The Wargamer

26 May 2017

Editorial: In-App Purchases in Decline?

A short muse by the editor on a possible change

Published on 27 APR 2014 7:36am by Nik Gaukroger
  1. business and industry, background / research material, english

With the recent release by Hunted Cow of the latest in their Tank Battle: Eastern Front series – in this case they have now reached 1943 – it crossed my mind that not long ago all these new releases may well have been In-App Purchases rather than wholly new games. This has got me musing as to whether we are seeing the end, or reduction, in the In-App Purchase for some types of games? 

I wonder if the change has something to do with the stories we have seen in the press about young people (often quite young children in reality) running up large bills for their parents through In-App purchases. I am driven to wonder if the In-App Purchase now has something of a stigma attached to it. Indeed the press release for Tank Battle: Easter Front 1943 explicitly says “…with no in-app purchases.” The fact a game is now “complete” with no additions is being used as a marketing opportunity, telling those who may be worried that once they have paid for the App there is no risk of unwonted surprise expenses via an In-App Purchase. 

Maybe as well, by releasing what may previously have been part of an In-App purchase the developers feel that they will have a more news worthy release to drive sales than if they had just introduced and In-App Purchase. I would think that the release of a “new game” is bigger news than saying “we’ve added a bit to a game you’ve already bought”. However, I can see a downside to this for games such as the Tank Battle: Eastern front series – and something that I much confess has crossed my mind with the latest release. That is that there is a risk that the publisher/developer will be seen as just “flogging the same old game under a different name” to all intents and purposes, and this can build up negative feelings amongst customers. The customer may also feel that the subsequent releases are less value for money if charged the same as the first game as they will just view them as add on content rather than a genuine new game. 

So are we seeing a change of policy by some? I think that we may well be, at least for a short time. If companies can get a bit of extra revenue from this approach I can see that they will be very tempted to go down this route that’s for sure.