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[Opinion] The Story of IAP



By  Yesi Livera     1:52 AM    Labels:,,, 
I believe most of us have knowing about what's IAP. IAP or in app purchase definitely not a wrong 'thing'. In my opinion, there's nothing wrong with it. However, time goes on, people might changed and of course IAP too. In beginning, IAP was kind of micro transaction to download additional content from an app only. It also used for premium feature or full access (one time only) unlock, but right now there're so many type of IAP. Here is the list of IAP which might be found nowadays:
  • IAP for buying more energy (usually freemium, but now there's energy on paid game too)
  • IAP for buying secondary currency (freemium, paidmium)
  • IAP for buying costumes (freemium, paidmium)
  • IAP for buying speed timer (freemium, paidmium)
  • IAP for removing ads (freemium)
  • IAP for extra levels (paid and freemium)
  • IAP for unlocking all levels inside (in a paid game, usually on puzzle/ level based game)
  • IAP for buying cheat/ hint (freemium, paidmium)
  • IAP for buying skip level (freemium, paidmium)
  • IAP for unlocking full game (one time only for full access)
  • and more will be coming soon (I believe)
Some research said if freemium game gives more profit than premium games. Let's discuss of it from 2 different point of view. First from the developer:

- If that statement was valid, then let's make more freemium game because in fact it can give us (developer) more income than paid game
-------> Here is the rules:

    • Make a freemium app with ads or bunch of IAP (on free to play system)
Here, there will be a free app with ads banner nor a full screen ads (can be displayed during the gameplay or not. IAP is usually for buying coins, removing ads or secondary currency. It can be used for buying cheat, hint also costumes. Usually, this isn't necessary but once you fall into it... be careful, it can be so addictive. The well example of this game: Boom Beach, Dragon Vale, Temple Run and many more


    • Make a freemium app with many add-ons that you should buy if you want enjoy the full experience on the game. It's optional only but it's too grindy and need more patient. 

This one is used for removing timer or unlocking premium content or unlock all levels. Sometimes it's good but sometimes it can be bad too depends on how the point of view on user. The well example of this freemium game is Smash Hit, the game can be completed without purchasing the IAP, but you can bought IAP to support this awesome developer.

    • Make a freemium app with ads for gaining energy or secondary currency for free

Ads not bad, sometimes it can be used as tricky trick. If you're afraid because user won't bother to buy the IAP, like on facebook thing, giving a review on the app store and best of all watching 15 seconds of ads video will be used on this kind of freemium game. User should watch ads then they get 1 energy or IAP currency for free or can be movement too (Disco Zoo is a well implemented a freemium game with in-game ads)


Well, as we can see there's nothing bad from IAP but then let's see from user's point of view

--------- We want a paid app without any single IAP.
--------- We hate IAP, timer, ads
--------- But we like free game
--------- When there's a good free(mium) app but it has ads nor IAP inside, user will say..."I wouldn't mind to pay $5 on this game but that ads and IAP ruined it."

Then I'm wondering what should developer do:

====== Solution

  • Make premium app without any single ads nor IAP

BUT... BUT... Piracy everywhere.... Well, if we talk about piracy... It just too hard to be understood, I don't get it, when they (the one who pirate the game) wish for better and better game, meanwhile they don't want to spend any single penny on it. So, what should developer do?

--------Make a game free with single IAP for unlocking all contents. Right now, I think this one is the easiest solution of it. In the same time, as user we can try the game first, may be for 3-5 levels for free, then we should pay to enjoy the full content; as developer, this method can decrease the piracy on their game. However, will be user definitely buy the IAP on your game? Well, it depends on that user in personal, if they love and enjoy it, of course they will spend more time to play your game but if not, that's the risk. That's why prepare the best for your game. Reveal some power to tease the user on beginning isn't as bad as you might think.
The failure that often happen on some games, the first 5-10 free levels of their game didn't explain/ reveal any interesting thing about the game. It's too similar and didn't give us a "FUN" thing which was necessary for a game.

  • Back to freemium method, following the rules above... Choose one, yes only one... Don't give us (user) double IAP

If you implement it well, I don't think there's problem for being a freemium game

  • Some people said, if make premium and freemium version can be the best too

Not just a lite version, but developer can make two different version of their app separately, one for premium one, paid and doesn't have any IAP nor ads inside. Second, make the freemium version of it (can be for ads or other well implemented IAP elements) but always remember, the decision is on your hand, choose the best method of your game, think the best for your game, you, also the one who play your game, (us-gamer).


At first, I might think it's already over.... So basically, 4 kinds of games in general divided by payment (cost) method:

a. FREE Games : No ads, No IAP. Absolutely free. Usually a demo game, university project, introduction game, side project or just the kindness of the developer who make their game free..... My big thanks for you dev, good luck for your next project

b. FREEMIUM Games: An upgrade version of Free game, it has IAP for regular buying (not only one) or ads inside. For example: IAP for buying secondary currency, power-ups, energy refill, etc. Usually, it's consumable IAP.

c. PAID Games: Full experience, there's no disturbing ads, IAP, social integration inside. Some of them uses Game Center or Google Play Games feature and not a social leaderboard. Use Game Center/ Google Play Games integration are better than the social leaderboard.

d. PAIDMIUM Games: A paid game with optional IAP inside, not necessary but it'll make the game become 2x easier. Usually an unlock all levels IAP, some legendary costumes, etc. Of course, we can spent more time on the game to gain them all, this IAP only used by the one who dislike grinding.

The last one is might become a new trend on mobile games... 
Introducing..... #Drumroll please....

PAY TO PAY Games

Okay, basically this is a paid game, but it has unacceptable freemium aspect. Here, you should pay (buy) to play the game first, then if you want to continue playing the game you should pay more on it. It's bit similar like paidmium, but in fact, pay to pay model is greedier than the paidmium games. You can watch the video below (original credit from Appspy.com) for more information.



In conclusion, again... I want to say if I'm not an anti IAP, but when it's went wrong too far, I don't think I can tolerate it more, though it's back to how us (user) face it. As I might said before, mobile gaming is a complicated world.... too many ironic and funny story inside at the same time, it's so complicated too for being a mobile gamer.... May be, if there's a change on mobile games (such as all premium games costs more than $3), more quality games for mobile, equality between PC/ console gamer and mobile gamer, etc then people's perspective on mobile gaming might be changed. Let's see how the mobile gaming goes on.... :) I'm a mobile gamer and someday, I believe there's no difference for being a console/ pc/ mobile gamer... because we are one, we are gamers :)

About Yesi Livera

Yesi is someone who love to talk about games. Mainly she plays games on mobile especially iOS. However, sometimes she can't resist with PC gaming too. She also like to share her opinions about what's going on on gaming industry. Thank you for visiting, keep calm and stay gaming.

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