Micropay Apps To No Longer Be Called Free
Following continual media and public awareness of ‘freemium’ apps with optional microtransactions, Apple has had to bow to public pressure and stop listing these apps as ‘free’ on the app store, replacing the download button that previously said the game or app was free with one that now says ‘get’.
Back in the summer the EU Regulatory Commission caused similar changes on Google stores, forcing the company to change their list of ‘Top Free Apps’ to ‘Top Apps’ and ‘Top free Games’ to just ‘Top Games’, amidst increasing fears that apps labeled as free are misleading as payment is optional, but still present.
The reasoning behind this is , according to the EU, that in-app purchases might be marketed to children using free games, who in turn will pressure their parents to make purchases. Apple is obviously aware of the impact of apps on children and the issue of in-game, in-app purchases.
“…over the last year we made sure any app which enables customers to make in-app purchases is clearly marked. We’ve also created a Kids Section on the App Store with even stronger protections to cover apps designed for children younger than 13.”
The changes come very soon after an episode of South Park came out, featuring the very same problems outlined by the EU. In that particular satirical romp, young Stan Marsh became hooked on making in-app purchases on an iPhone game, with South Park’s creators highlighting how these games and in-app purchases may directly target people who have a genetic predisposition for addiction to activities like gambling.
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Although the app in South Park was the heinous creation of the ‘Canadian Devil’, Canada’s very own prince of darkness, determined on exploiting addicts for millions through a virtually useless app, South Park’s lampooning of ‘freemium’ apps did raise some interesting arguments about the state of mobile gaming apps, such as how some are simply not fun unless you spend money on them.
It’s a very crude comparison, but South Park also pointed out those who deal in hard drugs always give away the first dose for free, to hook their audience. Whether crack cocaine and Candy Crush Saga have anything more in common isn’t up for debate, but it’s good to hear the tech industry is reacting to the backlash against the misuse of the word ‘free’ on some app stores.
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Regardless of what South Park’s creators think, something is being done, even if it’s only a very small gesture. The apps are still around and some may still be considered as being unfairly geared towards making people spend more money on them than they are worth, even though they are marketed as free. It’s safe to say that some end up spending enough on some apps to purchase a much better quality game.
EU Announcement: Europa.eu
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