How Video Games for Smartfones and Tablets work nowadays

This is new to me, this kind of manipulative environments I have never believed possible, people spending “real” money in a game in order to advance in levels or to buy accessories for the game figure, or “Bitcoins”, how and why should someone get into this kind of scams…

I don’t really see how it’s a “scam” since the transaction is legitimate: people are exchanging money for something they feel is of value to them. Are you calling it a scam just because what they’re exchanging their money for isn’t of value to YOU?

I’ve spent real dollars for virtual “bucks” on a game I played on my smartphone. Understand, at the time I was going through hell on earth, the game gave me a guilt-free way to zone out of my troubles for a few moments at a time, and by spending real-life $$$ for virtual game “bucks” I was able to advance to more fun and interesting levels. It would only have been a scam if after forking over the real-life money I would have received absolutely nothing in return – no levels up, no “bucks” for the game etc.

What was your question?

Even more amazing, people sometimes go to these places called theaters, where they pay real dollars to watch stories about people that aren’t even real. We’ve been paying for virtual goods for a long time. Also, bitcoins are an entirely unrelated topic and aren’t even mentioned in the article.

If one bothers to read the article, it will become clear that very sophisticated ways are being used to trick (scam) people into this system, I did not think this to be a problem for a person that is actually wanting (knowingly) to spend the money. This is much more than simply paying for your fun…

And “Bitcoins” I am sure, will never be a reality for common folks only for criminals…

I am sorry that you had such a bad time that you had to use a video game to ease the pain, I would have made long strolls along a riverbank or a lake shore to get back to normal…

Ok so the question is…?

Do video games which charge real money for in-game advantage exist? Yes. Do they exist on smartphones and tablets? Sure. How do they work? Same as any other game, but integrated with a payment processor.

It’s really amusing the way you keep interjecting “Bitcoins” with the quotes and all, as if it had anything whatsoever to do with this video game issue.

You (and the author of that article) are reading a lot more into this than it deserves-particularly in the sense that these techniques are somehow unique or even particularly distinct to video games. But if you’re interested in learning more about the way humans assess value and make purchasing decisions, consider reading this:

Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value

It’s a very readable layman’s introduction to experimental economics (which basically points out that traditional micro-economics has a terrible track record of prediction, and is based on underlying principles that are provably false). It’s not nearly as dry as it sounds.

I’ve been an active player of smartphone/tablet games for several years now.

The makers of smartphone/tablet games have to get their investment back somehow (or they won’t be in business for long). They can do so in one of only several ways:

  1. Charge up-front for the game. I’ve never downloaded any game that does this, and have no desire to start doing so. It’s not that I think that option this is wrong or evil or anything; it’s just that (IMHO) I have better choices to pick from elsewhere.

  2. Include in-game advertisements (so that the advertisers are the ones paying for the game. The folks actually playing the game are no longer the customers - the advertisers are the customers. The game players are the product.) Many of these games give you the option (either in-game or as an alternate download) to pay money to avoid further advertisements. I’ve played a couple of these games, and am under the impression that there’s just not enough revenue involved to keep the game developer involved in terms of improving the game.

  3. Let you play up to a point for free, and then let you play the rest of the game only if you decide that you like it and are willing to pay for it. I personally love this option, and have paid for many games this way.

  4. Let you play the game for free, but give you the option of paying real money for (Coins! Gems! Gold!) that in effect give you the option of proceeding in the game faster. I play several of these games, and find that there’s a delicate balance between providing a game that effectively requires the player to pay money to proceed or just makes playing the game a little – easier – if you spend a bit of money now and then. I much prefer the latter, but over time have noticed that game developers have made more money off of me using the former tactic.
    You pays your money and you takes your choice.

That book is on my shelf and I have read and understood what it is about, It’s difficult to explain what really bothers me, maybe what I am asking is, is this morally acceptable to trick people with a free skill game and then manipulate them into paying for it anyway. I know that it is legal, like slot machines at the casino but one does not get into a casino as a minor but can run up a nice credit card bill with games like that…

Lots of people moan about in-app purchases, but I really don’t see the problem. Yes, a few games use them to excess and/or charge too much, but the answer is simple - don’t buy them.

When I was a kid in the 1980s, even the cheapest games for my Sinclair Spectrum cost 99p or £1.99. And those were the “budget” titles, which were often really rubbish. A full-price game was £7.99, or £9.99, or often, in the late 1980s/early 1990s, £14.99. That was a lot of money, considering I was only earning about £13 a week doing a morning paper round at the time.

Today, many IAP games are entirely free to download, and if not they may cost only 69p. And these games are far more advanced and bigger than old Spectrum games. Even if I end up spending £10 or £20 on in-app purchases over the life of the game (and it’s very rare that I ever would), then if you factor in inflation then it’s still incredibly cheap.

People happily drop £2.50 on a cup of coffee and yet they moan about paying £1.99 for an iPhone game. So more and more games become free to download, and the developers have to make money somewhere.

Personally I would much rather pay £5 or so for the game and have no further purchases in the game. Perhaps with a free demo version available so I could see if I liked the game before paying up.

“Scam” isn’t a good word for it although I think it’s usually very manipulative. I’m not calling for a ban or whatever and buyer beware but part of “bewaring” is understanding and acknowledging the manipulation behind getting you to start making in-app purchases.

I’d personally rather pay a couple bucks upfront and get the complete game than get it for “free” and be nickle-and-dimed the whole way through. But I’m apparently in a minority on this if the direction of mobile gaming is any indication.

And I’ll echo the “what’s the question?” while waiting for the forum change.

Moderator Action

Since this concerns video games, and the complaints about them are too mild for the Pit, let’s move this over to the Game Room.

Moving thread from General Questions to The Game Room.

And when you don’t buy them, and these games proliferate to the extent of driving other content from the market?

I agree, but apparently the money says we are in the minority, and the ‘future’ is ‘games’ like the new Dungeon Keeper, which is not only a joke and a travesty, but outright dishonest with its ratings manipulation, and, apparently a terrible game by almost any standard.

Fortunately, I am assisted in my apathy towards this issue by the fact that most smartphone games feel like garbage to me, so the fact that I’m missing out doesn’t wound me very deeply.

This stuff is most evident in Smartphones now because nobody’s going to pay $60 up front for a game on a phone. But it’s not limited to there, for “normal” computer games you’ve got LoL and the other DotA clones that are free to play with in-game purchases, a huge variety of MMOs that have in-game purchases (heck, Blizzard just announced that for a fee you automatically level a character to max level)

yeah, look at the DLC For the Sims 3 -

Thanks everybody for the input, interesting development, will see where it will lead…

Yeah, but you have no reason to actually buy any of those if you don’t want them. It’s not like the game deliberately manipulates you into feeling like you need need one of those expansion packs. But that’s exactly what games with in-app purchases do.

Yes, the expansion packs are a bit predatory, but they have nothing on free-to-play games. You can still play the core game without any expansions, and not feel like you are getting an inferior experience.

At least expansion packs have a tendency to…expand the game. Most in-app purchases just allow you to play the game better/faster/with less annoyance/keep stuff the game has already ‘given’ you.