Problems in Game Land: IAP Fees Get Gamers Up In Arms

There are certain reactions and events that are typically found in humans that you have to both expect and tolerate, and anger over the perceptions of being badly and baldly used and abused is the sort of reaction that should have been anticipated by the culprits (but more often than not ends up coming as a total surprise).

We are talking about issues that are down to human nature - not fabricated or artificial actions and reactions mind you! Things like egregious in-app purchases being the perfect example.

And for the record this is not yet another article about how kids get tricked into spending oodles of their parents money on in-app purchases in so-called free games that make it all too easy for that to happen (but isn't that terrible?!).

That said, we thought we would share our Top 10 Rage Inducing In-App Purchase Issues as the subject for today's Top 10 article.

Top 10 Rage Inducing In-App Purchases

When you are playing a game that you get for free - it doesn't really mean you know, free-free. For any game classified as a Freemium title, you have to expect that there is going to be an in-app store with in-app purchases. It really is that simple.

In days past these used to be what they called Micro-Purchases -- consisting of a few cents or at the most a dime or quarter of a dollar. But those days are gone - today the typical cost of in-app purchases runs from the most common -- $5 -- to a staggering (but also very common) $99!

The first time we encountered a $99 in-app item we remember thinking - you would have to be nuts to buy that! But as it turns out the most common in-app purchases according to the most recent stats are the $5 and the $99 ones!

The trend has generated significant anger - so much so that the App Store has now taken to highlighting all game titles that feature the preferred “Pay Once and Play” model to help consumers find games that do not drain their wallets.

Despite this though there is a large list of games that have, for reasons almost entirely attached to their in-app purchase scheme, really left gamers steaming. We thought you might find it interesting to learn what the Top 10 are!

10. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft -- Blizzard

The fact that Hearthstone almost did not make this list has more to do with the nearly universal perceptions of its high quality in both game design and entertainment. It certainly offers both - in fact it was that high quality and high entertainment that significantly delayed the realization - and recognition - of in-app purchase aspects of the game that left players steaming...

One of the best collector strategy card games to arrive on mobile platforms like iOS in a long time - and a game that was at least initially received with open-armed love and adoration - Hearthstone is designed around a Free-to-Play model that actually works very well. As long as the player is willing to put in the hours and grind away at building their deck.

So the choice is clear - and it seems to be fair - put in the time to grind your way to a better deck, or spend the money to buy your way to that better deck. Ah, but therein lies the trouble and the source of recent gamer anger!

It was not until recently that players understood just how long the play grind would be - and just how expensive buying their way through would be. You read that right, both options ended up littered with mines.

In a nutshell the way that the game works is simple: there are nine different decks, and each deck is made up of different classes of cards in an assortment of minion, spell, and weapon cards.

Using their deck of choice the player can either play offline (practice matches vs. AI), online vs. other players, and in the Arena.

Obtaining booster packs of new cards costs in-game gold. Playing in the Arena also costs in-game gold. The gold can be won through play, or purchased using real-world money.

A pack of cards costs 100 Gold, but multiple pack options are available for real-world money. Two packs cost players $2.99 / £1.99, while seven packs are available for $9.99 / £6.99. For serious players there are 15 packs that run $19.99 / £13.99 and the maximum 40 pack which will set you back a cool $49.99 / £34.99.

Each pack contains 5 "Expert" Cards, with at least one guaranteed to be Rare or better (Epic, Legendary, etc.). The idea is that the player collects the cards and uses them to build their deck based on one of the nine ability focuses (decks).

Gold/cards are pretty easy to earn in the game - up to a point - provided that the player is willing to grind.

Typically it takes two-to-three days of play to earn enough to buy the two-pack in gold. From their pack purchases they get the cards of different types and rarity and from that collection - and as they learn the finer points of the game - they then craft a more effective deck.

A player can buy entrance to the Arena for either $1.99 or 150 Gold - roughly a day-and-a-half's worth of play to get that entry fee in other words.

On the face of it most players assume that players with money to burn will naturally be able to craft a much better and more effective deck far easier than those who opt to grind (or who have no choice on the matter). Ah, but here is where things turn hinky...

It works out that having money to purchase boosters is not as straight-forward as it might seem. Due to the idiosyncrasies of card distribution in the boosters - and the massive number of regular vs. rarer cards - the path towards completing a deck collection so as to be in that enviable position of being able to make the best deck? Yeah, not really all that manageable.

Recently a veteran player (who has been involved since the beta) discovered two startling facts -- the first was that when he added all the receipts up for his booster purchases, he learned he had spent more than $600 on cards.

The second was that, based on the cards he obtained for that $600 and the outstanding cards for the collection, he was going to have to spend an additional $400 to complete his card collection.

When that math first popped up, players had a hard time both understanding it and accepting it, but as more and more players started doing the math on their own collections, the validity of the assessment soon proved out.

The idea that Blizzard would create what was supposed to be a Free-to-Play game that has a hidden cost of a thousand dollars just to complete the card collection - and don't forget that Arena Play requires a Gold Entrance Fee - well, that pissed a fair number right off!

Further examination by a group of veterans resulted in the realization that the required $1000 basic investment to complete the card collection translated - under ideal conditions and with the best results possible - to an obscene grind.

The way that they figured it, that $1000 represents 20 of the 40-packs ($999.80) -- which works out to 800 booster packs -- and as the cost per pack is 100 gold, and the average daily take for a dedicated player with adequate time is around 100 to 150 gold a day, that is 80K gold or roughly 534 days of play?!

Yeah, we can see how that might leave them feeling perturbed, especially since that 534 days includes zero days of Arena Play!
Posted: 18th Aug 2015 by CMBF