Posts Tagged in-app purchases
Asphalt 8: Airborne is most certainly one of the more enjoyable racing titles we’ve seen this year and is personally one of my favorite games of 2013. I’ve spent many hours racing, jumping, and knocking out opponents. However, I never played long enough to unlock two of the game’s best and most expensive cars, which players either need to invest an insane amount of time in to unlock or put down close to 100 dollars to unlock with credit.
So, what does purchasing those two vehicles do to the game experience and is the increased speed worth the payout for those who decide to purchase instead of play? I collected some credits and purchased the Mercedes-Benz Silver Lightning (325,000 credits) and the Koenigsegg Agera R (375,000 credits). My first reaction was “holy shazbot, Batman! It’s fast!” – getting an increase of close to 100 mph is certainly felt.
All of a sudden the tracks become much smaller and shorter. It’s not just about faster vehicles, because each course is now a new challenge to master as the increased speeds can get players from one section to the next in a much quicker fashion. Also, with the increased speed each turn on every course becomes more challenging, requiring better reaction time as players need to make sure to hit it perfectly or they’ll crash. These faster vehicles certainly enhance the experience and make for a far more intense time than with slower cars. Every turn needs to be hit with near perfection, and it’s possible to keep the boost going for quite some time on certain courses that have the items lined up correctly for that.
The increased speed is great as it’s exciting to hit those jumps to spin longer and jump higher and further. It’s great taking them online too, though I didn’t have enough credit left over to fully upgrade them after spending the 700,000. That set me back a bit against some of the competition who clearly poured time or money into the game.
Overall, fans who wish to invest their time or money will be met with increased excitement when running with the Mercedes and Koenigsegg cars. Things move much quicker and it requires expert knowledge of the tracks and the game’s controls to ideally navigate the courses to perfection. I had a good time running with these vehicles and think others will greatly enjoy them as well. Remember, speed doesn’t just enhance the vehicles but also the course, making it a new experience to race through.
GT Racing 2 is another game I decided to take a drive with using its top vehicle. The Bugatti Veyron costs 5772 credits, which costs around $40 just by itself. Users can spend $50 to get 7500 credits or $100 to get 16000 credits. So basically, $100 would buy 3 of the 7 elite vehicles.
I played the beginning of the campaign with the first available vehicle, though never got to far beyond that. So going from what’s pretty much the slowest car in the game to the absolute fastest is something that should be noted.
At first, I absolutely hated using the Bugatti to race around with as I was expecting the fastest and most expensive car in the game to be fun to use. Each race I would end up all over the road, hitting the left side of the wall and then the right side as the car has some serious sensitivity issues and lacks solid control. The poor controls had such a negative impact on me at first, but I ended up sticking with it and changed the control sensitivity in the options to 0. This ended up helping a lot more with the control of the vehicle, even though it was still very jolty experience.
I also thought the game might be a bit broken at those high speeds, because it wasn’t just me that was all over the road at times. I’ve seen the computer go running straight into the wall without turning, which makes me wonder if it’s the speed or something else entirely. Some races just felt off, between the competition and the handling of the vehicle. After a while of racing with the Bugatti I was able to get a better grasp of its handling, which led to a more enjoyable race even though I still find the wall on several occasions. It’s certainly a difficult beast to handle.
It’s just not the easiest experience out there. Depending on the track, the high speeds require a lot more use of the brake. Of course, having brake assistance is a big help at these high speeds but without it the brakes become an even more important factor on courses that have continuous tight turns. That was another new challenge that came about: trying to quickly turn left while braking and then quickly turn right and tap brake with the other thumb.
I feel the handling of the Bugatti is difficult, but also think the high speeds are tough on some of these tracks. So, instead of purchasing another one of the high end cars with close to the same speed I decided to slow it down a bit and chose a lower tier vehicle. I went with the Citroen Survolt, a car that’s still plenty fast but not too over the top. The few races I participated in with that vehicle were far more interesting and felt better and more natural. Of course the car handles a lot differently anyway, but the slower speed makes turning and sensitivity less of an issue. Basically, what I’ve learned from this experience is that players are in for a challenging time when racing with high speed vehicles.
GT Racing 2 feels a bit demanding with how easy it is to go through a ton of credit. Spending cash might be worth it on the lower tier vehicles for those who enjoy the game, but I would question putting cash towards the high end vehicles. Especially if players want to keep it at a more casual and enjoyable experience. The high speeds are really challenging and can be very frustrating at times – and not in a good way.
I do look forward to trying it out once again with a gamepad instead of touchscreen. I think it might have a better effect on the controls. We’ll have to wait and see about that one.
Summoner Wars Begins New Limited-Time Promotion That Makes All its In-App Purchases Free For Online Use
Posted by Andrew Stevens on November 19th, 2013
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Summoner Wars has a new promotion going on where all in-app expansions are available for free for online play, letting players enjoy the extra online competition at no additional cost. There are over 9 different decks to choose from, which increases the challenge and allows players to create custom decks for online play. All users need to do is download the game ($0.99), create a Playdek account to gain access to each deck, and begin casting spells in online battles.
No one really likes in-app purchases, do they? Sure, sometimes the flexibility is great when they’re done well, but far too often it all feels a bit cynically done and to the detriment of the player’s bank balance. How good would it be to have a new system that aims to make things much clearer and much fairer? That’s the idea behind Play Nice, a system set up by UK-based developer, Strange Flavour, and set to be a particularly eye catching part of their forthcoming game, Any Landing.
We had a chat with CEO and Lead Coder, Aaron Fothergill, to learn more.
148apps: How did the idea for Play Nice come about?
Aaron Fothergill (AF): We dipped our toes in the freemium games market a few years ago with the free version of Flick Fishing, which went on to earn far more than the paid version had when it was at the top of the iPhone games chart, so it was pretty obvious to us just how profitable freemium could be. The problem was, we also saw some of the crazy side of freemium and noticed a trend in other games that was causing the press to start kicking up stories about games designers “deliberately targeting children” or “iPhone gamer gets sudden $3000 bill” and so on.
As with a lot of other game designers, our initial thought was that it’s really a parenting issue. The controls are in place to restrict your children from auto-buying consumable content and Apple even tells you to set the parental controls. However as the issue grew, we realized that we weren’t thinking the ‘Apple way’. Rather than the industry needing to teach players how to work their phones. If we don’t want players to accidentally run up huge bills while still having the benefits of consumable IAP, we need to redesign how we use consumable IAP to suit the way they play.
From that, we first thought of a simple cap, but realized there were issues with that and the way IAP works and then developed it into what we’ve now got for Play Nice where we can set an upper limit we think is a fair amount players can spend on the game, but where any consumable purchases up to that point are actually deducted from the top price, so you don’t lose anything by trying a consumable item first. (Actually, because of the way the IAP system works, you actually save a few pennies by buying the consumables first)148apps: How long has the system been in development for?
AF: On and off for about a year, mostly using our upcoming Any Landing game as a testbed. It was planned for release in June originally, but then I went to WWDC and saw a lot of shiny new code things I wanted to play with and of course that took us back a few more months.
148apps: What challenges have you guys faced in its implementation?
AF: The biggest challenge was working out a way to use the current iOS IAP system to get the specific effect we want in a way that’s not confusing to players (the whole point is that it’s meant to be transparent and fair) and not cause issues in approval.
The other issue is actually in balancing the game itself, as when you’ve bought the ‘full’ IAP package, that effectively gives you whatever power ups you want and would drastically change the game’s balance. So a lot of time has gone into making sure that it actually works well as a game.
148apps: Are you concerned about there being any difficulties getting through Apple’s Approval process?
AF: We are. The method is a bit of a jumble under the hood and while it’s not doing anything technically bad as far as Apple’s rules are concerned it could look like it’s trying to abuse the system. Because of that I’ve kept Apple support in the loop to check we’re not doing anything that could be construed as dodgy. It still has to go through approval of course, but we’ve done quite a few unusual new features in the past on iOS, so I’m confident that we can keep everything within the rules.
AF: This is one feature I’d actually be quite happy if other devs copied it. Once the actual workings of it are out there, it’s pretty obvious (if slightly fun to implement) so we’d be happy if other devs wanted to give it a go.
148apps: What’s your opinion of the conventional in-app purchase system? Are there any titles that you think use it well or particularly badly?
AF: In itself, it’s a useful system. There’s a lot of confusion about IAP, especially about consumable IAP (which is the one that is easiest to abuse) and non consumable. For instance, if you wanted to do a ‘shareware’ type game on iOS where you unlock the rest of the game after playing demo levels, that’s entirely practical with a non consumable IAP item. (the only rule is you aren’t allowed to call anything a demo, as Apple doesn’t allow demos on the App Store).
What consumable IAP does well (and where Play Nice aims to improve) is it lets you design a game where the skilled players who like to put a lot of time into their gaming can play through the entire game without paying for anything extra to speed the game up or make it easier, but players who really want to play the game but can’t afford as much time, or aren’t quite as skilled, can purchase upgrades to adapt the game to the way they want to play. This is one reason why freemium is so successful. It doesn’t pitch one game at everyone with specific skill levels and free time, it allows players to choose how they want the game to play. Two of my favorite examples of this are The Blockheads (by Majic Jungle Software) and Nimble Quest (by Nimblebit) which both have an optional non consumable purchase that effectively doubles how fast you play (in The Blockheads it halves the time everything takes to craft and in Nimble Quest it adds red gems that effectively double the rate you collect gems). Both use consumable IAP in a reasonable and entirely optional way that doesn’t force itself on you.
The abusive part is where games focus entirely on being nearly impossible (or actually impossible) to play unless you keep spending money on consumable IAP. They’re effectively targeted at the same people that would be spending a fortune on gambling games, i.e. children and the surprising number of people with compulsive issues.148apps: Do you think the freemium model is here to stay?
AF: Absolutely. Developers can’t make a living on just the paid model and the big developers are making a lot of money on freemium. There’s nothing actually wrong with IAP itself (or freemium for that matter), but some publishers are really going to have to be careful to balance making crazy amounts of money with the risk destroying the system that makes all that money by triggering potential legislation that restricts or bans it if it’s seen as too abusive.
The Play Nice concept has certainly piqued our interest. Anything that helps make things clearer for gamers has to be a good thing. We’ll be keeping a close eye on Strange Flavour’s work and Any Landing’s progress. Thanks to Aaron for taking the time to answer our questions.
In-app purchases, especially in regard to kids making them (often accidentally), remains a hot topic. Apple is poised to launch new restrictions on some apps that offer them, but for parents, it is important to know how to keep accounts secure by restricting in-app purchases.
Apple’s built-in parental controls, available in the Settings app under General then Restrictions, contain options for restricting in-app purchases.
The first of the two settings that you will want to consider is the In-App Purchases toggle, which will allow you to disable them entirely. Apps will either report that IAP is disabled or that the app is not connected to the internet.
As well, you can require Require Password immediately, which will make any new purchase from the App Store, in-app or otherwise, require the user’s password to be immediately re-entered. This way, you can make a one-time purchase without future ones being automatically approved.
Now, there’s not necessarily an easy way to disable these restrictions temporarily without going back in to the Restrictions menu and temporarily re-enabling them. As well, disabling Restrictions entirely will reset all settings. So, for someone loaning their device to their kids, it’s not the best solution.
Separate iTunes account with gift cards only
One other solution is to create a separate iTunes account that’s funded only by gift cards. Normally iTunes accounts must be tied to a credit card, but there is a way to create one that isn’t tied to a form of payment.
The trick is similar to creating an account in a different country. Go to the iTunes Store on your computer and log out of your current account. Go to download a free app. Choose to register an account and complete the process. When you put in your billing information, None should be the selected option, only available by trying to download a free app. You now have an account that doesn’t have a credit card tied to it. You can redeem gift cards on to this account to provide credit for IAP and buying apps without needing to be connected to an alternate form of payment. This is perfect for kids’ accounts.
To switch between accounts on the device itself, just scroll to the bottom of the App Store, tap on your account, and choose to Sign Out. Then the next user can sign in either through that same prompt or when going to download an app and/or make a payment. I recommend disabling automatic downloads – sometimes Apple will force an Apple ID to remain logged in to a device with them enabled.
Hopefully these tips make controlling in-app purchases much easier. Apple could still do a lot to make them less of a hassle for users who share devices, but in the absence of such mechanisms (or apps that target kids with expensive purchases), it’s up to parents to be educated about the features of the advanced technology they want their kids to enjoy and benefit from.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Narr8, the digital storytelling app we reviewed back in November of last year, has gotten a new update, letting users unlock new episodes with in-app currency, called NARRs tokens. These will are earned through daily use of the Narr8 app, and can also be purchased like other free-to-play games on the App Store. The first two episodes of each series are still free to download, of course. The new update also includes a new autoplay feature, letting users watch a continuous stream of downloaded episodes.
The first step in NARR8′s evolving business model was the introduction of NARRs tokens, which users accrued automatically by using the app each day. This virtual currency has helped users unlock exclusive collectible items associated with each series. Now, users can also buy “NARRs” to unlock new episodes.
Opening the app every day will accrue the full weekly bonus of 120 NARRs per week. The cost of one new episode will be 100 NARRs, which can be purchased for $ 0.99. Users can purchase bundles of 100, 300, 500, or 1000 NARRs for $ 0.99, $ 2.99, $ 4.99, and $ 9.99, respectively. Auto play for motion comics costs 100 NARRs.
Barely two weeks have passed since the release of 2K Games’s Borderlands Legends. Things travel fast in the world of iOS gaming, however, and we checked in with James Lopez, associate producer at Gearbox, to see how he felt about Legends, as well as any plans for the future.
“We never really imagined [Borderlands Legends] being a FPS. It’s clearly possible, but we’re very happy with the FPS experience in Borderlands 1 and 2,” explained James. “The goal of Legends was to try something different, something that explored other facets of Borderlands, untapped potential.”
As anyone who’s played Borderlands Legends can attest to, it’s quite a change of pace to its older siblings, but it turns out that there are some significant similarities in its 4 player based squad combat. “Although you can play Borderlands 1 and 2 alone, we always intended the true experience to include all 4 characters at once. We wanted this to be the same for Legends.” James Lopez elaborated to explain that, “…clearly, we can do missions with fewer characters (the tutorial starts off that way), so it might be something we revisit later.”
Somewhat unusually for a game closely connected to a console or PC title, Borderlands Legends lacks any functionality directly tied into its bigger brothers. James told us that this was “never really considered…an option”, citing that the team wants the fans “to be able to enjoy the full experience for whatever they buy.”
What challenges were faced trying to convert a typically FPS title to the iOS screen, and implementing strategic elements, however? James explained, “We kept asking ourselves what the core ingredients of Borderlands are. Some things were obvious, but some were elusive and some were difficult to accomplish because of time constraints (like randomizing gear, UI tweaks, adding gameplay features).”
Despite such issues, James has been pleased with the response to Borderlands Legends. “We tried to put as much of the core formula of Borderlands in as we could, and we’re glad people are feeling like we accomplished that. That doesn’t mean we won’t try to squeeze in more, though!” It’s worth noting that, at the time of writing, sales figures as well as critical reaction to its release, aren’t as positive as Lopez and the team hoped. App Annie’s listing demonstrates the progress sales wise, while an average Metacritic rating of 51 demonstrates that not everyone found it to their liking.
Improvement seems to be a common theme with 2K and Gearbox’s future plans for Borderlands Legends, however. As James explained, 2K China’s developers believe that “…there are some things we’d still like to revisit, and I believe they’ll knock it out of the park.” and while he couldn’t discuss any immediate plans for DLC or extra content, he did tell us that “…given the great response so far, I think we’d be crazy to stop here”.
As 2K China finds its feet in the iOS world, it’ll be interesting to see what they come up with next. As James explains, “Legends hasn’t been out long, and this is somewhat of a new frontier for us”. Discussing the recent announcement by Subatomic to include in-app purchases within Fieldrunners 2, he expanded upon that by explaining ‘…I think we’d like to explore any option that allows to create content of value for our fans.”
While James Lopez and the team might be clutching their cards close to their hands for now in terms of DLC support, we’ll be keeping a keen eye on any further developments for Borderlands Legends. For now, check out our review to learn more.