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Indie Dev Rants About App Store at GDC, Apple Pulls Game (kotaku.com)
34 points by matthew-wegner 2560 days ago | hide | past | web | 23 comments | favorite

Possibility 2: Zits & Giggles' creators also kept raising the price of their game — as an experiment — up to $400 as of last week.

What we have here is a textbook case of "burying the lede". The headline on this article is ridiculous linkbait.

Here's are some simple UX design rules:

There should be no point on a phone's screen which costs $400 to touch.

If you absolutely must have a button which costs $400 to touch, it should have a UI that works hard to communicate this to the user and to make it very difficult to do so by accident. Think: Confirmation dialog with RED warning message containing words like "$400". Or whatever. Given the stakes, you should probably do some user testing on your interface to ensure that your customers understand it.

Moreover, you must not embed your button that costs $400 to touch in an environment where everything else costs $1.99 or $2.99 or, at most, perhaps $9.99. If you're making an app for writing checks, that's okay, but it should look like an app for writing checks and be installed in the "check-writing apps" section of the store, so that people have plenty of environmental signals warning what they're getting into. You should not embed your "empty my bank account" button in a screenful of silly games that appeal to drunk people in bars.

Finally, a button that costs $400 to touch should have an undo option if at all possible. The undo option should not force people to read their credit card bills and institute a chargeback, which is a depressing pain in the neck.

If you casually disobey these design rules because you're conducting an "experiment", you are a sociopath and nobody should do business with you. Apple is no longer doing business with this person. Smart move.

The app store has a confirmation dialog after you press the buy button. Additionally, Apple emails you a summary of all your itunes purchases, and you can return the app via itunes within 90 days, pretty much no questions asked.

Safari contains a lot of buttons that cost more than $400 to touch, if you go off and purposefully buy something it's on you. Apple has a very generous return policy for apps and the store makes you confirm before purchasing. Not to mention the email receipt.

Sorry, disobeying implied design rules does not make you a sociopath.

Almost none of that is in any app developer's control. That's all on the Apple side of things.

Of course—but if Apple doesn't want to do that design, they really shouldn't be allowing people to set $400 as a price for an App in the first place. In fact, I'd say that any price over $40 should get the developer a phone call with the App Store marketing department (you know, the one that chooses apps for "Staff Picks" and arranges large front-page banners and such) asking them whether they're sure about the app's "value placement" in the store.

Actually, they do this: they call devs when the price seems 'off' on initial review. Subsequent price changes are not reviewed I think.

Presumably, people misread the price (299 = 2.99) and Apple got tired of the credit card chargebacks.

The App Store agreement is one of the most one-sided things I've ever seen. Pulling the app is one of the nicer things they could have done to punish this behavior.

For example, on a return, the app store agreement allows Apple to take the full sale price from the developer's account, keeping the 30% commission. So for each return of a $300 app, the developer could take a $90 loss! I don't know if Apple actually takes advantage of this clause.

> For example, on a return, the app store agreement allows Apple to take the full sale price from the developer's account, keeping the 30% commission. So for each return of a $300 app, the developer could take a $90 loss!

This is incorrect. I know it came up a few months ago and caused a lot of fuss, but it's still incorrect. What is correct is that Apple may take the full amount they paid the developer. for example, if a customer requested a refund for a $300 app, this would cost the developer $210 and Apple $90.

OK, can you explain how I'm misinterpreting this?

6.3 In the event that Apple receives any notice or claim from any end-user that: (i) the end-user wishes to cancel its license to any of the Licensed Applications within ninety (90) days of the date of download of that Licensed Application by that end-user; or (ii) a Licensed Application fails to conform to Your specifications or Your product warranty or the requirements of any applicable law, Apple may refund to the end-user the full amount of the price paid by the end-user for that Licensed Application. In the event that Apple refunds any such price to an end-user, You shall reimburse, or grant Apple a credit for, an amount equal to the price for that Licensed Application. Apple will have the right to retain its commission on the sale of that Licensed Application, notwithstanding the refund of the price to the end-user.

(emphasis mine)

299.99 = 2.99?

IANAL, but I doubt that part of the contract would hold up in court. When looking at contracts, the court tends to favor the little guy, and I'm certain that app developers could argue that Apple was unjustly enriched by the contract. Now, I'm hardly a source of reputable knowledge, as my only experience with law is only one quarter of Business Law in college, but I could see the case going either way.

I think practical concerns would prevail here. If Apple only exercises this clause for developers who insult the King, there won't be enough plantiffs for a class action, and it would be too expensive for Joe the Developer to take Apple to court himself.

He might go to small claims court, but most will just take the loss.

The main issue here is not that Apple can and will do this kind of thing, it's the whole cloud of secrecy that shrouds how they decide this type of thing.

These two variable problems are such a pain. I would bet it was more for the experiment in pricing than the rant.

Agreed. The price-raising is an interesting experiment but you can see why Apple might object to their store being used for an experiment.

It would be nice if they'd also (a) tell the guy why they kicked him off, and (b) set a new policy on pricing that prevents stuff like this. Even better would be (c) allowing him to reapply on the condition that he keep to the new pricing policy.

A policy that says "you can't experiment with your price"? That doesn't sound well-informed.

The guy wasn't doing anything wrong, he was just trying to maximize the income potential. If you don't allow vendors to experiment with prices, you're not a very good distribution channel.

Likely so. It's worth noting that Apple maintains a 90-day return policy on App Store purchases, though, so it's not like Tommy was screwing customers out of their money.

Thinking about it, the app probably has a high number of returns then. That would probably trigger Apple's wrath.

I asked Tommy--it's had 12 returns (which is ~20%).

Kind of undercuts his argument "look I can put crap in the appstore and sell it $300" when it gets pulled.

I think his argument was more along the lines of "people will buy overpriced crap" than "apple won't pull overpriced crap from the store".

I suspect the whole thing, on the dev's part, was a PR ploy. Everything about it seems juvenile too.

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