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You're the Pundit: Is in-app purchasing out of control?


When it comes to forecasting the next big thing, we turn to our secret weapon: the TUAW braintrust. We put the question to you and let you have your go at it. Today's topic is in-app purchasing, or IAP for short.

We've been having a house debate recently about the proper role of IAP in game marketing and development. Some companies have been treating their customers as cash cows using IAPs. We find that attitude unacceptable.

That said, many games (including Tiny Tower, Battle Nations and others) use IAPs responsibly and well. We feel IAP by itself isn't bad, but some companies (and let us be clear, those are actually the minority of companies) put in-app purchases over game play instead of the other way around.

Our group take is that IAP, economically speaking, rewards bad game design. Developers can make more money from games with a high initial fun factor followed by a long, dull grind that players already in the groove will then pay out to avoid.

If you're paying to avoid game play or to add cheats that put you at an advantage over other players, then in-app purchases are hiding bad game design. Similarly, if you're paying to "accessorize" your world ("collect all 12 fish"), we feel that IAP is taking advantage of customers.

When IAP works in games, it branches, extends, or expands gameplay rather than cheats it.

So is IAP out of control in App Store? Should Apple be cracking down on the more predatory uses of IAP?

You tell us. Place your vote in this poll and then join in the comments with your take on this.


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