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IAP vs a GameGenie???

06-10-2013, 08:02 PM
#1
Joined: Aug 2012
Location: Arizona
Posts: 91
IAP vs a GameGenie???

Sup yalls,

I'm an iOS dev (iqSoup). As we all know many folks these days value 99 cents above all other worldly possessions--so free to play is often (unfortunately) one of the only ways to make real money on the App Store. It seems people don't mind IAP when it involves extra downloadable content or cosmetic stuff like a goofy hat or a skateboarder made out of monkeys. But when the IAP effects real gameplay stuff, people (myself usually included) go crazy and get super mad and start gnawing on the corner of their desk to unleash their rage. Its has been said that this practice is ruining video games and destroying the industry.

Back in the good old days there were these little devices called Game Genies and Game Sharks. For the 5-year-olds out there: you plopped them into your NES (a big gray machine that you had to blow into in order for it to play games for you) and then you could put codes in that let you cheat in the game. These devices cost money (a lot more than most IAP) and basically "broke the game." People didn't really mind. I mean it didn't take anything away from the people who legitimately beat Contra 3: Revenge of the Thrown Controller. But for those who wanted an easier experience or just wanted to see Super Mario turned inside-out it offered a way to pay money in order to cheat or otherwise break the game. There were also cheat codes independent of a cheater device (up, down, up, down, square, triangle, triangle) that would give you infinite lives or unlock a god-mode or something like that. Sometimes games of the past (GTA2) were way more fun in cheater mode than they ever were in real mode. The people that used it enjoyed it and the people that didn't had the satisfaction of playing and beating a game without any extra help.

So why is IAP for an iOS game any different??? Why is an in-app-purchase so much worse than purchasing a Game Shark and using that to cheat. We'll ignore leaderboards, cause ya--clearly being able to pay to get to the top of a leaderboard kind of deletes the purpose of having them in the first place. But lets say you had a fun free game that let you "cheat" (in one way or another) if you throw the dev a buck or two. And maybe when you play on cheater mode your games are invalid for leaderboard submission--or maybe the game just doesn't have leaderboards or any multiplayer stuff to begin with.

Does that bother anyone? Would you buy such a game (eerrr, download it for free and perhaps enjoy the experience and tell your friends about it)? If it still would bother you then why? What makes that sort of thing so bad when the Game Genies of the past weren't looked at with the same nerd rage???

Really looking forward to responses! I've been thinking about this for a while and I wanna see what people think. This'll help a lot with my upcoming game!!!

The Soupmaster
iqSoup
06-10-2013, 08:33 PM
#2
Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 3,691
Well, even if you ignore leaderboards and multiplayer, then there are still issues.

Often a game designed in this manner is balanced specifically to encourage the additional purchase of consumable IAP. In the old days, games were balanced for maximizing player enjoyment. The more people enjoyed the game, the better it sold, the more money it made. Everyone benefitted from the same thing, the game's design being focused on the user experience. Freemium games are often balanced so that free play becomes frustrating, boring, and an overall not so great experience (not at first, they need to suck you in at first), and then you have to use your IAP game shark "cheat" to experience the game as it should have been designed in the first place. Developers and players no longer benefit from the same thing.

Old cartridges did not come packaged with the game shark, freemium apps do. So there is the simple temptation factor that distinguishes the two experiences as well. People who didn't want to be tempted to cheat didn't buy a game shark. People playing freemium games have no choice, not only is it included, it's usually right in your face.

Freemium style consumable IAP isn't priced the same way as a game shark either. That was a device you paid for and used for any game whenever you wanted. Consumable IAP is a 1 time use thing. Say you decide you want to pay for X amount of consumables to get the playing experience you want from a freemium game. If you finish and want to play again, and experience the game the same way, you will need to pay again, and again, and so forth.

Finally, for some people, and I'm seeing that this is a minority more and more, the mere presence of such consumables cheapen the experience in much the same manner as in game ads. It just degrades the overall experience of playing the game even if it has no impact on gameplay.

06-10-2013, 08:49 PM
#3
Joined: Aug 2012
Location: Arizona
Posts: 91
What if you (IN THEORY) you had a game that was fun without the cheater-mode. It was built from the ground up with the player's fun factor as the primary concern. BUT you could pay 99 cents to unlock say a god-mode. Like it was a FPS (I know, bad example for iOS) and for a buck you could play through the story mode (not multiplayer) with invulnerability on. Or maybe infinite ammo or something like that.
06-10-2013, 08:53 PM
#4
Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 3,691
Quote:
Originally Posted by iqSoup View Post
What if you (IN THEORY) you had a game that was fun without the cheater-mode. It was built from the ground up with the player's fun factor as the primary concern. BUT you could pay 99 cents to unlock say a god-mode. Like it was a FPS (I know, bad example for iOS) and for a buck you could play through the story mode (not multiplayer) with invulnerability on. Or maybe infinite ammo or something like that.
Well, first of all a 1 time pay to unlock any sort of mode isn't really freemium style IAP. Terminology aside though I would have no problem with that. The problem is how do you let people know that your game is balanced for enjoyment and not cash generation? Every game is bound to claim as much, and there are a zillion freemium apps out there. I guess what I'm saying is I wouldn't have a problem with such a setup but I'm not I'm not sure how you would distinguish yourself from the less nicely balanced hordes. I'm also not sure how you'd make money
06-10-2013, 08:54 PM
#5
Joined: Aug 2012
Location: Arizona
Posts: 91
Or here's another example. I recently played through FTL (faster than light) on PC. Its a really hard game and I loved it, but had a very hard time not dying past around the 10% mark. I really really sucked at it. Like a good rouge-like should, it has permadeath. So what I did was save the game, copy the save file, and then when I died and the game erased my save, I would paste my save back into the game's save folder. This way I could actually beat the game. I cheated but still had a lot of fun and it was STILL a really challenging game...for me anyways. So what if a iOS version of FTL came out and they let you pay a buck for a switch that could turn permadeath off. Maybe doing so means you won't earn achievements while its off. The rest of the game is exactly the same, it just has an optional cheater IAP. And not consumable--something you could actually keep forever. How would you guys feel about that?
06-10-2013, 08:59 PM
#6
Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 3,691
Quote:
Originally Posted by iqSoup View Post
So what if a iOS version of FTL came out and they let you pay a buck for a switch that could turn permadeath off. Maybe doing so means you won't earn achievements while its off. The rest of the game is exactly the same, it just has an optional cheater IAP. And not consumable--something you could actually keep forever. How would you guys feel about that?
There was some discussion of this in the WazHack thread I believe. The idea of permadeath being optional would probably upset the more hardcore players. Mainly I think for the reason I mentioned before, temptation. Sure you can choose not to use it, but if the option is there, it might be hard to resist, and then if you do use it, the game's not really what you wanted (as a roguelike fan) any more. So it's not really the end of the world but there are people who wouldn't like it. It would really come down to your target player base in a case like that.
06-10-2013, 11:01 PM
#7
Joined: Apr 2013
Location: USA
Posts: 113
Part of the issue is: what do you want your game to be, and for who? IMO, Permadeath is a defining feature of a game. It's an important element that defines the audience nearly as much as the genre, setting, art style, or platform. Optional permadeath defines a different audience. I'm not sure it's wise to say "Oh, you other gamers need to pay more to enjoy my game." Especially given the pseudo-"classist" overtones of paying for an "easy" or "casual" mode (there's enough hate against "gamers who don't enjoy games the way I do" as it is).

I think IAP that removes ads or unlocks game content (the rest of the game, new level packets, new guns or whatever) are the most attractive and reasonable IAP. I'm also down with cosmetic IAP like the ubiquitous hat.
06-10-2013, 11:16 PM
#8
Joined: May 2010
Location: Utah
Posts: 554
If I could pay for one Game Genie app and use it on all my games, sure, why not. The game genie was a one time fee, but iaps will just continue to get more and more expensive. I've payed for Action Replays (kinda the modern GG) for different systems, and didn't care because it was a one time fee (well, one per system), but I'd never pay for cheats if it were a dollar per cheat, or even a few dollars per game.
06-11-2013, 12:11 AM
#9
Joined: Jan 2011
Location: England
Posts: 10,656
It would be quite good to pay say 69p for an IAP for a 'god mode'. So many games i may give up on after a few weeks due to frustration on a certain level, again with so many games to play i tend to move on if one app annoys me ! So to pay to have a 'god mode' where i can complete it is quite a good idea.

But as others have pointed out IAP's have a bad bad reputation as it seems lots of devs 'force' people to pay for IAP's , you hear all the time 'you can complete it with IAPs', too right you should be able to ! Mostly it seems to be you get to a certain level, say level 40 so the game suckers you in to play it tons and then you HAVE to buy iaps to survive

As for a god mode messing up Game Centre etc i dont care for that at all, i come from the generation where the second i turn off my computer i lose all my scores. I'm never going to beat some 15 year old kid from Kentucky who plays the game 24/7 while i have to work and look after a baby. Dont care if i'm the best 3054th player on a certain game in the world !

But as always when IAPs are done right they work well, just way way too often IAPs seem to 'force' the player to spend much more
06-11-2013, 01:51 AM
#10
Joined: Aug 2012
Location: Arizona
Posts: 91
Thanks for all the comments!

I agree with much of what's been said. I don't care much for leaderboards either--which I think mostly says something about Game Center. I mean leaderboards, or similar multiplier features, certainly could work if done properly. Game Center just doesn't. Its too easy to hack, doesn't give devs enough control over their own leaderboards, its too clumsy for players to use. So most GC leaderboards are pretty meaningless regardless of cheater IAP. Maybe iOS 7 will bring something new...not crossing my fingers though.

I 'spose a lot of IAP just has a bad reputation at this point. Perhaps beyond salvation. The common consensus (and I think its accurate) is that games with IAP are built with IAP in mind. So without the IAP the game sucks, isn't fun, requires impractical amounts of grinding etc. They kind of force you to pay if you actually want to play the game and have any kind of fun while doing so. Whether you technically can play the game without IAP isn't really the point. And seems like even if a game doesn't do that--like its a fun and good game with TRULY optional "cheater IAP"--the reputation of IAP is so bad that it doesn't matter. No one will give the game a chance and the IAP will be looked down upon no matter what.

I still think IAP the has an actual non-cosmetic effect on the game can work. People don't seem to mind coin doublers all that much. I think there's a lot of taboos to avoid: timers, IAP in the multiplier aspects of a game, pay walls--things like that. But I think there's a way to do it right and still make money of an iOS game. A way to have "cheater IAP" that isn't offensive, isn't abusive, isn't dishonest--like the Game Genies of yore.

Or maybe they'll be a come-back for paid games. Maybe the pay-to-win fad will die off a bit. That'll be the day! Or maybe the iOS market is just so extremely saturated, and will stay that way, that a new developer has virtually no chance for meaningful financial success--whether their game is paid or free-to-play. I guess we'll have to wait and see how things shake out.