Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Good and the Bad of In-app Purchases

Video games have gone in what was many analyst’s eyes in a direction that was never expected. Surely all of us remember at some point or another shelling out $25-$70 for a new video game hot off the shelves, only to turn around after beating the game, trying to sell it, and being offered little more than pennies on the dollar for it. Even though this sort of issue is the responsibility of a third party, and not the video game developers themselves, there is a new way for the manufacturers of video games to turn a VERY hefty profit, and cut out that secondary market all together.

If you’re not already familiar with in-app purchases, they work like this: You download a game onto your game system of choice, whether it be your smartphone or an actual video game system, and you are allowed to play within certain aspects of the game. A hugely popular way to do in-app purchases is to use two tiers of tokens or coins within the game. The first tier is relatively easy to earn within the game, but the second, “premium” token is much harder to find, unless you’re willing to shell out cash for it. The prices vary wildly for premium content in video games, but one thing is certain: Without the premium tokens, the game is vastly more difficult to complete.

That might make you wonder why anyone would ever purchase such premium content. You wouldn’t be wrong to wonder, but there’s a good reason that many people do buy it. That is that the game, to begin with, is often free to download! This typically makes it much easier for players to justify buying just a few of the premium coins now and then.

So on the upside, the games are often free or at least really cheap to start out, which is cool! Basically, that means that the days of $70 video games and software are more or less over as this new business model takes over the old. The downside is that consumers may not necessarily realize just how much they might have spent. Take for instance the game “Real Racing 3.” For players wanting to play through the game quickly, using the gold coins can mean spending literally hundreds of dollars. Sure, the content is great, and it’s one of the best racing games ever developed, but at the same time, it’s simply not worth the price if you pay $300 worth of premium content to finish the game quickly. 

Spending a few bucks on a great video game isn’t a bad thing. In fact, supporting the developers of those great games is the best way to ensure that the talented individuals behind those games keep making more of them. At the same time, however, it’s important to bear in mind that there’s a lot of money to be spent when gaming uses in-app purchases, so be aware of the costs, spend money wisely, and wherever possible, use other avenues that might be available to obtain free premium credits for your games. This might include viewing ads, looking into special offers, or completing surveys to earn a few coins here and there. 

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