I've been thinking a lot lately about in-app purchases and the effect they have on consumerism. Apparently, Apple has been thinking about it for longer.
We discussed some of the ramifications in a recent editorial on the effects of Gacha and in-app purchases in mobile gaming, and I have to say it's pretty cool that Apple had this up their sleeve. Because the new Apple Arcade service is almost being marketed (and actually is really appealing) for the lack of in-app purchases.
You see, the way applications in the apple store have become profitable and viable in the last few years is two-fold.
Ad space: App developers offer ad space in their games (in a banner like you'd see on a website or in a pop up video).
In-App Purchases: App developers allow you to purchase in game currency to buy in game items.
While there's nothing inherently bad about either of these methods, in-app purchases have become more and more troublesome over time. Some game developers have realized exactly how much a player wants to get to the next level, and have realized by offering a way to shortcut that progress via reaching for their wallet, they can earn a large chunk of revenue.
It's getting to the point where staying competitive in a game means starting from the very beginning of the game's launch, and keeping up with the purchase structure that the developer offers to shortcut progress. In short, you may not need to be a whale, but you likely need to purchase something to be high in rankings.
In short, the pool of people who are truly actually really free-to-play is dwindling. It's more and more acceptable to spend $10 once on in-app purchases in a game. We're getting to a point where spending any money at all on any game means you'd have been better off paying a flat fee for the game itself. Forget in-app purchases and ad space, pay developers up front for the download and call it a day.
So why not do that?
Unfortunately, we're also fighting an established set of behaviors. We're used to the app store being free and we want it to remain free.
Enter Apple Arcade.
A subscription model doesn't break our current notions of a free and open app store where you can sometimes pay for an ad-free version of an app directly.
In fact, a subscription model is what we're accustomed to lately.
And it's a perfect fit for the problems of spending too much or too often on in-app purchases. Because it offers a viable alternative, a way to pay developers while still having access to a wide library of games that you may only play for a short period of time.
That's the fear, after all. Paying a developer 3.99 or 4.99 for a game and then realizing the game only holds your interest for a day. But a subscription model with a library of games doesn't hold that same feeling. It's a pretty smart idea -- so long as the games are strong.
And Apple invested to make sure that would happen. It brought in some pretty huge developers. Bandai-Namco, Gameloft, Sega, Devlover, Blowfish, Ubisoft, Cartoon Network, the list goes on. They made sure they'd have a strong opening offering of games, and they even decided to offer the first month for free.
Every game, offered for free (with subscription), and with no in-app purchases. It's pretty brilliant.
So what kind of games exactly are being offered? While we don't have the whole list yet, we've got a list so far. Below is the list from the press release that Apple put out yesterday with some images to boot. Exciting stuff.
There's a lot to be excited about with Apple Arcade.
Getting access to a full suite of games for a monthly subscription of $4.99 is a great way to ensure developers get paid (which they should) for their hard work, and users get to play a bunch of full-version games without worrying about paywalls that might stop their progression until they get out their wallets.
It's a clever plan, and we can't wait to try it out!