Let's go even further and have them ban consumable IAPs. There's almost no legitimate use case for them other than creating pretend currencies that make people hit the skinner box lever harder and spend more money.
"Indeed, a major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that it ... gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself."
Sure, Apple can do with its platform what it wishes, but the arguments I see being put forth here are troubling. "The ignorant masses are making the 'wrong' choices for themselves, and we in our benevolent wisdom should substitute our preferences for theirs." Where does that sort of thinking end?
There's a fundamental disconnect we have between our short term and long term interests, and it manifests in all kinds of problems people end up with, including their health, finances, and relationships. There's an overwhelming body of psychological evidence that suggests that these issues are real, prevalent, exploitable and exploited.
To give an example, there's evidence that shows that we're more likely to succumb to temptation when we're mentally exhausted. If that's not bad enough, actively resisting temptation is exhausting!  That's why putting a snack bar full of M&Ms, Snickers, and apples near a bunch of stressed out engineers leads to a more unhealthy workplace (guess which snack is always left over). You can say that the engineers are free to not partake, and I say there's more freedom to focus on other things in their absence.
To bring it back to this topic, I think computers need mechanisms to help people with self-control, and a great first step is to curtail software that exists to exploit people with poor impulse control.
There's a saying that I am reminded of:
"The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master."
This is the argument against the legalization of hard drugs. You hear it most often from ex-addicts "we can't legalize meth, I was tweaking out so hard I'm surprised I turned my life around and I'm not dead!".
As emotionally appealing as they are, their arguments are false. First, criminalization didn't actually prevent them from getting hooked. Nor, as it turns out, did their bad life experiences somehow outweigh the lack of freedom imposed on everyone else.
The only people more mentally ill than the overeaters and the tweakers and the junkies are the screwed-in-the-head busybodies rushing from social issue to social issue hellbent on saving people from themselves.
Personally, I think promoting education and awareness (and providing training) to people wishing to improve their willpower would be preferable to further empowering the immense coercive apparatus of the state to interfere in the minute details of our lives.
People lacking willpower will always find ways to self-sabotage, so helping them increase their willpower would be far more efficient than trying to ban every single thing that their poor willpower could render harmful to them.
Considering how willpower is a predictor for success in many facets of life, techniques (scientifically verified ones, not the mumbo-jumbo ones) that improve willpower and concentration would seem like perfect candidates for addition to school curricula. Meditation is generally quite a subjectively pleasant experience, so if people could be taught to do it even once they might decide to keep it up in future purely for the sensation it brings them.
Too look at the freedom thing another way, I may have no right to stop someone from trying to fly away off a cliff but if it looks like they are just about to jump to their doom I feel I should step in.
Though I agree it's a dangerous line that could be drawn anywhere between requirements to go to church, prohibition, scams, and the ability to sell yourself into slavery.
The dominance of IAPs is not something engineered by the game makers, it's just that it is so much more lucrative it is what enables the production values of modern mobile titles to be what they are. Many game makers would prefer it if you could charge somewhere around $5 per title and make a decent amount from honest players, but unless you have some uberbrand crossover from console land that's not going to work.
I would argue that this pattern is an irrationality that must be corrected with force :
When faced with a choice of selecting one of several available products (or possibly buying nothing), according to standard theoretical perspectives, people will choose the option with the highest cost–benefit difference. However, we propose that decisions about free (zero price) products differ, in that people do not simply subtract costs from benefits and perceive the benefits associated with free products as higher.
That is, users systematically spring for games with lower cost-benefit tradeoffs simply because they are offered for free. While this would be economically infeasible for game developers, they've figured out how to take advantage of other psychological breakdowns to extract revenue. On a larger scale I'm not sure this makes users as happy as they could be.
Except that's not what the paper says. It just notes that the decision-making process that goes on in people's heads doesn't just include the monetary cost (duh), and that when one option is "free" some other non-monetary factor is revealed (e.g., removing the mental cost of even having to do a cost/benefit analysis).
That said, I'm troubled by your notion that when people's actual behaviour does not conform to a model, the problem is with the people.
But you raise an interesting point. It could well be that the "mental cost of even having to do a cost/benefit analysis" is too high for many people to consider paid options. That reenforces the proposal that Apple should wean users off of low (even negative) utility free options and train them to make such evaluations efficiently, the way many of us who are used to paying for software can. Again, all of this predicated on the thesis that benefit - cost - mental cost (which improves as we learn how to evaluate software) of many paid apps is higher than the average benefit of free apps.
As for my notion that people's actual behavior doesn't conform to a model of rationality, perhaps we should agree to disagree. There is plenty of research to suggest that people are bad at making calculations and require intervention.
Apple stands to gain nothing if users don't pay up - 30% of 0 is 0. Therefore they need to eliminate 0-dollar items from the market - but you can't go straight and do it because it would cause an uproar. So they make it infeasible for game developers to offer free games, and will extract the selling commission from the resulting non-zero priced games.
The amount of trickery I have seen in IAPs is disgusting.
Admittedly this does poison the well for many other game developers, but the reality is getting attention in the current mobile market is close to impossible without an enormous spend, so conservatism of business model is going to rule the roost now.
It also doesn't help that self professed hardcore gamers undervalue mobile titles enormously, and that touch controls just aren't good enough for many purposes either.
Or you can buy online, and wait until tomorrow for your items but pay less again.
But being able to skip the line for a few bucks is great. I do the same when flying, too.
Paying to be prioritized in a system with limited resources is one thing, paying to get rid of an entirely artificial restriction is quite something else.
Sure, all mechanics in all games are man-made, but to continue the analogy, we're talking about an entirely artificial wait time to check out that's been specifically optimized to make you pay for the "express" checkout. In other words, the wait exists for no reason except to extract more money from you.
The whole core of the argument is that developers used to optimize the mechanics of the game for fun and enjoyment, and now instead optimize the mechanics for how frequently and continually they can suck money out of your pockets. There is now a gigantic philosophical and developmental gap between the "pay once" and "pay monthly" business models and the "pay always" business model.
Being able to skip boarding line means a: I can hang out in the lounge until a bit later, or b: get on the plane earlier so I can order drinks, get comfy and start sleeping or reading or whatever.
Being up front also means getting in before a ton of people at customs, sometimes. So that might be another 30-40 minutes of standing around in some cases (or worse).
Footwork Neutrality! (/s)
My guess was this is more likely to offed American consumer's egalitarian sentiment and the revenue from membership would pale in comparison to the PR hit. Or maybe it's just inertia from early grocery store practices.
One shouldn't underestimate the sheer effort required to get even trivial revenue from any one app, regardless of genre or quality.
You highly overestimate the ability to judge a winner ahead of time. If only the products we knew we're going to be "decent" got made, we'd have a considerably less innovative society.
Not to mention that this is all just completely subjective. I know plenty of people hat are legitimately happy with their "trash games" (just like certain tv...), and who am I to explain to them what they should actually like?
See: every generation of video gaming.
But it doesn't necessarily follow that mobile games have to be digital crack. If a game can't survive on <$100 of IAPs per user, I'd be happy to see that game not exist.
Here's the simple measuring stick: If spending money on IAP is a substitute for skill in terms of game progression, it's a societal negative.
It exploits those least able to make good decisions. And it ruins what may have once been good games for the rest of us. What might be a really good game is distorted by the IAP market. You are monetarily rewarded for adding subtle gates that are very difficult to pass without spending money.
And worst thing about all this? Ask the people who spend a bunch of money if they really think the game is fun. Go ahead - ask them.
I suspect that an element of (for example) Candy Crush's success is that it is actually very close to what people are looking for out of a game. People who self-identify as "gamers" are likely repulsed by it, but they are generally not the people who Candy Crush was made for.
This Gamasutra article on ethical free-to-play gaming comes to mind and foreshadowed Apples move - http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/207779/ethical_freetop...
Edit: I'm referring to mobile - "New research shows free-to-play on mobile isn't slowing down" http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/211333/New_research_shows...
You can't be so black and white about IAP.
This is completely absurd. Look at Steam. Or every game console.
2. Gaming experience
Steam users or console owners have spent time, money or both just to have the equipment to play games. I'm guessing that the same market that buys consoles buys smartphones, so they may be more likely to buy good phone games. But maybe not! I mean, they have a console at home so if a game they want is cross platform maybe they prefer to play it on that?
The gaming experience is also hugely different. They are converging, but there are still so many differences. That blazing fast new processor doesn't do much for controls, screen size, battery life, multiplayer - all of these are things that stop phones from competing with consoles directly. My guess is this is a reason that the top games are time wasters.
Developers can pull a game from the Android or iOS markets at any time and unless you somehow made a backup, you'll never get to play it again if you happened to reset your device or get a new one. With steam though, my game library stays there, even if the developer no longer sells the game on Steam (happened with the Wolfenstein game that came out a few years ago). Also, many mobile games also depend on server side resources and won't function without them.
It is crammed with "free" games that have long lists of IAPs to remove slow-down timers and similar.
Note that this reviewer calls it "tacky".
Do you have a counter example?
It's technically IAP consumables, but it doesn't seem skeevy like the clash of clans / candy crushes of the world.
The problem you mention is very much a "I'll know it when I see it" type thing - I'd trust Apple to bring down the hammer on someone trying to rules-lawyer their way around the restriction.
Its impractical to think every reviewer can spend enough time with every game to make the right call.
Clash of Clans is a good example, the "use gems to skip build timers" mechanic is revealed during the opening tutorial.
They start out reasonable, seconds to minutes, soon a day or two, and quickly scale up to the point where everything you want to do takes weeks of real time. And that's before you get into the other resources required!
Calling CoC and its mechanics an RTS is an insult to RTSes. When I queue up a Portal in Starcraft 2, I do not wait for a full week with the option to spend $4 to finish it instantly.
And another thing, the "you don't have to buy/play it" argument is really non-sequitur when we're considering app store policies whose reason for existing is banning annoying behavior. The entire point of games like CoC is to manipulate vulnerabilities in the human decision making process for great profit. CoC is basically Farmville with battles, which is crap for the same reason that Zynga and all their "games" are crap.
A simple test: Could the paid consumables be removed and replaced with game-earned items only with no negative impact to the experience? If yes, the paid consumables are probably crap.
If these "RTS" (keep in mind, its just marketing) games are only designed to be played a few minutes a day, over weeks and months, it could be easily continually engaging. Much like a late night show or your weekly Game of Thrones.
For that reason, you probably aren't the target market. Having a fleet of IAP testers (who are humans and get sick, quit their job, change positions) that are fully trained in all the existing games as well as being experts in game mechanics and can quickly understand new IAPs and new game types as they emerge is a very myopic and naive view of the world.
The "scam" argument boiled down to its core is really a moral judgement. With that I'd say good luck attempting to scale that and not piss someone important off.
Basically, people are criticizing games where it is possible to spend a ridiculously large (or inifinte) amount of money. Any loopholes should be obvious enough that they're not a problem.
But that's not really the point anyway - there's absolutely no reason they couldn't say consumable IAPs can only be used for media. IIRC they did something similar when they started subscriptions and background content updates.
However, that would just mean that the games with consumable IAPs will switch to subscription IAPs (where the subscription is short - probably a few hours to a few days at most). I'm not sure how much better that is.
The difference between digital media and game items can be made very, very small.
Also, I don't think the issue is with consumables. For example, that magic book I mentioned above becomes your property ever after in the same sense that an ebook you buy at Amazon or Apple becomes your property. Similarly, I could sell you the eternal right to take a shortcut in some virtual world. With enough shortcuts (and the matching long boring detours that people not owning the right to use them) one still can make a game that many would judge to be more an attempt at getting ever more money from its players than a game.
Finally, in real life, we are fine buying consumables all the time, and we also are willing to pay seemingly arbitrary amounts of money for them. For example, for many, $10 for a cup of coffee is absurd. Yet, there also are many who happily pay it, if the situation is right.
So, it's not selling consumables, it is milking your users that people object to.
Apple already thought of that, and it's specifically prohibited by the App Store Review Guidelines:
> Apps may only use auto renewing subscriptions for periodicals (newspapers, magazines), business Apps (enterprise, productivity, professional creative, cloud storage) and media Apps (video, audio, voice), or the App will be rejected
I think a big problem with Apple is that the whole review process is a black box, because the documentation is thin, contrary, or non-existent. You basically have to submit and hope they accept your app and when it's rejected, the reasons are often arbitrary or contrary to previous submissions that were excepted.
But I agree with everyone else, IAP's are the meth in the AppStore ghetto.
"Consumer win" is giving them choice.
Users spend millions of dollars on IAPs, because it was relevant to them. This created an entire industry of game developers, artists, story writers, that rely on IAPs to keep their apps free.
Without IAP, they would have to charge upfront for the app. While it is certainly an option, I'd prefer to let developers and customers figure out the model they want, rather than having Apple or Google enforcing it.
Anyway, IAP is one of the most important pillars of Apple's mobile strategy, so it obviously isn't going away anytime soon.
So, yes, short-term there's demand. There's a market signal that says "this is totally what people want". But mid- and long-term it's bad for the platform because it leads to shitty customer/user experience. It will still make companies money for a while - but the consumers are burning away. And it's really hard to recover from that.
IAP isn't going away, but seeing Apple burn a little bit of potential profit to keep the store relatively high quality shouldn't be that surprising.
These ads pushers are already circumventing the app store. FreeMyApps uses a website and iOS device profile instead. Will Apple revoke their certificates?
Real Racing 3, and Trials Frontier both offer consumable IAPs that mostly remove waiting, or a boring portion of the gameplay. One can compete in game to earn the same money, and wait for repairs... or they can spend money and keep playing. So far I have not spent any money on these games (I am not a good target market for much of anything, so don't read too much into me playing free games), but I enjoy them a lot, and the developers are making a decent business out of it.
Consumable IPAs give developers a chance to get as much money as possible from each person playing. From me that might be $0, but many people are likely to spend more than the $4.99 that would otherwise be the target app price. This seems like the ideal business model to me.
Google is of no use here and wikipedia links to this:
None of which look right:)
And the bad thing is, there is no filter in the store for these junk applications. Gameloft has a really fun game called Rival Knights, but I stopped playing because after 10 levels of making me like the game, they started asking me to wait more and more to keep playing - or guess guess: Buy some "Royal Ribbons" (play tokens) for real money.
What a crock! I have a kickass ipad but I can't find honest games that don't nickel and dime me.
Actually I just googled and found http://honestandroidgames.com/ - same deal, the good ones are probably on iOS too with the same model.
No chance whilst Apple gets a 30% cut.
As far as Apple promoting Candy Crush, there's a question about whether this is a cause or effect of its popularity.
"Even Candy Crush uses it" is not the best argument for this developer's point. It is the best argument for Apple's shift in enforcement.
Step 2, charge developers for "sponsored" placement in the App store.
When your "marketing channel" is my Facebook news feed, then yes, this is absolutely what should happen.
What OP said is right. This is about Apple having tighter control over the app marketplace, not your news feed.
I don't see anything about restricting use of Adwords, eliminating the "direct to app store" URL infrastructure in Safari, or even telling you not to let users share your app with their friends via social media.
All Apple is doing is telling you that you can't incentivize (read: effectively require) users to do pollute their friends news feeds, which is already a distasteful spam tactic and socially unacceptable. Whatever the ulterior motives, this discourages bad behavior and is still better for users.
one rewards spamming, the other involves a game mechanic where you ask your friend to do something for you(though it's possible to bug your friends that have nothing to do with the game, if you are inconsiderate person). It's O.K. to ask your friends for a help but it's still your duty to think about bothering if your friend would be annoyed or not.
The whole experience is completely untrustworthy as an app which requires an average spend of £20+ to use properly is considered more "Free" than an app which costs £2.99.
It's made a complete mockery of prices.
Fixed prices are popular for a reason and I hope Apple learns this and starts properly surfacing information as well as categorising based on the reality of an App's "price."
What you really need is a value that represents that amount you need to pay to actually enjoy the app which would be a lot harder to quantify.
You'll likely see a long flat line at 0 for the first 95% and then a steep curve up for the last 5%.
If an app has high-quality in-app purchases, you will likely see that the curve slopes up slower.
I take a coffee break and fire the addictive social game "Boom Beach".
My troops are ready and I am ready to attack the neighbors.
I buy a 5 USD tea + 3 USD water bottle (both I can get free at my office).
The attack doesn't go well. One little error. My break is about to end, but I want to try one more time. Just that, it will take 2 hours to train my troops.
Or Wait, 1.99 USD to speed that up. Hours of planning, that went for the attack and just 2 USD to find out if I was right or wrong. Is it worth it ? I look at my coffee and water, the time, the ending break, the distractions till this is resolved. It's worth it. And while I am putting in 2USD, might as well take the 10USD deal for next 20 battles. Better spent than "expensive-than-movie" popcorn. Ban that first.
3 tanks does take a long time but every other unit trains in a fraction of the time tanks do. Tanks take longer because you will often take no casualties with them.
I see it as a win as a consumer and a win as a developer.
May I suggest you simply add a banner ad to the game, and then provide a single IAP to remove the banner ad, for players who don't like them? I hate banner ads, so if it's a good game I'll gladly pay a few dollars to kill the ads (and if it's bad game, well, I won't be playing anyway so it doesn't matter what you do).
Don't forget that the only players you're getting feedback from are the ones that currently are engaged with your system. You aren't getting feedback from any of the players that skipped your app in the first place due to the IAP/incentivized coin system. Personally, if I know a game has that sort of system, I will be far less likely to even give it a chance first.
Edit: Another suggestion, which I've seen used in games before, is to keep the coin system, but remove all the incentivized coin stuff (no videos, etc). Then provide a way to earn coins through gameplay. And finally, provide an IAP to increase the rate at which you earn coins in-game. If you tune it correctly, the base "free" game could drop coins at a low-enough rate to still encourage players to seek alternate ways to gain coins, but the coin-booster IAP would then increase the rate to a level at which most players are comfortable playing without buying any more coins through IAP. Then finally, you can still offer coins through IAP for those few players that want them anyway.
Of course, you have to be careful with this approach, because if you don't calibrate it right and people who bought the coin-booster still feel like they aren't getting enough coins to reasonably play the game, then they'll be angry. And if you give too many coins, there will be no incentive at all for anyone to buy IAP. But this just means you have to put enough thought into it to design it correctly
As an example of this approach, Ski Safari Adventure Time uses it (and I assume the original Ski Safari as well but I never played that). Coins are used to purchase in-game upgrades, and they're collected through gameplay, but you can buy a one-time coin booster that doubles the coins you get through gameplay. Personally, I like this approach because it means I can feel like I paid for the game, and it makes the game playable without having to resort to non-gameplay mechanisms to acquire the needed coins. It's also better than the ad approach because not only does it mean you don't have to uglify your UI with ad banners (and don't have to design a UI that can afford to give up that screen space), but buying a coin-booster like this also feels like the user is gaining a reward, as opposed to getting rid of ads which feels like the user is paying a tax, if you will.
"Buy a theme. No game play advantage but it gives us cash"? I'd be interested to see how well that pays. (I do agree with you though - many IAPs are awful and force the game designer to break their game so they can sell and IAP to fix it).
Who buys consumable IAP to support app authors anyway? I've never heard of that. Buying single-use IAP like ad-removal or coin-boosting, yeah, people do that to support the authors (I'll do that if I think it's a game I'm actually going to play). But that really only applies to single-time purchases, not consumables.
And yeah, you can add cosmetic stuff like themes, or character costumes, or other non-gameplay-affecting things. That's a decent way to provide an opportunity for people to give you money without making them feel like they have to pay to play (you can even make this stuff cost coins, but set the price a bit high to encourage people to use IAP to afford it (but no so high that people think it's unobtainable without IAP), or have a few "special" items that are IAP-only).
Basically, the best approach IMO is to have virtual currency (coins), that you can earn through gameplay, or purchase with IAP. These coins are used to buy things that are perhaps purely aesthetic, or nice-to-have, but are not required in any sense for actual gameplay, or to be able to get a good high score when competing with friends. For example, in a Ski Safari-style game, you might purchase boosters that deposit you partway into the level; you could certainly get that far on your own, so it doesn't affect your high score, but it skips past the "boring" speed ramp-up and so gets you into the action a bit faster. And since these are purchased with coins instead of directly with IAP, people can still play around with them without spending money, which of course provides a way to use up coins and therefore encourage them to buy more.
Once you have these coins, I would then recommend a single permanent IAP purchase for some form of coin booster, as I suggested before. This provides the easy option for someone who wants to support the game author (and therefore feel like they paid for the game), while at the same time giving them a permanent reward for doing so. Not only that, but because it's a permanent reward that they just spent money for, it then becomes a sunk cost if they stop playing the game, and so it's a subtle encouragement to keep coming back to the game, to make sure they got their money's worth. This works the same way as when paying for a game outright, of course, but the alternative, of just relying on consumable IAP, does not have this property because, of course, once they use up what they bought, they've already extracted all the value they could from the purchase.
Finally, I would suggest avoiding ads if you can get away with not having them. Ads are tacky and ugly and will cause a lot of people (myself included) to not even put in the time to find out if the game is any good. But if you decide you need ads anyway, make the coin booster also disable ads at the same time.
Also, as I said above, a coin booster IAP like this seems more like $2.99-$4.99, not $0.99. The nice thing about having it be IAP instead of an upfront cost is that once people decide they like a game, they're more willing to pay more than a dollar for it. The $0.99 price for a lot of games is like that because people have to pay upfront, and it's hard to convince someone to pay more money when they can just go buy a cheaper game. But once they've already decided they like a game, it's easier to justify the higher price.
3.10: Developers who attempt to manipulate or cheat the user reviews or chart ranking in the App Store with fake or paid reviews, or any other inappropriate methods will be removed from the iOS Developer Program
We found that your app, or its metadata, includes features or content that can have an excessive influence in the listing order or ranking on the App Store, which is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines.
Specifically, we found your app provides users coins for watching a video or trailer and subscribing a third party service. It would be appropriate to remove this information.
Please refer to the attached screenshot for more information.
While your iTunes Connect Application State is Rejected, a new binary will be required. Make the desired metadata changes when you upload the new binary.
It doesn't increase downloads unless the app in the video looks decent enough to interest a user, and that seems like it increases app discoverability - something I think Apple would actually want.
I'm not knocking you BTW - the market will bear what it will bear - but, wow I had no idea this was a thing.
Arcade games holding my progress to ransom was "accepted" in the 80s and 90s. Fast forward to today and watching a video for 30 seconds to gain more credits is unacceptable?
I see that you report your advertisers are aware, but if Apple chooses this for the ads they manage then I am not surprised they would enforce it universally so that developers don't move away from iADs.
Most systems including gmail will let you whitelist senders. You can't whitelist apps onto an iPhone without jailbreaking it.
They are supposedly now banning keywords in titles so you won't be seeing more title like Floopy Bird - incredibly fun additive threes 2048 game. Good.
As for banning incentivized social actions: that really sucks if you aren't one of the companies (like King, Zynga, etc) that have really benefited from the growth of using those incentivized actions. Developers that came before you won't be punished and you are now going to have to spend your way to the top. Good luck with that.
One rumor is that they are banning some incentivized video ad networks because ads were coming up with Google Play logos. Oops.
Anyways - the long and short of it is, while the policies are probably net positive for the consumer, the people that gamed the system early still win.
Would this be a fair guess? I'm not fully understanding Apple's motivation here either unless it was about bringing Apple back in as a dependency on ad revenue rather than sidelined.
Overall, an unfriendly move for developers. I think it might be time to buy some Zynga ;-).
Downvoters: please explain yourself. Is what I said incorrect?