The actual issue is "Often consumers are not fully aware that they are spending money because their credit cards get charged by default." - so it's not an issue of people disliking paywalls in free games, it's an issue of people not realizing they're handing over real cash in games which are marked free.
The EU also has't said they want Free/IAP games to not be marked as free, but what they said is 'Games advertised as “free” should not mislead consumers about the true costs involved' (i.e IAP should be made more explicit).
When I browse for a free app I don't want to see the crippled in-app-unlockable app next to the truly free app.
Strict rules for prices in marketing is a prerequisite for a functioning market, my other pet peeve is the contract phone. Not only do I think telcos should be required to market the total cost (which they are already at least here) , I want to take it one step further and completely ban the marketing of the small upfront cost as the price.
I also prefer to know up front what things cost or might end up costing. I guess the difference between us is that I make a distinction between my preferences and what policies I think should be forcefully implemented by governments.
So a better analogy would be a theme park with free entry (or some constant entry price) that then offers optional "in-park purchases" like food, special events, or expedited roller coaster lines. I wouldn't consider this fraud, but for non-free theme parks, I do think a court might eventually have to make a decision based on what exactly you're agreeing on when you pay for a ticket. To avoid legal ambiguity, I suspect theme parks could simply have a document describing what services are included with the base ticket (though not necessarily listing all optional services which cost extra).
No, it's not. The up-front cost, plus the agreement to sign an x (x~=2) year contract is the cost to the consumer. The consumer would not have been induced to sign this contract without the advertised price of the phone so, clearly, the obligations in that contract are not ones that the consumer would be willing to undertake for free (i.e. without a subsidised phone).
the customer has title to the phone immediately they pay that cost
That may be the case, but let me share two examples:
1) If I get an iPhone from AT&T, at a subsidised price because I committed to a 2-year contract, that phone will be locked to AT&T until I request that it is unlocked. They will only unlock the phone if I have satisfied the conditions of the contract (i.e. paid my 24 months' bill). So, although I have title to the phone from day 1 (in the sense that I can throw it down the toilet if I want) I don't really own it in the sense of being able to do whatever I want with it (like use it on a different network) until 2 years' later. It doesn't seem that different from hire purchase.
2) If I buy an iPhone from China Unicom (the 2nd largest mobile provider in China), I pay a deposit up-front (roughly the unsubsidised price of the phone, less the advertised up-front price) and 1/24th of that deposit is credited to my bill each month for the next 2 years. The only practical differences vs. the AT&T example are (i) they don't lock the phone and (ii) they are more protected than AT&T are if I don't hold up my end of the bargain.
A contract phone is just a regular purchase with a payment plan over 24 months AND hopefully a rebate compared to buying the phone cash, since you are bound to the specific company for a period of time.
As an example, an iPhone might cost $1 when you sign a $50/mo contract for 24 months. If that contract would be $25 if I keeps my old phone, then the cost of the iPhone is 24 x $25.
The bottom line is: the total cost should be easy to calculate, specified on monthly bills (how much is phone payments vs. call costs), and obfuscating the phone payments by masking it as e.g more expensive pre-paid minutes must be outlawed as it makes it impossible to compare the contract to the equivalent contract without the phone.
Pay Upfront: £57.16
Installments: (11 x £5.45)
It's more like a SaaS offering you a discount for paying yearly
If it does I look at the in-app purchases.
If the in-app purchases are "x00 Special In-Game Currency Units" then I don't install the game.
Not sure we need legislation to avoid being ripped off...
Which is the definition of 'free' that is used.
No. If a player has to at any time in the game spend in order to unlock, extend or access an area or feature then the game is not "free to play" it's "maybe free to play".
It's deceptive to label it as free.
To me this is a natural supplement to the EU unfair business practices legislation.
Sure we all know the type of game this is targeted at. The time-sink freemium farmville clone that makes it just a little too easy to buy those gems/coins/cash/whatever that makes the timer tick down faster.
What if the IAP in my game is just to remove ads? What if it's solely cosmetic?
Governments do not have the best track record when it comes to comprehension of nuance and basic reality.
I'd like to think that a person is smart enough to tell when their OS pops up the payment dialog that they are under no obligation to click "yes".
More nuanced, according to their first position, you should be able to market game with removable ads as free (unless they cover whole screen or make game unplayable). You would be able call the game free with cosmetic in app purchases too, but you probably would have to make it clear to customer prior downloading eg. "you have to use default avatar unless you pay 1$" somewhere in description.
You could even lock content unless money are paid and still call it free, as long as customer was clearly told what parts are available and what parts are not available. (Hard to understand one liner in the middle of 20 pages long terms of services does not count).
Yes, I also first read reviews to know if the game requires regular payments etc, and it is reasonable to expect this from consumers. But the law should be there to protect those who do not.
"If you don't want to be mugged, don't go down dark alleys" is sound advice, but that doesn't mean that mugging doesn't need to be labelled "illegal"
I don't know if the solution to that is regulation, but it can't be reliance on the uninformed to know what's good for them. The exploitative industry moves faster than any but the most well-informed and most jaded.
Each time somebody tells me that we shouldn't protect stupid people, I remember not feeling very smart in front of pages of legalese in insurance and banking contracts. I keep thinking, yes they are probably going to screw me, but somebody is working to prevent them from screwing me too overtly.
If the public is this bad with something as simple as in-app purchases, why should we ever legalize drugs? This is a serious question.
Because enforcing strong anti-drug laws causes even more damage. It's not that most people want drugs to be legal, it banning them does not work.
On the other hand a legislation like this is easy to enforce, because you pretty much only have to get Apple, Google and Microsoft to comply in their stores.
But if you think people are smart enough to vote and to discuss public matters and to make right decisions for themselves - then there's no reason why decisions about what to eat and what to drink and what to inhale should be any different.
Now, don't know if selfish irresponsible use of intoxicants rises to that level, but the argument can be made. E.g. alcohol laws are everywhere, and its not even a very good intoxicant.
I think if you go out and make a poll you will find intense disagreement on whether there is a right to [severe] self-harm. Please don't strawman into the idea of abandoning all rights.
The drug question is difficult precisely because the balance kf protection and rights is complicated by the fact that prohibition creates massive problems of its own.
This is why there is no simple fix that makes all the harm go away and we should focus on trying to mitigate as much as possible. To me it seems that legalisation and regulation woukd help, but we'll always need services to pick up the people who get into trouble with it.
Maybe in-app purchase can be categorized as one-time or recurring?
I say we boycott applications that do this. But if it's easier to legislate, then by all means.
So, you're right that we probably don't need legislation now to avoid being ripped off, but it would have been preferable to have it when people were being ripped off. That does require consumer legislation to keep up with technology, though.
Can people self-regulate and avoid behaving like that? Yes. Do they? I doubt it.
In the second place, the concept of "we need to prevent people from doing anything negative to themselves" is not distinguishable from the concept of "where there are multiple ways for people to behave, all but one must be prohibited". In fact, it's not even distinguishable from the concept of "where there are ways for people to behave, all must be prohibited".
It's like getting a "free" train ticket, but then when you want to travel you're asked to pay for boarding the train.
That's sensible to false-positives though, a number of games are perfectly playable (with no roadblock) without getting special currency units, e.g. jetpack joyride (a fairly standard infinite runner) or Solomon's Boneyard. The currency units are mostly there for developer support and if you can't be arsed to play the game (for some reason).
You probably meant to write "sensitive" or "susceptible" or something like that. (Just a well-meaning remark especially if you, like me, are not a native speaker).
Which is something I find interesting: people talk about "discovery" and reviews of apps being difficult. You're on a device that's sole purpose is internet connectivity! Use the browser, Luke!
I wanted to play (and buy) a game the other day. It turned out that unless friend brought and recommended, there is no way to learn about gameplay, difficulty, length, whether there are in app purchases or not etc. The only way to learn those things is to buy and then find out you do not like the game or that it is very short.
It was not big deal for me, I googled for couple of hours and them brought nothing.
There are hundreds of games being published every day and only maybe 1% of them are any good. That IS discovery problem and it is problem mainly for game developers. Since customers like me have no way to distinguish between those good games and bad games, we buy something random and then see.
The result is that good and bad games earn the same, since they are largely brought on random. The main losers are here good games developers.
I wonder if there is a solution for that then? The same way as things like Polygon keep on top of standard games, a mobile focused review site that has far higher quality than regular "review sites" (that yeah, most of which are pretty terrible).
They are only four once. It's right now or it doesn't happen. There's no second chance.
I don't think that kids should play a lot of video games (I don't know what they should or should not do, since I'm not a child development expert). But this whole adults looking back at their "organic" childhood as the one true way to grow up ever is getting kind of old.
Lego? Damnit, take those silly toys away from him and give 'em a garn and let them make up their own games. I tell you these advanced toys destroys the natural creativity of children. Give 'em a stick and some garn and they will make up their own games; that's how kids are SUPPOSED to be.
A little. I like to take my son.
You will never regret a moment spent fishing with him.
I'm not waxing wistful for my childhood or for one I didn't have,. I'm waxing wistful for my first years as a parent and for the things I did and wish I had done more
I play video games with my 4 year old. He loves it, and he loves doing it with me more than the games themselves. We take him out lots too, but I have equally fond memories of times I've spent playing games with him as the ones I've spent with him on outdoors activities.
On a tangent: She's very sensitive to the gender of the characters in-game and really insists on playing girls. We were both rather disappointed that GTA V shipped 3 player characters, all male.
It's hard for me to keep priorities in order sometimes. Even when I know, I just forget what really matters. Good luck.
What is this, a novel in the making? The whole strange-person-who-makes-an-unforgettable-impact has to be tied with some actual event, not just a random person who impacts some sage advice, with no build up or context for imparting that sage advice. Being old doesn't quite cut it.
If it's from your own life, then well... I guess we all know one or two eccentric elderly people.
A lot of people came through my office to hear "no" or "yes" or "it depends". Only one of them had much impact on my life and that of my family and that's because the moment wasn't about making money or rather his not fixing to be not making money with his bright idea that wouldn't fly. He was fully present. That's why he could pick me out later in another context and remember what he had said and that's what makes it stick.
Deciding to put aside all the bullshit and be present for a child in a way that sticks is what matters. And it's hard sometimes.
"Jake Garn was sick, was pretty sick. I don't know whether we should tell stories like that. But anyway, Jake Garn, he has made a mark in the Astronaut Corps because he represents the maximum level of space sickness that anyone can ever attain, and so the mark of being totally sick and totally incompetent is one Garn. Most guys will get maybe to a tenth Garn, if that high. And within the Astronaut Corps, he forever will be remembered by that."
Most children will go through a phase where they throw tantrums. Different children have different needs, but for some you just have to let them kick and sream themselves to the realization that it doesn't get them anywere.
So while it might be unfortunate that this interrupts your afternoon shopping, it is no reason to walk over to the parent an lecture them on what they should or shouldn't do, or better yet, tell them they should be ashamed of themselves!
It's not like the parent is having fun or being even remotely not uncomfortable while it happens.
But the problem of course is that for many bystanders it is hard to tell when a child is being a brat, and when a child is being mistreated. Especially if they're not a parent themselves.
People have a deep psychological need for attention, and negative attention is often better than no attention.
Attention is often the best way to both reward and punish someone, by giving or withdrawing it (not through negative attention).
But yes, you need to be prepared for uncomfortable moments at first if you've let them get away with it previously. And you should be consistent - especially with children, consistency makes a huge difference. And for children it of course needs to be much more obvious - with my son I will tell him when I am withdrawing attention, why, and what he can do to get my attention again.
As you know, everyone's opinion on child rearing is the one true way.
We know that some parenting techniques encourage children to play helpless or enraged if it consistently achieves goals they want. We also know that certain types of treatment make them less likely to whine, or cry when hurt.
When Fred Rodgers talks to a little boy and asks him about what makes him really mad inside, is he encouraging temper tantrums, or is he standing in contrast to the spectrum of a boozy mummy and daddy on one side who don't want disruption and a short tempered, beaten down set of parents on the other?
If you live in a highly structured, hierarchical society with a strong patronage system, your children are probably going to live better lives if you breed a strong sense of deference to authority. If that isn't the case, being kind of mousy might find them mousy lives.
Whining may be really unpleasant for any adult in the vicinity, yet unjustified whining from a 4 year old is not the same as unjustified whining from a 25 year old. If it's unjustified the 25 year old is choosing to be a victim. On the other hand, the 4 year old does not have the rational or emotional capacity to judge what is or is not the end of the world. You can train the 4 year old to no longer whine, by focusing on the whining and making that a singular, traumatic event. And yet, what you probably want, is for your child to fight back on things that actually matter, and also to use more effective means than pathetic whining.
--Ineffective, bad argumentation techniques used on embarrassingly unimportant topics-- And yet, a four year old is unlikely to see that as the banner. Instead, they are likely to see, mommy or daddy goes nuclear if I insist "I must have".
You remembered the incident clear enough to make the connection that it was a a dumb issue that your toddler self were pushing, but another toddler would have just interpreted it as a statement about who was in charge, or for it to be wrong to feel strongly. In the grown up world, how often do people unjustifiably feel that it is presumptuous to ask for a raise. Or, how much innovation has been hindered by people bowing their head when their boss ignores their idea, rather than going out on their own and putting their former employer out of business.
Anyway, back to the original topic, programs with in-app purchases are intended to get money, and some are sophisticated enough to manipulate adults into spending more than they otherwise would. There are a few options here. You can have a teachable moment: don't ask mommy and daddy for things. Or the teachable moment: <long explanation about the subtleties of marketing, which your 4yo won't understand anyway>. Or finally, a short time with a game <without in-app purchases>, then later some fun finger painting.
Since, sadly, the presence of some childish behaviors that are unpleasant to adults are better than their absence, an absence of triggers can be nice. You can know how to scare your child from whining, decide not to, but also hold the combination of beliefs that you don't want to spoil them and you don't want to hear whining on this particular car trip. You know that just buying whatever is not a viable choice, but it would be nice if such teachable moments only occurred in the grocery checkout line rather than also in the car.
So teach them? Isn't that what the parent post was saying?
You also have to teach kids to brush their teeth every night. That's 365 times a year. Is that unrealistic to teach them, too? Or is teaching them to brush their teeth an instant process?
Their free app of the week is often so-called free games but they almost always have in-app purchases that's required to take full advantage of the game.
Take some responsibility and stop asking the government to be your nanny.
Such games are often misleading, since they are not really free. The 'Free' label is just used because people will impulse-install a free application more quickly than a paid application and in the end an addicted gamer will probably spend more through in-app purchases.
I think there is a good middle ground that can be found. Instead of listing in-app purchases separately, Apple, Google, et al. could make three options:
- Free with in app-purchases
It would also be nice if every app store listed all the in-app purchases. Then I, as a customer, can consider beforehand whether I found the prices to be acceptable.
Say "Free game of the week with paid IAP still included", I don't have a problem with this.
I mean, damn. Do these same people go to a club, get in for free, and then wonder why they still have to pay for drinks?
> Say "Free game of the week with paid IAP still included", I don't have a problem with this.
I guarantee that using that wording, people would think that the paid IAP was included with the "Free game of the week." I mean, they are already dumb enough to see a price and ignore it.
If it's "125 tokens for $10", that's not really telling you the price. Video arcades used this abstraction tactic successfully. Make people convert money upfront, make the exchange rate difficult to calculate mentally, ensure that the user is left with worthless "change" so they top up again, to avoid being left with sunk costs.
If every time an IAP is offered it showed prices in real $/€, people would think twice.
For my part, I've stopped installing stuff that "offers" this because of the lack of details, but it's extremely annoying to end up clicking through dozens of games to find ones without in-app purchasing because it's not called out in the search results... They've clearly done the bare minimum, in order to avoid losing installs over it. If they cared about their users, they'd have made it far more obvious.
* Game costs average $1 per month, SD 20¢; OK cool.
* Game is "free" costs average of $20 per month, SD $5.
* Game is free. Average $0 per month.
* Game is 99¢ fixed. Average $0 additional per month.
Even better they could give a playing time [weighted average] too. Then you could compare:
* Game is "free" costs average of $20 per month, SD $5; $1 per hour of play.
* Game costs average $1 per month, SD 20¢; $2 per hour of play.
Seems about as likely as getting the supermarkets to clearly display the cost per kg of all food items.
If companies are intentionally gaming the system to mislead people with intent to profit from us, yes, I do want the government to get involved because nobody else will fix it. Apple's the curator and they're doing it, the app developers are doing it, so who do we have left to complain to?
It's the government's responsibility to make sure companies follow the laws and not take advantage of people.
I do not have a problem with IAP, I'm okay with companies trying to make money via that method.
However, I do have a problem with companies saying those are free games where they aren't free and have paid requirements to keep playing the game.
WTF? Those free games don't cost you a thing, too! And damn, if you don't want to pay, you don't have to. Apple tells you straight out if a game, free or otherwise, has IAP. They provide you with prices.
What more do you want?
> I do have a problem with companies saying those are free games where they aren't free and have paid requirements to keep playing the game.
So... your problem is that you don't enjoy some free games? You think if a game isn't good enough, it shouldn't be free? That's harsh.
Of all the first world problems to have, this really takes the cake.
People want clarity of information.
You keep saying that the price is listed. But IAPs are hidden behind an extra click. This might seem trivial to you but it is the kind of thing that the EU regulates and most citizens are pleased they do so.
Take another example. In the UK if you're a business marketing to the public and you advertise goods you must include the VAT in the advertised price. The end user almost always has to pay the VAT so it's nonsensical to advertise a product to the public without it.
Today Apple has a featured game which they call free. You click it to get to the game page and it is listed at free+. You scroll down and click IAPs and see that they offer an IAP for £34.99 - that's $58
Apple scoops up a lot of the IAP money and so it is in their interest to push games with IAPs, and it is dishonest of them to push games as free if those games are not truly free.
It is this dishonest advertising model that has driven app prices to such a low point. Someone honestly advertising a game at £5 is going to struggle to make any money.
Let's see. Game section, and the top free game I see is Disco Zoo. It's advertised as free. It's described as best new game.
Okay, let's see, still free. Swipey Swipey swipe. Pretty pictures, Game Center, and oh look! IAP. But yres, I need to tsp to see those prices.
So yeah, it's battleship meets zoos. You earn gold in game and use that to fund your battle shipping excursions. I guess if I'm impatient I can just buy more gold. Yep.
Yes yes, I see your point! The game is clearly not free! I have to buy that gold instead of playing the game.
Thank god the EU is there to tackle the horrors of Disco Zoo.
Seriously, the only dishonesty here are the people claims of suffering from this.
In the EU the price you see is the price you pay. Weights and measures are standardised so people can compare proces across different stores.
In the US the price you see is less than the price you pay. You add sales tax. That makes it harder to compare prices.
The problem isn't that apps cost money nor that they offer IAPs. The problem is the lack of tranparency with apps. This means that good quality apps with honest procing are penalised by lower quality apps that hide the cost in IAPs but describe themselves as free.
You only need to look at the App Store to see how dysfunctional the current system is.
I realy don't know why you are so aggressively dismissive of something that would allow developers to advertise their software at a sensible real cost and not have to compete with shitty "free" apps that hide the cost in IAPs.
If they're saying it's the free game of the week, people actually understood it to mean it's actually free. Several of my friends and family members got confused with this and actually thought the IAP was free as well.
> So... your problem is that you don't enjoy some free games? You think if a game isn't good enough, it shouldn't be free? That's harsh.
What does enjoyment have to do with anything? That wasn't the point, the point is the marketing, not the games itself. I don't have a problem with the games, I have a problem with the marketing saying they're free entirely.
You from a parent comment: "Their free app of the week is often so-called free games but they almost always have in-app purchases that's required to actually enjoy the game."
> Several of my friends and family members got confused with this and actually thought the IAP was free as well.
Yep. I'm done.
No, the games are free.
> You can't call your food pesticide-free or GM-free or gluten-free unless it really is.
Yeah, not even the same thing.
You didn't clarify that in your original post here. If I understood this is what you meant then I would've edited my post to remove the "fun" part but rather change it with "take full advantage of".
If Plaint and Zombies were advertised as a free game, you download it but it only lets you play 5 minutes before you have to pay, then that's not a free game. It's a free demo/trial.
> Yeah, not even the same thing.
Yes, it is in this point we're making. The people didn't make this happen, it required the intervention of the government to mandate this type of information accuracy.
What? That was literally in reply to your post which I replied to.
"Their free app of the week is often so-called free games but they almost always have in-app purchases that's required to actually enjoy the game."
You were talking about enjoyment from the beginning.
> Yes, it is in this point we're making
Not sure you know what point you are making.
Sorry, I'm done dealing with people who act like trolls.
Given that almost all of us arguing from either side would probably agree with this, there are two obvious options:
1. Allow the current situation, in which you can market anything as free, literally an app that does nothing without spending on IAP, so long as it is free to download
2. Prevent the use of the term 'free' if IAP is present at all.
In the interests of the consumer, to offer protection from unscrupulous companies which, particularly in this marketplace, have demonstrated some pretty unethical practises, I favour the latter.
Not the exact same thing, but not that different either. If I spray my fruits with pesticides that then get washed off in the rain, or stay in the crust which I remove before selling, I could reasonably argue that they are "pesticide-free". It's the government that forbids me to market them that way.
That's not a helpful response. If you want to disagree - why is this different?
It makes sense to me for 'free' to mean 'free forever'. You could call it 'free to download' or whatever. Its basically false or misleading advertising to call something 'free' which you could end up paying for...
Apple is very big. It has a lot of people, and a lot of money, and a lot of clout.
Government is the countervailing force that, collectively, weak citizens can use to push back against private power. The word isn't "nanny", it's "guardian". It's "advocate".
There's a tragic irony in the fact that government routinely uses supposed consent to justify violence, while Apple (as far as I know, although shady stuff might happen from time to time) actually obtains consent from its stakeholders.
Apple doesn't have to go around telling everyone "It's okay that we take your money in exchange for our products, because you actively consent to the exchange," because everyone knows that's how it works. And yet government, which plainly doesn't work that way, is the one that hammers into our heads the lie that the exchange is consensual. It would be laughable, except that so many people actually get fooled.
Apple doesn't have to do that because we don't rely on it to safeguard our life, liberty, and property. If it disappeared tomorrow the economy would take a hit but life would go on.
You are free to avoid me killing you. Just leave your house and never come back so I can live in your house in peace. Ridiculous logic.
At best, that just renews the consent of those who do consent. If I didn't vote, or voted for the losing candidate or option, then I am still governed despite not consenting.
That's precisely my point. It's a linguistic trick to make it sound like an exchange is justified despite there not actually being consent. The analogy would be Apple forcefully taking x hundred dollars from you, giving you an iPhone, then saying the exchange is justified because 50.1% of the smartphone market consensually buys iPhones. (I made up that number, obviously.)
That is the consent of the governed.
Seriously, take some responsibility.
If products are being sold deceptively, there's a public interest in preventing that. Responsibility has nothing to do with it.
So? That's part of the conversation? Either join in or leave.
> If products are being sold deceptively
They aren't. They are free. Money doesn't exchange hands. You are getting a game you can play for free.
Alternatively: Me leave? After you, pal.
As to your second point: The product being sold in question is the in-app purchase, not the original app. The app, however, could be part of a deceptive marketing practice.
Not being a citizen of a EU member state nor an expert in its legal system, I am content to leave this decision up to its regulatory apparatus. If the citizens of any EU member country are dissatisfied, they can elect governments that will leave the union, or elect Members of European Parliament that will change the rules.
But then who will protect my children from things I disagree with???
Ban allowing people to give free samples. They only make people believe that they can get more of what they want for free. Who are they to arbitrarily define how much a "sample" is when they use the word free? It's all or nothing, folks, stop trying to con the rest of us!
Ban allowing people to do charity work. If people don't want to become my personal slave, then they shouldn't have offered to open the door for me. Super simple stuff.
We could make Candy Crush as exciting as opening a bank account!
"Can be played for free" is not deceptive but doesn't push the right buttons to manipulate people in to engaging before you hit them up for cash; they can see it coming and so many won't play.
Mandating better information for consumers seems unlikely to be wrong in almost all cases. [A counterexample would be if it's prohibitively expensive for companies generally to give the information].
I can't remember where the article is that I read about all this though.
> Another novel way to use a progress gate is to make it look transparent, but to use it as the partition between the skill game and the money game. Candy Crush Saga employs this technique artfully. In that game there is a “river” that costs a very small amount of money to cross. The skill game comes before the river. A player may spend to cross the river, believing that the previous skill game was enjoyable (it was for me) and looking to pay to extend the skill game. No such guarantee is given of course, King just presents a river and does not tell you what is on the other side. The money game is on the other side, and as the first payment is always the hardest, those that cross the river are already prequalified as spenders. Thus the difficulty ramps up to punishing levels on the far side of the river, necessitating boosts for all but the most pain tolerant players.
I'm not going anywhere with this, just wondering about the staggering amount of time that gets sucked into games like candy crush.
Even I am at level 450 before I kinda quit playing it.
> If those had been paid hours, how much money would they have earned in that time?
This is no different from playing other games or activities. Unless you are pushing this particular game as evil, I don't see the point of saying "he could have spent that time doing better thing than watching movie or playing game I don't like".
Also, isn't it great that I can spent my time on a single game instead of having to move on to new game all the time?
These game should not be mingled with free games and parents should have an option to forbid them.
From a regulatory perspective, I'm afraid the best we can do is:
* Ban tying game mechanics to time outside the game, whether it's "wait 8 hours unless you pay" or "this reward is only available for 4 hours" or an insidious combination of the two.
* Increase transparency, e.g. by asking app stores to show graphs of (time played) vs (money spent).
"The use of the word "free" (or similar) may be tolerated for games which are not entirely free, if it is complemented by appropriate qualifications characterising upfront in a clear manner what elements are for free and which ones can be purchased. In such cases, the consumer should be able to access discrete parts of the game that stand alone without the need to make purchases. "Free" may not be used where the consumer cannot, without making in-app purchases, access content integral to gameplay or play the game in a way that he/she would reasonably expect. "
Essentially, the customer must know what parts are free and which have to be paid for prior download. There is going to be grey zone of course, but if you app have paywall, it shall not be called free.
On the other hand, you can sell custom avatars or additional levels and call your app free, as long as the description says something like: playing first five levels of the game is for free, but custom avatars and additional content have to be paid for.
However, if you an adult, and you have purchased $100s of iAP, and now you feel bad about it, I have 0 sympathy for you.
Overall, this is just EU being EU, nothing surprising.
So you understand that companies like King design their "free" games to be next-to-impossible if you don't give them money, while employing teams of psychologists to determine the best way to subvert your will through forced failure while simultaneously driving manipulative CTAs at you while you are at your (carefully cultivated) most vulnerable? And, understanding that and with that first and foremost in your mind, you have no sympathy for the people who end up on the business end of that psychological weapon?
Because I certainly do. There are economies of scale to the practice of subverting people's will and in this war one side's got all the guns. These games are designed--designed--to hit the same triggers as a fucking gambling addiction, man. I am so very not OK with abandoning those wired less effectively against it. (And as I get older I can see how insidious and easy it is for this shit to worm into me when I never would have noticed it, or thought it possible, a decade ago.)
You seem to be making a distinction between people who pay money for "legitimate" enjoyment, and people who spend money for what they think is legitimate enjoyment but is actually just a trick. I'm not convinced this is a meaningful dichotomy, and I've never heard anyone even try to explain what the difference is. I'm not a big fan of strict normative statements about where I can or can't spend my money on entertainment.
Not that I don't think Apple should take a step to call out their "free" games that happen to rake in tons of cash - when their top grossing list has mostly "free" games, that's a big sign that "free ain't free".
Many good games have reasonable iAP (e.g.: Carcassonne, Ascension). As soon as I see any tokens, I don't buy it.
Unless the game is theorically impossible to beat, then you are a sucker for wanting to use money to substitute for your practice.
Seriously, you are the one paying money just so you can show off to your friend that you beat the same level other spends weeks to beat, and then the company offering IAP is the douche one?
It cares about setting proper expectations: you're going to have to pay to finish the game/really use the app.
I think that's not a bad idea to mark it clearly as such.
As a dev I have no control whether to call my app "Free" or "Free to download but contains IAP that are required to use the whole game."
Apple has two categories, "Free" and "Paid" and places your app in the category automatically depending on whether the download price is nonzero.
So really, if you want to blame anyone, blame the app store creators, not the app creators.
(Of course there's still the ability to blame companies who market their apps as "FREE" in advertisements in other apps).
EDIT: And of course Apple has already added the label "Includes In App Purchases" to free games with IAP. I think that's good enough.
The order of priority just feels wrong.
On the other hand the apps that throw up full screen ads with tiny, hidden close buttons are annoying. Mostly they seem designed to provoke accidental clicks, which don't seem to offer any social value at all.
(Also, no one seems to note that fake free apps are undermining honest for pay apps, a model which people here seem to support).
"Consumers and in particular children need better protection against unexpected costs from in-app purchases."
What are unexpected costs? Are users ever charged without explicitly agreeing to it?
"The use of the word 'free' (or similar unequivocal terms) as such, and without any appropriate qualifications, should only be allowed for games which are indeed free in their entirety, or in other words which contain no possibility of making in-app purchases, not even on an optional basis."
What is the cost of someone downloading a 'free' game only to realize that they need to pay to get the experience that they expected? They can just uninstall the game. I've paid for and downloaded games that didn't deliver the experience I expected.
If the goal is protecting kids from making in-app purchases, maybe parents should learn how to use parental controls, or not attach credit cards to their children's devices. Does this really 'protect' anyone, or does it just change the language that game-makers use for this model, and nothing else?
Just a naming game ... no real progress, yet.
Clever companies will always find ways, to fool not so clever people. I also think, that most people know, that F2P is not really free.
this could also highlight apps that are truley free
Although I'm cynical enough to not expect this, things could be partitioned into "grant access to people with no payment on file" and "need payment on file to download this app".
The point is not to label them as free, so the customers can rely on the usual meaning of the word free. And when the app is about to charge money, the customer should be clearly informed it is about to do so, even if he did not turned on "require password before purchase" option.
The problem is the deception, not the ability to buy things from inside the app.
Fortunately I get them refunded when I complain, but it's still a stupid policy.
It costs money to develop games and apps. A quality title might cost over a million dollars in development. What makes the consumer believe they deserve to get it for free?
iAPs are not necessarily evil - they are a great and perfect way of pricing things for different subsets of people. If you reduce iAP revenue, you make developers more driven toward ad revenue.
Personally I would like games with in app purchases to be in the "paid" category with a price "0" (or "0+"). Maybe even include how much the average player pays for it. I don't much care whether this is achieved through regulations, or done by companies themselves.
Apple has featured a game today that they have listed as free. The largest IAP is $55, but that price is hidden behind extra clicks. This means that when a consumer is comparing two apps they have extra work to do to compare true prices.
This hidden pricing has cause harm.
Developers cannot advertise a game with an honest price. An app sold at £5.99 would struggle in todays app store. So devs have to list games as free but with IAPs.
And you don't need to buy IAP to beat most game. This is like saying I can't list my shop as having "free" shipping because people prefer to pay more for overnight delivery.
Your point about overnight delivery is reasonable. Some games are playable without IAPs. But some games have a degraded experience without IAPs - timers that the player need to wait for is one example - and some games are going to be unfun without IAPs.
I've enjoyed many free games that others complained they had to pay to play. PvZ2, for example.
And then let's apply this thought process to every startup out there offering a free tier. How quickly people would turn around if I put conditions: "Your Free tier ain't free if I can't use it for real business."
Some, though, seem rather ineffectual. If the App Store and Google Play replace the button that says "Free" with one that says something else, and the game still doesn't cost anything up-front, is that really going to change anyone's behavior?
Yes. Customer psychology is a fascinating thing. Even changing $100 to $99.9 generates more sales. And there are tons of examples like that (from the importance of colors to the important of shelf placement on supermarket). Wording is important.
I think it's not about in-app purchases being made without consent. The real issue is that a game with in-app purchases is not a "free" game exactly, it's like what we used to call shareware or light version. It's a different experience than with totally free games.
Better labeling is always in the consumer's interest. If games and other apps encourage in-app purchasing for a good experience then this info should be clearly on the packaging. And I say this as an app developer with in app purchases!
Apple already shows this info but may have to label it better.
But as a parent of a 2 year old, I am not pleased with some kids games developers trying to take advantage of children (and I'm talking toddlers) using devices where parents haven't blocked IAP, or placing ads that they presumably get click-revenue from kids not understanding what they're clicking on...
"Free to play" should not be a model which says, "Free, but in order to actually, well, WIN, you need to pay". Take a look at Dota 2. Thats a successful f2p model. Game itself is 100% free and you can be a top player without paying a DIME.
It's like a store saying everyone can have a free t-shirt. But then requiring that you buy $10 of stuff from the store first. You would still call that shirt free?
Companies making a killing on IAP these days are no different from Jamster mobile club and its kin.
Regulations will catch up soon enough but no doubt by then some other avenue for bilking kids out of their cash will have presented itself by then.
Maybe European Commission could do something about that too, it would most definitely be welcome.
They are the only ones fighting the good fight for the consumer these days. Thanks to the lack of campaign finance reform in the U.S., all our pols are on the take to those with the deepest pockets.
The EU should not invent its own.