Let's discuss IAP

01-09-2014, 01:23 AM
Let's discuss IAP

I'm seeing more and more threads become nothing but complaining about IAP, questioning IAP, and whatnot for pages, to the point that sometimes it's hard to find impressions. I'm sure I can't be the only one who notices this trend. And with the way IOS gaming had evolved, I'm sure it's a trend that won't be dissipating any time soon.

So let's discuss IAP.

Now as much as we hate to believe it, IAP is probably here to stay for the long run. I applaud the developers who stay completely premium, but more often than, an IOS game today will have some kind of IAP.

But IAP by itself. Is. Not. Bad.

I don't think a lot of people have seen that yet or perhaps they've become so jaded that even the slightest mention of IAP turns them off of an anticipated game. IAP is not bad. It's how the IAP is used that can make or break a game.

It's clear that by now that IAP can be separated into several distinct categories. There are the full game unlocks and expansions. These are probably the most accepted and most traditional uses of IAP. Jet Car Stunts 2, Ninjin, Paint It Back are examples of this kind of IAP.

Then there is what I'd call "lazy" IAP. Unlock all levels, all vehicles, all weapons now, hints, those kinds of things. They don't affect the gameplay in any way, shape, or form; it's merely there for the gamers who for some reason bought or downloaded a game but don't want to play it through it as intended. I believe this kind of IAP is also pretty well accepted.

There's also the rare donation IAP, which merely is there to help out the developer. The only game I know that has donation IAP is Beat Leap.

Now we start moving into more gray territories. I'd place ad removers in their own categories. Sometimes they're the lone IAP in an app, sometimes they're bundled with coin packs, but the need to purchase an ad remover is solely based on how obnoxious the ads are. Some devs do their best to make ads as unobtrusive as possible while others have video ads during gameplay. One is okay, one is just frustrating.

Boosters is another kind of IAP that can be ignored...or not. It all depends on how generous a game is, but for the most part, boosters just make a game easier and aren't really necessary.

Now we reach the currency packs. It comes in many different forms, many different styles and prices, but the idea is always the same. The rate currency is gained is critical in regards to packs, at least for a non-causal gamer. A game like Starborn Anarkist just throws money at the player so its two currency packs are hilariously unnecessary. Then you have other games (can't remember any names, because they're the kind I delete fast) that reward coins at the slowest pace, that abuse dual currencies, and have insanely high prices for items and upgrades.

But I can deal with paywalls and grinding if a game is fun enough. What I will never tolerate, and what I consider the most unacceptable IAP is buying time. We've seen timers go by many names - energy, damage, etc. - but it's all the same. You're on a clock and when that clock runs out, you either pay or you don't play. It really seems so counterintuitive, maybe not for causal gamers but for the hardcore crowd. You download a game to play it, to invest your time into it. If your time becomes something to be priced and measured by a game, to be bought in increments, then that game doesn't deserve your time.

So not all IAP is bad. Not all free-to-pay games are freemium. A free game can be balanced and fair. And a paid game with IAP can still offer a premium experience.

What kinds of IAP do you find acceptable, if any? Which can't you tolerate? Is there any worth or merit to IAP, or the freemium model? Do you distinguish between F2P and freemium?

Last edited by Bronxsta; 01-10-2014 at 10:08 AM.
01-09-2014, 01:28 AM
I prefer free demos with the option to purchase, like Shareware. Unfortunately these are not the norm. Also think episodic is fine like TWD.

01-09-2014, 02:00 AM
I miss the good old days of premiums with lites.
01-09-2014, 02:52 AM
Joined: Jan 2011
Location: England
Posts: 9,824
The 'shareware' model is great, eg you download a free version or lite, you then pay x amount to unlock it.

Basically when games are free you now get really suspicious ! You then see the list of IAP's on the app store and you realise there'll 'probably' be a paywall somewhere. Theres been lots of stories about it, these games suck you in and then you basically buy IAP after IAP as you want to get further.

Does make me laugh when people think no to a 1.99 game but then later that month theyre playing a freemium game and spending 5-10 dollars on IAP's !

I still think if we all bought games on launch price it would help with the amount of freemium coming our way. Problem is toooo many people wait for a price drop or are cautious with a game asking for 17 opinions before they splash out 99c

Yes devs need to eat, lets help them buying games at premium prices rather than freemium
01-09-2014, 03:27 AM
Joined: May 2012
Location: California & Philippines
Posts: 2,078
I don't like buying consumable IAPs such as gold, gems, booster packs, energy refills, and lives. Heck, I don't even use boosters in most games as a way to test the game's balance. If I need these consumable IAPs, I delete the game.

Some freemium games let you earn premium currency or "the best there is" through other methods like earning ranks and topping tournaments and that's perfectly fine with me. As long as everything's within reasonable reach of fair play. Hello Hero is free-to-play with ranked battles where cheapskates can eventually find their way at the top if they're persistent enough because of the many avenues the game throws at you to get currency and top tier items. (However, the game is a bit shallow and won't appeal to Western gamers. :P)

IMO, everything in a game should be obtainable with an above average amount of game time (many won't finish the game) without having to resort to buying their way to it, be it direct purchase or by acquiring currency. There's always a way to gate every tier and the devs just have to figure out the best method for it. It feels great when you earned godlike status rather than buying it. Some of the recent Kemco games have the idea but could use some tweaking in prices here and there.

I highly value purchases that will last and that you can restore later on such as full game unlocks, expansions, extra characters, and alternative gameplay modes. The extras shouldn't detract from the core of the game though (Reaper's tiered unlocks are a good example). Extra characters should offer enough varied content (hey, high five, Phoenix HD). Ad removers are fine if it makes the game feel premium enough (like if the IAP could revert what they did to House of the Dead).

Full game unlocks are a bit of a concern down the line when say support is dropped for that very app and in a worst case scenario, Apple shuts down. Still, you probably get your money's worth around the time you buy it anyway and presuming you get around playing it. I'll continue to support this model however.

Doublers also have a lasting and greater value over time but can fail its purpose if not planned out right. Steam Punks has a doubler but it hardly reached its worth in my time with the game because the currency drop rate was far too low to begin with. I'll drop a bomb and mention Punch Quest here. I still love the game for the play though. Crabitron has a doubler and tripler that combine to a sextupler. It's a bit over the top but... well, you decide. (Great game btw).

IAP unlocker shortcuts are lame if you can already unlock the feature through normal play. An example is one that unlocks all stages and character classes without having to work your way through the campaign one stage at a time. Might as well pay to see the credits roll. Castle Raid 2 has such an option but redeems itself only if you see the app as a purely multiplayer game (a good one at that).

I'd really like to see less inclination to consumables and more to additional content. Telltale has fine examples of premium apps with add-on content as is Plague Inc. in its fine execution of expanding what it offers with new plagues and scenarios.

One other thing: a premium game + consumable IAP = no no no no no no no no. Big hitter: Echo Prime

Game Center/Steam/PSN: Echoen
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Last edited by Echoen; 01-09-2014 at 03:29 AM.
01-09-2014, 05:03 AM
I didnt like IAP last year, but this year I made a resolution (and a worse attitude against it): Dont buy games with lots of IAP, much less with gems in it. And much less if it comes with a price attached. I already have enought games and that game that Im looking at with lots of IAP will probably go free in some weeks. I can wait. I have anough games as I already said. No need to rush for every new game. I dont trust the system as before. Even now, what I thought was "premium" isnt anymore.

Even some games are trying to force people to buy costumes with IAP, which I find absolutely greedy. I will be a lot more cautious now, asking about IAP before buying. How many games that seemed good in the beginning ended up deleted because of paywalls and greedy designers? Hundreds and hundreds paid with my hard earned money. I am not rich and I cant afford every game on the AppStore.

I came from a time where it didn't exist, so its effect is bigger in me, Im not used to it, and what I see there worries me a lot. I dont want a freemium future, I want a REAL premium priced game.

There are different kinds of IAP, listed from normal to indecent.

Shareware IAP: A good model where you get some stuff for free and if you want the whole thing you pay. Pretty good to try things out.

Coin Doubler IAP: A way to speed things up nice and easy. And they can be restored in case of data loss. Lately, Coin Doublers have sky rocketed and now they ask insane quantities of money.

IAP Shortcuts: For people lazy or that dont want to go through everything to enjoy the game. As long as they arent required for regular play, I dont mind them.

Coin Pack IAPs: Designed to rip you off. Whenever I see those I fear for some paywall or some ultra expensive items (the best of them) that cannot be bought otherwise.

Consumable Items IAP: One of the worst. Having to buy in-game stuff with IAP is a rip-off. Cut the Rope 2 introduced them to me and I wanted to vomit when I saw it. Paying IAP for costumes is just plain ridiculous and an outrage. In fact, paying real money for in-games things is a rip-off.

IAP on a premium priced game: Shouldn't exist. Wont buy these games anymore. I have enough. I am fed up with this.

Freemium games: They are design to keep things happy until you are addicted (some kind of scheme), and then they will start asking real money from you, but you are already hooked and don't think like a person anymore, you are suck in and you brain have been washed. And you pay money. Then the same person complains about the price of a 0.99 app not realizing they spent much much more on the freemium game. Ive seen it. It happens. Its how those games are designed. Hook you up and then rip you off nicely and with a smile. Fight it.
01-09-2014, 05:09 AM
Also, to everyone: If you are suspicious about a game that has lots of IAP, dont buy it. Wait, it will be free soon enough, and you have many games installed so you can still play those, they are awesome, thats why you bought it on the first place. Dont follow the AppStore trend to buy new games every week and leave the ones from the previous week behind. Its a trend and you can overcome it. I still have plenty installed that I can go back to. No need to buy every week. Thats a wrong thing that capitalism/consumist societies have implemented in our brains.
01-09-2014, 05:43 AM
Well I wanted as many people as possible to try my latest game and I have had almost 1K downloads across all platforms and 1% have chosen to pay. The free is same as paid except for ads.

I am okay with that as I really just want people to play!

Please follow me on twitter @JamesDestined I post lots of development from both my game creation and professional development.
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01-09-2014, 05:45 AM
Joined: Jan 2011
Location: England
Posts: 9,824
Originally Posted by TheFrost View Post
Dont follow the AppStore trend to buy new games every week and leave the ones from the previous week behind. Its a trend and you can overcome it.
Yep thats a great point and one i need to do ! As you say there are SO many new games every week, i look back to classics i want to play more or complete. He-Man i want to get to the later levels, want to finish Bastion, Limbo, so many games.

On one hand its amazing how many games come out on the app store but then i sadly leave my favourite from last week behind. Ideally i should just stop, play the games i've got, finish them, delete them and then buy more, but i just buy buy buy ! (As prices are so cheap)

Swings and roundabouts, amazing time for portable gaming but its so saturated as well
01-09-2014, 08:06 AM
Arranged in declining order of acceptability:

Expansion packs (new levels)
Full game unlocks (for free downloads)

Consumable IAPs