In-App Purchase Support for Android?

In-App Purchase Support for Android?

Sep 21, 2010

A highly debatable topic within the gaming and app world is that of in-app purchases/DLC/microtransactions and other ways of essentially picking our pockets -can you tell I’m a cynic? Whether you agree with my point of view or not really is inconsequential. The truth of the matter is that these methods of bringing people content are very real and as of late seem to be growing. While these concepts have been around for many years (mostly within the gaming console world) they are fairly new among the handheld community.

Over a year ago, Apple decided to join in with its announcement to support in-app purchases on its devices running iOS 3.0 or greater. If Apple was willing to give more choice to developers, one would certainly believe Google (the mother of choice) would be all for it. Well, here we are, and still no in-app support on Android. This may be due to the fact that until recently Android’s App Market was really reminiscent of a small mom and pop corner store compared to Apple’s big box store. Times have changed and the Android Market now has 10,000+ apps and continues to grow every second. Does that mean we will soon see in-app support for Android? Rumor has it the answer is “yes,” but only time will tell.

Since I opened this can of worms, I’ll go ahead and look at what this added support could mean for Android developers and users. Good or Bad? Avoidable or inevitable?

In the arena of gaming, I hate DLC for many reasons. I sometimes feel it takes away from the true experience of a game. I for one don’t enjoy playing a game only to find out I can’t “fully” play the game unless I dish out some more money. In addition, sometimes the added content you pay for is utterly pointless and unnecessary. There will be a good amount of developers abusing this and that is a bad thing for users. On the other hand, when it comes to things such as e-books, subscriptions and updates to an already cool game, I am for it. I would love to hear the opinions of other users on the subject.

What about the developer aspect? Some argue that it helps developers by allowing them to make only one app instead of the usual two apps (one lite version, one paid) and in turn also aids in the conquest to lessen the clutter of the Market. On the other hand, sometimes users enjoy trying the lite version and then deciding to download a full version. Also, how will this affect app ratings? Currently Android Market has only 3 categories; “Top paid”, “Top free”, and “Just In.” What happens now if a developer offers their app for free, banking on the money they will make through in-app purchases? Will they get a rating under the “Free Apps” category or “Paid Apps” category? Will this affect their apps popularity and position which is really important when it comes to users finding their apps?

Some other benefits to developers are the obvious possibilities of increasing profit by offering extra content, functions, options, etc.. at a designated price. Now, instead of a developer only making X amount of dollars after the sale of their app, they can achieve a goal of constant revenue by always adding new content and charging for it. Having one app with DLC is also said to deter piracy, which is a huge plus for developers and one I support wholeheartedly.

As I stated in the beginning, this is a highly debatable subject with heavy opinions on both sides. I have no doubt we will be seeing this supported by Android in the near future and so we should prepare ourselves for what is to come. It’s always good to have more options available but with more options comes more confusion for the average user as to what they are actually paying for. Let’s hope Google, developers, and users can clearly communicate with one another to ensure a continued benefit for all.

Vincent Messina
Self made billionaire, inventor of the Large Hadron Collider and owner of the New England Patriots soon found life quite boring. This kid at heart decided to trade it all to become the worlds first fun loving father, writer, musician with an ever growing obsession for little green robots.
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