon...

XperimentalZ Games website Twitter:@XperimentalZ

11-21-2011, 09:14 PM
#3
Joined: Feb 2011
Location: Planet Earth
Posts: 45
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I agree with both of you. Maybe Awp69 should be appreciate with the freemium, and understand that developer doesnt always make profit by spending effort in making the games.

Secondly, its doesnt always happen to game market, where some online ads, merchants and even Oracle product doesnt always tell you everything u get in the app

So, my advice is just to accept the norm, sit back and relax with your freemium.
11-22-2011, 08:54 AM
#4
Yep, I also agree and as a gamer AND as a developper I don't like this trend. I'd rather continue with a premium model for all games, with the user ratings as a good indicator of quality, and a minimum price of 4.99 .

I mean, seriously, if a game is good, he MUST be worth a pint in a bar. And there is no game that doesn't cost 15000$ to develop, so even at 5 bucks it's hard to be profitable.

But the market is not like that currently, so I totally understand the devs that changes their business model and try other stuff to survive and be able to make another game. Somehow, the power is also in the player's hand. If they like a game and paid it 0.99$, and don't want the dev to change the business model, they'd better support it as much as they can. A little facebook post, a good rating, this cost nothing and helps a lot an indie dev.
11-22-2011, 09:38 AM
#5
Quote:
Originally Posted by awp69 View Post
Of course, I understand how difficult it is in the App Store economy to make money. But there seems like there's been quite a few devs that have a paid game, but later add in iAds and/or IAPs that make it difficult to continue to play the game without them.
Edited: Too much info sorry!

But I will say this, the model is attractive to me as a developer (10x more sales!) and as a player (no risk to download and good games I'll play enough to earn in game currency anyway)

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Last edited by Blackharon; 11-22-2011 at 11:52 AM. Reason: Editing: Removed
11-22-2011, 07:25 PM
#6
Joined: Oct 2009
Location: Greenville, SC
Posts: 8,250
I guess one of my main concerns is more about changing the business model without exempting already-paid customers. I've seen games -- and I'm not sure how they do it -- where they've implemented ads or IAPs without affecting current customers.

I completely understand a devs need to change the business model and know that you need to make money to survive. But there's really no other industry that can do something comparable. You don't buy something at a store and then suddenly, because demand wasn't as great, get a bill in the mail. Or the product changes into something that wasn't what you bought.

To me the best solution is to re-release the game separately under the new model. I'm a computer programmer and we clone programs all the time. And yes, it is a bit of a pain to maintain both versions, but we do it because of customer needs. And it usually doesn't take as much effort as it seems after the intial changes are made. Any updates for bugs, etc. are the same.

I don't like the freemium trend at all unless it's treated like a "lite" and you pay an IAP to upgrade to the full version. It's the nickel and dime consumable pressures that are being put in a lot of the freemiums that is disturbing.

I agree, the App Store market is part of the problem. Games ARE priced too cheap.

I just think it's unethical to add ads, etc., to games where people previously paid for them. There was a thread for a particular game, which again, I won't name, where the developer actually did have two separate versions: a paid ad-free version and a separate ad-supported free version. This dev ended up pulling the paid version all together and put ads in an update for previous paid version (and hid what the update was for). These are the kind of actions that I don't understand. There comes a point where, yes, changes must be made if you want to make money. But there still has to be consideration for those who were your earliest supporters.

These are the people that are most likely to get your games in the future and, without their support, you wouldn't have even made any money.

Last edited by awp69; 11-22-2011 at 07:33 PM.
11-22-2011, 09:15 PM
#7
I'd totally agree that a customer should not end up having to pay for a product 'twice' through an update. I'm sure that there are ways to detect if the player had a previous version and deal with it accordingly...

Apple has no rule regarding this kind of behavior, it is the responsability of every dev. In my opinion devs should take care of their customers, a good relationship is a win-win situation. They might make mistakes, but they can also fix them.

At least the people can easily complain through iTunes reviews and let other people know if something is amiss.

XperimentalZ Games website Twitter:@XperimentalZ
11-23-2011, 09:35 AM
#8
Quote:
Originally Posted by XperimentalZ View Post
I'd totally agree that a customer should not end up having to pay for a product 'twice' through an update. I'm sure that there are ways to detect if the player had a previous version and deal with it accordingly...

Apple has no rule regarding this kind of behavior, it is the responsability of every dev. In my opinion devs should take care of their customers, a good relationship is a win-win situation. They might make mistakes, but they can also fix them.

At least the people can easily complain through iTunes reviews and let other people know if something is amiss.
What we did with the game that changed models is early adopters who paid $0.99 got up to $5.99 in the currency (depending on how much they played). In our opinion we thought this was more than fair, but I suppose I should let you guys let me know!

Looking for a writer? PM me

Game Designer of:
Family Feud Matches Gaming with a side of Matchmaking!
Family Feud 2 My First Huge Apple Feature!
Pickpawcket
And more!
11-23-2011, 10:28 AM
#9
Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 1,201
I'm not a dev. I apologize for not reading the conversation here but I'm curious, what's wrong with iAds?? If they don't hinder gameplay, why do players care? I like anything that helps devs, selfless of me, I know.

Hopefully someone can explain to me why they would complain about such things, please.
11-23-2011, 03:39 PM
#10
Joined: Jul 2011
Location: Sydney
Posts: 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by Madman100 View Post
I'm not a dev. I apologize for not reading the conversation here but I'm curious, what's wrong with iAds?? If they don't hinder gameplay, why do players care? I like anything that helps devs, selfless of me, I know.

Hopefully someone can explain to me why they would complain about such things, please.
Subjective: To me, an ad in a game is like a mosquito in the room, a dent in a car, or a curry stain on a fine shirt. A game with ads is blighted. It just gets on my case. A dev generally works up an atmosphere with art and then plonk, like something out of the sky (not rain).

Objective: An ad (during actual gameplay) often does hinder gameplay. It takes screen real-estate that could have been used for the game (or it is just plastered over part of what the dev actually wanted you to see originally). A dev might even compromise the gameplay to make room for the ad.
Some ads mess up gameplay by being close to where you would normally touch to control the game.
Another thing that really bothers me is that some games with ads will crash the moment the network goes down.