One complaint that has been consistently leveled against in-app purchases is that it’s easy to accidentally make a purchase in real-world money by accident. In-app purchases, which can include anything from extra level packs to extra play time or ad removal, can often generate more revenue than the initial app purchase. With previous iOS versions, in the first fifteen minute period after downloading an app, in-app purchases can be made without having to re-enter you password. The Washington Post writes that parents had complained that, “in the 15-minute period after an app was downloaded, children were buying sometimes hundreds of dollars of purchases on games such as Smurfs’ Village and Tap Zoo — popular iTunes games that are also among the highest-grossing programs for in-app purchases.” In the Smurfs app, for example, a barrel of “snowflakes” or “Smurfberries” can run as high as $99. Besides, “fat finger syndrome” can also lead to unintended in-app purchases.
In response to such complaints, Apple has changed its handling of in-app purchases in iOS version 4.3. Now, a password will also be required to make an in-app purchase, though for fifteen minutes after entering your password that time you’ll be able to make multiple purchases. So, it’s a small hassle but if you’re making lots of purchases at once it shouldn’t be too bad.
Of course, you can also just switch of in-app purchases in the “Restrictions” section of the Settings app if you’re really concerned about your kid spending too much money of Smurfberries. At the price of a small inconvenience, this new setting should prevent some parents from getting too irate, but I do wish that Apple had made it an optional (albeit default) setting that we could tweak personally.
If you’re anxiously awaiting a means of preventing accidental in-app purchases, updating to iOS 4.3 should solve your problems.
It’s time to fire up your engines and prepare your Dig Dug decals, as Namco is bringing Ridge Racer Accelerated to the iPad later this month, after the game’s iPhone release last year. This latest version in the venerable arcade racing franchise focuses not just on trying to cross the finish line faster than your opponents, as per standard racing game procedure. You also have to master drifting technique, which fills up your nitrous meter, which you can then use to deploy speed boosts when you need them. The game features 57 unlockable vehicles, 11 courses playable both forwards and backwards, and 5 game modes, including a Game Center Time Attack mode. That sound you hear is Kaz Hirai being very excited about this racing series, which has amazingly almost been around for 2 decades now, coming to the iPad in full-screen, high-resolution glory.
The interesting thing about Ridge Racer Accelerated for the iPad is that it will be released as a freemium app – it will be free to download, include 3 cars, one course, with Time Attack and Game Center ranking modes available for free, and will cost $9.99 in-app to unlock the full app. This is Namco’s fourth freemium game release for the iPad, following Time Crisis 2nd Strike HD, Lost in Time: The Clockwork Tower and House of Glass. It appears as if this model is starting to pique the interest of major publishers, especially on Namco’s side, as this is their second release that has been freemium.
It would be interesting to see if this is a potential future business model for games on the iPad, as it seems to have drawn raised interest on this platform, between NimbleBit’s Dizzypad HD, One Man Left’s Tilt to Live HD, and now Namco seems to be pushing the freemium model with their iPad titles. Is there something about the platform that encourages more business model experimentation? Are iPad users buying apps in different ways than what the iPhone/iPod touch userbase tends to consume apps? Between these titles and Gameloft testing the model out over on the iPhone side of the App Store, it’ll be curious to see how consumers react to it and if we continue to see it used down the road. Ridge Racer fans will get to express their opinion on the model later this month when Ridge Racer Accelerated HD hits the iPad.
Viva la Tilt to Live! Few games have received the kind of post-release support that Tilt to Live has since its initial release on the iPhone last February, and the updates just keep on coming for the game. A new mode available via In-App Purchase, Viva la Turret mode, has been released for the iPad version of the game, after being released back in December for the iPhone version.
Viva la Turret mode probably changes the way that Tilt to Live plays the most out of any of the other additional modes. Here, your only weapon is the Perforator turret powerup, which, when you pick it up, spawns a turret that locks you in place, which you can then use to shoot at the waves of enemies that spawn around you. Each enemy you kill drops a gem that increases your multiplier by one, which you can collect whenever you get out of the turret. The turret powerup only lasts about 6 seconds and resets your multiplier whenever you leave the turret, though you can replenish this by shooting at the other turret powerup in play, attracting it towards you, which also helps out by blowing away enemies near you, as you are not invincible while in the turret in Viva la Turret mode.
So, the game becomes a balancing act in Viva la Turret mode – you want to try to rack up a huge multiplier, but you need to be careful as you can easily lose all your gems by inadvertently picking up a loose Perforator icon. Also, it can be very difficult to kill enemies that are near you, and you may be helplessly waiting for the escape from your turret lest one stray red dot comes by and kills you. It fits in the game’s original formula, but it really does feel like a brand new game in the original Tilt to Live shell. If you want to hear more about the development of Viva la Turret, listen to the episode of The Portable Podcast featuring developers One Man Left where we talk about the expansion.
This mode is available as an in-app purchase in both the iPhone and iPad versions. It’s just $0.99 for the iPhone version, but the iPad version (which features the same larger playing field of the other HD modes, as well as a new enemy wave only in the HD version) is priced slightly differently. If you have bought the full version of Tilt to Live HD in the app, Viva la Turret will cost you $0.99 to unlock. If you haven’t bought the full version in-app yet, then you can unlock all the modes, including Viva la Turret for $4.99. The updates aren’t quite done yet, either: a cooperative multiplayer mode via wifi or Bluetooth entitled Viva la Coop will be coming to the iPhone version of the game as a free update to the Viva la Turret expansion, where one player mans the Perforator turret, and the other player collects jewels and powerups. This update should hit in February for the iPhone, around the one year birthday of the original Tilt to Live, which is practically an eon in terms of App Store gaming.
One of the ways that developers can release an app for the iPad is known as a universal app. A single app that work on both the iPhone/iPod Touch and the iPad. These apps are specially designed to know what device type they are running on and adapt the application to take full advantage of that device. We’re not talking pixel doubled iPhone apps on the iPad, we’re talking true hybrid iPad and iPhone applications.
One such application is BibleScope. This app is a veteran, having been one of the 500 applications on the App Store on launch day. It did really well, relatively, those early days of the App Store, charting well into the Top 100 in sales.
This coming update for BibleScope is the first applications that we know of that will be offering to unlock the iPad functionality via in-app purchasing. It’s an interesting way for developers to recoup the expense of creating the iPad version, but we wonder how customers will take to it. The general response from consumers has been very negative when a developer tries to charge for increased functionality, hopefully this will be different.
Developer Kenny Ham says that he plans on testing the waters by charging $1.99 via in-app purchasing to unlock the iPad functionality, the first time he’s charged for a feature upgrade in the nearly 2 years the app has been available. The main new features for the iPad version include optimization of the display for the larger screen including a 2-page view and pop-over controls.
The upgraded app should be available at iPad launch or shortly after. Hit the jump for more pictures of the iPad version of BibleScope.
There have been many recorders on the App Store since it’s debut. From nFinity’s Quick Voice to BIAS’ Pro Recorder and Polar Bear Farm’s sleek looking Record. But although they all do the job in recording background noise, spoken memos and notes, not one has introduced the one feature you’d expect, phone call recording.
Today, in what could be seen as a controversial move by some, the guys at Retronyms (also the people behind the iPhone music mixing studio Dopplerpad) have done just that. They have successfully integrated the ability to record audio from a phone call, straight from within their app ‘Recorder’.
The new feature comes in the form of a separate in-app purchase, and each full hour of recording will cost you $1.99. If you feel you need more than that though, there is also an option to purchase a staggering 8 hours of call audio recording time, although this will cost you $12.99. Of course with any app containing one-tap purchase abilities, the cost through in-app purchasing are sure to rack up – fast – especially for the odd power user. But, in the case of the general user just looking to record short amounts of in-call audio, this is a great addition to the usual bog-standard App Store recorder.
The update is already on the store, so what are you waiting for!
With the announcement last week that Apple would allow In-App Purchasing (IAP) for free apps, we wondered what will really change in the App Store. Obviously right now this is a theoretical exercise as, so far, very little has changed. We’ve seen a couple apps that were previously paid switch to free, and at least one high profile app released as free with IAP.
We talked to a few users and a few developers to get their take on what this could mean for the future of the iPhone App Store.
This new app type, free but with In-App Purchasing has quickly been nicknamed free+. There are some really great things about it, and some really bad things about it. Let’s break this down into what’s good and what’s bad for developers and consumers.
Good for Developers
There are lots of really good things to like about this decision for developers and they are almost uniformly happy with the decision. We asked Kyu Lee of Gamevil for his thoughts, “In-app purchasing for free apps is a huge step for Apple, and it really shows how much they are willing to adjust to the developers/publishers needs. Apple was first to adopt in-app purchases, and now first to adopt in-app purchases for free games. We strongly believe the next steps would be introducing microtransactions that are lower than 99c or the ability to use an intermediate currency within the game. We believe that Apple should provide as many options available to the developer/publisher as possible as long as it enhances the customer’s experience, and we’re very excited about what the tracks they’ve been following so far.”
For some types of apps it makes the developers job a lot easier and potentially more profitable. Then there’s the added bonus of making piracy much harder with apps that include in-app purchasing.
More Income Options
With in-app purchasing there are many more income possibilities for developers. Not only can they sell expansions to their app from within the app, but they can also sell subscriptions, upgrades, and virtual goods (think MMO apps). Doing in-app purchasing allows for the impulse buy. For example, the recently detailed Eliminate from ngmoco:) will feature a certain amount of time you can play per day while advancing your stats. If you are really getting into the game and you run out of time you are pretty likely to drop a buck and buy more time. Maybe just once, maybe a few times. Depends on how compelling the app is. Think of this as the candy racks at the grocery store checkout. You are standing there looking at it, a certain number of people will decide to buy.
In addition to more options, income opportunity is spread out for a much longer time. The way it is now most apps that make it to the top 100 do so quickly, then fall off quickly. This little spike represents a very high percentage of their sales. Sales after that are usually tied to an upgrade, press, or other such promotion. IAP allows for longer term income opportunities for developers as they can add content to the app and charge for it over a longer period of time. In addition, you can continue to get money from the dedicated users more than just once like most current apps. Continue reading Thoughts on In-App-Purchasing For Free Apps »