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How In-App Purchase Is or Is Not Really Destroying The Games Industry

I read two articles over the weekend about the impact of In-App Purchases on the games industry. Thomas Baekdal argues that consumable IAPs, mastered by companies like Electronic Arts, are destroying the industry. He uses the latest Dungeon Keeper game for iOS as an example.

We have reached a point in which mobile games couldn't even be said to be a game anymore. Playing a game means that you have fun. It doesn't mean that you sit around and wait for the game to annoy you for so long that you decide to pay credits to speed it up. And for an old geezer like me who remember the glory days of gaming back in the 1990s, it's just unbearable to watch.

With the help of NerdCubed (great guy), let me illustrate just how bad in-app purchases in games have become. Let's compare a game from the 1990s with the same game on the iPad today.

On the other hand, Drew Crawford makes the case for In-App Purchases as the best revenue model for the modern App Store games market, noting that they can be considered the evolution of the arcade:

See, in the in-app purchase model actually predates phones. It predates video game consoles. It goes all the way back to the arcade, where millions of consumers were happy to pay a whole quarter ($0.89 in 2013 dollars) to pay for just a few minutes. The entire video games industry comes from this model. Kids these days.

But in fact, the model predates computers. I can trace it at least as far back as the Periscope mechanical arcade game from Sega in 1966 that offers to sell you ten lives for 25 cents ($1.80 in 2013 dollars).

I understand Crawford's position, and I think that In-App Purchase isn't strictly a bad model for monetization. My problem is with the user-hostile consumable approach to IAP as illustrated by Baekdal and perfected by EA. It may make sense financially, it may even turn out to make millions of dollars for EA, but, as a gamer, I just think it's sad.