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How Micro-Transactions Will Shake Up iPhone

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the hang-me-upside-down-and-shake dept.

148

Spanner Spencer writes "Talk to iPhone games developers, and the feature they're most excited about in the new iPhone 3.0 software is the ability to do in-game micro-transactions. And while you might wonder if this is just an excuse to get iPhone gamers to dip into their wallets even more often, it's actually a hugely positive thing for several reasons. Downloadable content, virtual items, subscription billing and fast-track social advancement are some of them, so Pocket Gamer looks into a bit more depth about what you can expect on the micro-payments side once iPhone 3.0 debuts."

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148 comments

Shake up your iPhone (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28168813)

iPhone has force-feedback too? Is there nothing this thing can't do?

Arr! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28168945)

Suck me cock.

Re:Shake up your iPhone (1)

Garridan (597129) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169801)

Force-feedback shouldn't be hard -- it would be weak, of course, but the phone's got a vibrator in it, like any other cell phone. Not to mention the ridiculous drain on the battery.

Re:Shake up your iPhone (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28170115)

Is there nothing this thing can't do?

Make Richard Stallman less fat and get him laid?

Looks like attack of the shill (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28168831)

Off late, iphone articles have overtaken the main page of /. Either /. is short of money, or its short of pageviews. Fuck iphone.

Re:Looks like attack of the shill (5, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#28168861)

Fuck iphone.

There's an app for that!

Re:Looks like attack of the shill (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28168969)

Yeah, but it was never approved by Apple...

Re:Looks like attack of the shill (1)

ethicalBob (1023525) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169299)

Fuck iphone.

There's an app for that!

Yeah, but is there a hardware port for it???

Re:Looks like attack of the shill (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28169347)

Fuck iphone.

There's an app for that!

Fuck iphone.

There's an app for that!

any new informfation for this topic? Tun Jang http://rejang-lebong.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

Huh. (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#28168887)

Why do none of those "hugely positive things" sound hugely positive, or even positive at all? Am I a bad, bad failure of a consumer, whose mere existence is dragging our economy down, or are the writers of TFA a bunch of koolaid-drinking frigtards who are cheerleading the advance of some of the worst aspects of traditional phone service into the realm of applications?

Probably no need to answer that.

Re:Huh. (4, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169119)

It's hugely positive for the business types who keep pushing micropayments as the thing that will save the Internet, despite the fact that they've been tried several times before and have been a dismal failure. Since iPhone users tend to be used to shelling out small amounts of money frequently anyway with iTunes and the App store, it might be more successful there than it ever could be on the Internet at large, but it's not a positive development for the consumer no matter how you slice it.

Re:Huh. (5, Insightful)

Renderer of Evil (604742) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169813)

...but it's not a positive development for the consumer no matter how you slice it.

I disagree, and here's why.

In-game, in-app transactions free up developers to provide applications which are modular and go beyond widgetizing the phone with bunch of buttons. For example, instead of releasing 10 different apps for language instruction and ranking somewhere in the 10,000's on the list of downloaded apps, you could just make one well-designed app and then provide language packs for a fee. Currently there are lots of single-purpose apps from the same company localized to fit a specific language. This is bad for the developers because they don't have a chance to reach critical mass on the platform since their offerings are balkanized - Spanish, French, and German versions are all competing against one another and other similar apps. Their combined total downloads would propel them to the top but since these are treated and sold as separate apps you lose exposure.

This would also do away with "LITE" applications and get you the real thing where you could purchase the full game after playing the demo level. It's really a redundant step to download iFighter Lite (an awesome game!) and then go back and purchase the full iFighter game. The in-game transaction saves you the step of going through delete > re-download > sync steps and puts you back into action.

Will some developers abuse this by releasing shitty content? Absolutely. But the market will sort these out in time.

Re:Huh. (2, Insightful)

forand (530402) | more than 4 years ago | (#28170401)

I was under the impression that your "LITE" application example was banned by the in App purchasing methods offered through Apple. That is if an App is free then it is always free, if an App is paid for THEN it can charge you more.

Re:Huh. (2, Informative)

keytoe (91531) | more than 4 years ago | (#28171841)

This is currently true. While nobody can publicly discuss the exact terms of the 3.0 payment model without breaking the NDA, you can draw some conclusions by looking at the spirit of the current contracts. In short, the 'free means free' part of the payment model is to keep you from making a free app and then charging for it in some way other than the app store. In effect, they're saying that you must Give Unto Caesar or GTFO (or go free). Trying to get around giving Apple their cut is a good way to be stuck in the 'unexpected delays' black hole.

With 3.0 offering in-app micro payments, you can now Give Unto Caesar with every transaction - so why NOT offer a lite->pro upgrade path? Apple still gets their tax, you get a cleaner process, the user is a lot less confused, and you can modularize your app like a good little developer. Everybody wins.

Re:Huh. (1)

Renderer of Evil (604742) | more than 4 years ago | (#28172099)

That is if an App is free then it is always free, if an App is paid for THEN it can charge you more.

You're right, but here's a better example of LITE vs Pro app like DSLR Remote [ononesoftware.com] . One of them costs $1.99 and the full-featured app costs $9.99. The company plans to update the app to support Nikon cameras very soon and they're not doing separate apps in this case. With in-app purchasing you could just buy support for either Canon or Nikon and not subsidize it for the other camera.

Extend this to things like local maps for turn-by-turn gps (like XRoad's G-Map) and you can see the value in having something which adds content a la carte. Currently they have Eastern US and Western US, each of the apps weighing in at 900MB. That's 1/16th of the space on your iPhone. A lot of maps that you don't need if you're just going to drive around Los Angeles.

Re:Huh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28170747)

Will some developers abuse this by releasing shitty content? Absolutely. But the market will sort these out in time.

Say, you're not an ex-banker are you?

Re:Huh. (1)

harryandthehenderson (1559721) | more than 4 years ago | (#28170191)

It's hugely positive for the business types who keep pushing micropayments as the thing that will save the Internet, despite the fact that they've been tried several times before and have been a dismal failure.

The Guitar Hero and Rock Band developers would like to have a word with you.

Re:Huh. (2, Interesting)

mattwarden (699984) | more than 4 years ago | (#28170381)

> but it's not a positive development for the consumer no matter how you slice it.

Hey, you said that very definitively, so it must be true. And I agree with you. I'm tired of the "business types" trying to make money off me. Just give me everything I want for free, already. Is it that hard???

Well, just playing devil's advocate here, let's consider whether micropayments really a logical step to make the Internet better for consumers. Contrary to popular belief on the left side of things, the payment of goods is not a way for rich people to become richer, it's a way for consumers to get what they want. Without payment for goods, there is no signal to business about what items consumers demand and what items consumers don't want, and by how much consumers demand A over B, and how much producers should be willing to spend on the creation of both A and B.

Micropayments are difficult to pull off logistically, but the bottom line is that eventually content will be price-differentiated. You will pay for better content. There will be plenty of content for free. Surprisingly to many people, this is not a new model... see radio, television, books, magazines, newsletters, and pretty much everything else.

Re:Huh. (1)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 4 years ago | (#28170667)

It's hugely positive for the business types who keep pushing micropayments as the thing that will save the Internet, despite the fact that they've been tried several times before and have been a dismal failure.

Oh come on, you're going to try and tell us that Flooz.com was a dismal failure? They had Whoopi Goldberg as their spokesperson for Christ sakes! How is that a failure?

Re:Huh. (3, Insightful)

EastCoastSurfer (310758) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169125)

It's positive for a couple reasons. First, the consumer gets more choice about the premium content they want to buy. Sorta like buying individual cable channels as opposed to packages. Second, the developer now has more options on how to sell said content. They may be able to take more chances offering small pieces of content to determine a market prior to offering a full package. In general, I think more choice is always a good thing.

Don't think of the free apps going away, but instead you having more options on potentially buying some of the paid for apps.

Re:Huh. (4, Insightful)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169195)

So long as I'm getting reasonable stuff for my $X that is fine but when they realize that people will pay $0.0x for little bits there are a handful of things that will charge $X for the initial app with $0.0x * 20 to actually do anything useful with the app. While I don't have an iPhone, I dread the day when I have to wander around Tamriel stark naked because I refuse to pay real money for a suit of virtual armor.

Re:Huh. (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169599)

I dread the day when I have to wander around Tamriel stark naked

Gee, thanks. That image has been burned into the retina of my mind's eye, and I can't make it go away.

Please be assured that you are not alone in dreading the day you have to wander stark naked.

Re:Huh. (4, Insightful)

ionix5891 (1228718) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169571)

positive, choice, premium, packages, options ,content, offering, market

  wow did that just read like a marketing spiel

Re:Huh. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28171295)

You forgot the handy strawman at the end of the paragraph:

In general, I think more choice is always a good thing.

Re:Huh. (1)

Ohio Calvinist (895750) | more than 4 years ago | (#28170055)

The nice feature will be that Free apps will be easier to convert to "paid" apps quickly and easily rather than doing "work" in the free version, and then chosing to upgrade and not being able to transfer that data in the free version to the paid (more robust) version because the apps are so isolated from one another.

This could work very well for "service" type applications such as 411 or language translations. For instance, if you translated a block of text it would be very easy to have a "submit to professional translator for $cost."

This is a "good" peice of technology, but does open the door for very bad implementations. However, I'm a realist and know that I'm not going to convince anyone who asserts that all software should be free-as-in-beer at all times, that this is a natrual extension to the methods already in place in the app-store.

I hope it's clearly marked and confirmed (3, Insightful)

Paul Carver (4555) | more than 4 years ago | (#28168889)

I like my iPhone and I have 70+ apps installed but most of them are free apps that I'd live without if I had to pay for them. Only a dozen or so are paid apps that I actively tell people "you should get this, it's outstanding". I've paid for a couple of games but I would be really upset if I "accidentally" purchased something even if it's only a couple of dollars.

I hope Apple makes very sure that "micro-transactions" don't let developers try to keep slipping their fingers into my wallet quietly.

Re:I hope it's clearly marked and confirmed (5, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#28168921)

It isn't "slipping their fingers into my wallet quietly" it's "Enabling premium content acquisition seamlessly"...

Re:I hope it's clearly marked and confirmed (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28170105)

At least they're not slipping their fingers into your asshole. That's why I prefer Apple over CmdrTaco.

Re:I hope it's clearly marked and confirmed (5, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#28168933)

I hope Apple makes very sure that "micro-transactions" don't let developers try to keep slipping their fingers into my wallet quietly.

As I understand it, $0.00 apps can't call the microtransaction API. That's why you can't buy new books in Amazon's Kindle app; you have to close it and open Safari.

Re:I hope it's clearly marked and confirmed (3, Interesting)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169461)

It would be fairly trivial to get around this restriction. Just sell at $10 version of the Kindle app that gives you $10 store credit towards your first purchase. Of course people might balk at the $10 initial cost, so it may be more effective to sell it for $1, or whatever Apple has set as the minimum cost.

If you're going to be making a considerable amount of micro-transactions, the initial cost is probably worth the added convenience. Of course, Apple could always make exceptions [daringfireball.net] as it may have done in the past.

Re:I hope it's clearly marked and confirmed (2, Interesting)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169517)

"That's why you can't buy new books in Amazon's Kindle app; you have to close it and open Safari."

Um, no. The current TOS doesn't permit Amazon to include purchasing functionality in their application (that and there currently is no microtransaction API for Amazon to call).

Going forward, Amazon is also more likely to want the whole pie, instead of having to share 30% of it with Apple, particularly if another article I read is true, where Amazon is paying the publisher a percentage of the MSRP while charging the customer a lower price...

Re:I hope it's clearly marked and confirmed (0, Troll)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#28171059)

The current TOS doesn't permit Amazon to include purchasing functionality in their application

You said "current". Paul Carver and I were discussing the update to the operating system and TOS described by the article.

Re:I hope it's clearly marked and confirmed (1)

danwesnor (896499) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169817)

I'm sure in-app purchases will still require your App Store password, and if that's easy to be types accidentally, you might want to check your credit card bill.

Re:I hope it's clearly marked and confirmed (5, Informative)

tattood (855883) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169827)

I hope Apple makes very sure that "micro-transactions" don't let developers try to keep slipping their fingers into my wallet quietly.

Yes, it is very clearly marked with a popup window that asks you "Do you want to purchase (insert item here) for (insert price here)" window that you have to confirm or deny. They showed an example of this in the 3.0 press conference when they announced it.

Social Pyramid Games (4, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#28168937)

So now all those Pyramid Scheme style games (Mafias, Ninjas, Vampires, Knights) can be real Pyramid schemes, with Microtransactions filling in the $$$ glue?

Re:Social Pyramid Games (5, Funny)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169057)

Hmm, that gives me an idea.
How about a Nigerian adventure game, where you have to pay every time you make some progress toward your 10M$ reward.

Re:Social Pyramid Games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28169441)

They already do that, you just have to pay outside of the game. Actually if you look at most of those games, they're really just cheap web browsers that bind to the sites that play the games.

Positive? (4, Insightful)

Millennium (2451) | more than 4 years ago | (#28168973)

And while you might wonder if this is just an excuse to get iPhone gamers to dip into their wallets even more often, it's actually a hugely positive thing for several reasons. Downloadable content, virtual items, subscription billing and fast-track social advancement are some of them...

Um, in what way are any of these things positive? I look at these things and see only scams: more ways to nickel-and-dime gamers to death.

Re:Positive? (1)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169159)

I guess this goes back to the initial arguments against microtransations on pc/console games: "If you can be arsed to make the model and skin it, why are you withholding it from my "Full Game" which I purchased?"

Re:Positive? (0, Redundant)

Tokerat (150341) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169549)

I guess this goes back to the initial arguments against microtransations on pc/console games: "If you can be arsed to make the model and skin it, why are you withholding it from my "Full Game" which I purchased?"

Because it took time and effort which you haven't paid for yet.

"If you can be arsed to design the RAM and manufacture it, why are you withholding it from my 'Motherboard' which I purchased?"

Re:Positive? (2, Interesting)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169927)

why are you withholding it from my 'Motherboard' which I purchased?

Because its a motherboard, not ram, and I don't ever remember ram coming standard with individual motherboards from ASUS, DFI, or Gigabyte (or other makers), ever. Bad analogy, try again.

Here I was thinking that because games had a fixed price ($50 or $60USD) and gamers had a fixed amount of money to spend, they might try to get the most value for their buck. If a sizable portion of a game's design budget goes into content that isn't part of the release or cost of the game, why pay full price for that game? (Yes, most console games that release DLC still cost $60, and the budget that goes into the making of that DLC comes from the pool of sales, its not like they set aside the marketplace profits soley for the creation of paid DLC).

While yes, I am aware that expecting a company to try to please its consumers can be construed as entitlement, once upon a time, if something was developed for a game by the devs and they could fit it in, they tried to put it in, or released it later with a patch (Like multiplayer maps for quake 2). Unlike your bad Mobo/ram analogy, once upon a time, the $50 cost of admission was (and in some cases, like the orange box, still is) enough to cover everything that was created for a game that was polished, rather than having to charge for [1up.com] simply because someone says they have to.

If the devs say that they've moved on after release and don't want to release anything new, that's cool too, I'm not expecting companies to better their product after release, just not knee-cap it prior to release.

By the way, I know that nobody is forcing me to buy DLC, and in a lot of cases, I don't, but in halo 3, its getting harder to play online because I don't have all the new paid content, so the value of my game is decreasing because I refuse to pay its upkeep (being the flashing name in a party with the text "The following players do not have the content required" gets old). So while they're not "forcing" me to pay more, it would be nice if they didn't rub my nose in it and heavily imply that if I wanted to continue to enjoy the game fully and not be a party pariah, I should fork out more money.

Re:Positive? (1)

rhsanborn (773855) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169731)

So long as they are clear about the model beforehand, I don't think there is any problem here. If you disagree with the model you are welcome to not buy it.

Re:Positive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28169269)

Millions of gamers pay a $15/month subscription fee to play World of Warcraft. Gamers throw down $60 dollars for games they will play only a few times.

It's not like apps are going charge your credit card behind your back. If anything, it may even lower the initial up-front cost of an app as developers can count on a trickle (or flood!) of micro-transaction dollars coming in from people that like their app.

Although I can see iPhone screens being flooded by micro-transaction alerts...

Good old days (1)

Dracil (732975) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169275)

I remember the good old days when there were no such things as DLC. They were simply called free patches.

Those days still exist! (1, Insightful)

billlava (1270394) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169385)

Valve Software patches their games frequently, and not just bug fixes. Team Fortress 2 [teamfortress.com] for example regularly comes out with "themed" update packs that will give new unlockable weapons and abilities to individual characters, new maps, and new gameplay modes. Seriously, they keep the content coming even almost 2 years after the game first came out, with no sign of letting up!

Re:Good old days (1)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 4 years ago | (#28170709)

I guess the developers want to encourage us to steal the original content, then pay for the DLC? I understand that the DLC is seen as a way to monetize all those pirates out there. So, again, the legitimate users get screwed in the process.

Why? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28169099)

Why would I buy anything for my iPhone when I can just warez it instead? Fuck da man! Long live anarchy! M$ + @pple = new world order. Fight the p0wer

This will end badly (4, Insightful)

MacAnkka (1172589) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169109)

These micro transactions have some ok poential uses, but some of the uses are just down-right silly. Like that FPS game Apple demoed, where you can pay some tens of cents to get a rocket launcher to get an advantage. I, personally, can't wait to see the Slashdot story about a kid who racked up tens of thousands of dollars of debt with his parents credit card by trying to be the best on a silly FPS server.

Re:This will end badly (4, Insightful)

tattood (855883) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169929)

That's why the parent doesn't give the kid the full access to the credit card. They buy him the iTunes gift cards in pre-determined amounts. The kid gets $20 worth of music/apps/in-game-credits, and once they have been spent, there are no more until the next birthday/etc. You hear the same story about kids racking up thousand dollar cell phone bills from sending 500 text messages a day. If you give your kid a toy that requires payment to use, YOU, the parent, need to control how much can be spent on it.

Re:This will end badly (2, Insightful)

harryandthehenderson (1559721) | more than 4 years ago | (#28170269)

If a parent is dumb enough to give their kid full, unsupervised access to use their credit card then they deserve all the charges that get racked up.

Takes me back (4, Interesting)

Norsefire (1494323) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169115)

You are out of lives.

Pay 20c to continue.

The more things change... (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169373)

You are out of lives.

Pay 20c to continue.

How, exactly, is the arcade model markedly different from the MMORPG monthly fee model? I guess the more things change, the more things stay the same.

Re:The more things change... (3, Interesting)

Norsefire (1494323) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169443)

MMOs make you pay regardless of if you die or not.

Re:The more things change... (2, Interesting)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | more than 4 years ago | (#28170133)

MMOs make you pay regardless of if you play or not, after you sign up.

Re:The more things change... (0, Flamebait)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 4 years ago | (#28170727)

Wow, that's good to know. Having cancelled my WoW account for months at a time when I do other things, I had no idea I was still paying for it. I thought I only paid the months that I wanted to play. Good to know.

Re:The more things change... (2, Interesting)

redJag (662818) | more than 4 years ago | (#28171043)

On the flip side, they don't usually charge you when you DO die :) Other than in-game penalties, that is (which could be argued to translate to real life dollars, time is money, blah blah freakin' blah!).

Abuse? (3, Interesting)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169117)

How long until we start seeing "lite" apps with all the buttons, but there's a tiny bit of text at the bottom "If you would like to click this button, you agree to pay $.25". /tinfoilhat

Back to reality though, I really like that the iphone app store was once a place where dev's could make a halfway decent program based on a really cool idea and make money as a reward. It also felt like the golden days of the old shareware scene before it got stale and people started depending on it and expecting it to pay their bills. While I have yet to pay for an app on the itouch, there are a few I might have if I had an iphone with it's mobile connection and gps (the geocaching app would be the first on my list).

However, I really don't like the idea of a microtransaction for iphone gaming. I think that the microtransaction system in gaming implies that someone has a heavy emotional attachment to the game and the majority of microtransaction items are prestige items. In order for those two criteria to work, you need two criteria: A game that someone will play for more than a few hours before buying another $1.00 game and persistent multiplayer. I.E. Why buy a coat for a character that you will play on a plane flight and never again? Especially if the only way that people will see it is if you show them the character on your iphone. ("Oh, that's nice, you paid extra for him to be lime green!"). By the way, if you're thinking of buying extra levels, how many labyrinth lite instances have you seen on iphones? How many full versions? The only difference is more levels, but I haven't met anybody that felt the need to buy more levels for a novelty game.

That and the other major types of apps that i've seen IT and casual people use are information access type apps (urban spoon, website readers like for fmylife, directories, directions, recipes, etc) and resource access type apps (ssh, remote login, and other IT based monitoring/remote tools), nobody is going to pay a quarter every time they want to look up directions or login to thier server, and they'll probably just buy the full app and expense it or eat the cost for making their lives "easier". So the only thing I can see is a feature list a la carte, i.e. if you look at the list of features that differentiate a lite and full version of an app, and you only charge a small amount per feature, you might get more money in the long run due to people not wanting everything, but only picking out what suits them.

Re:Abuse? (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169439)

I agree that your examples aren't things I would be intereasted in paying for, but I don't see why it is bad that such things are available to those who want them.

There are people willing to pay for decoration in both real life and virtual, so someone is going to try to service that market in some way. I don't understand the mentality but I'm not really affected by its existence.

Having used Apple products for many years now I doubt they will allow the applications they distribute to trick people into buying things. I don't think microtransactions should be held back by the possibility that someone who isn't very bright might unknowingly click through whatever hoops and buy something unintentionally. I don't think games that depend on microtransactions will eliminate those that don't and 'force' every gamer into that model.

But the disclaimer is that I've yet to run into any specific content, games music movies, that absolutely cannot stop myself from consuming despite not liking its price or sales model. Others may have had a different experience.

Re:Abuse? (3, Interesting)

Tokerat (150341) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169477)

I.E. Why buy a coat for a character that you will play on a plane flight and never again? Especially if the only way that people will see it is if you show them the character on your iphone. ("Oh, that's nice, you paid extra for him to be lime green!").

One of two things will happen. Either people are dumb enough to do it and make it profitable, or game companies will find out quickly that it's the Apple App Store, not the PS3 Network where 12 year olds kick and scream until their parents let them download the MGS1 DLC Pack for LittleBigPlanet for $1.99.

If you hear DLC and you think "Oh, that must mean they're going to sell minimal games and then charge for every little piece of the full game and that's it" then it's a good thing you're not a game developer, because your customers would buy your games exactly once and be done with you. Now, I'm sure we'll see this happen to SOME extent, but people aren't stupid - we don't like screens littered with advertisements, we don't like paying by the minute (even though you can't DO that very well with micropayments - it's not auto-pay you know) if there is a similar application that is a one-time purchase, and if you want us to subscribe to something it better be freakin' phenomenal.

The case for micropayments (5, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169133)

A lot of people here can see no good from micropayments.

However, it allows the developer to make the initial game much cheaper, and thus gives you more of an ability to try a game for less - essentially you could replace the lite/full version with a single version that let you buy more levels.

Then as a gamer, if you liked it you could buy the rest of the game... or perhaps mid game you could decide the level design had gone to pot and buy no more.

in-game payments is just a tool, and like any tool it can be abused - but that does not mean the tool should not exist and cannot be helpful. In the end the companies that treat the consumer with respect will make the most of it.

Re:The case for micropayments (2, Informative)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169267)

I don't think that the slashdotters are afraid of individual dev's abusing the power, but instead when apple (which is a company with shareholders and a responsibiltiy to share holders and has a history of wishing to turn a profit [apple-touch.com] ) decides that they want to follow other content market administrators and limit what dev's can give away for free. [1up.com]

Re:The case for micropayments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28170135)

limit what dev's can give away for free.

Apple has said that they will let the developer choose the price of their app, even if the price is zero. And am I missing something with the second article? It has nothing to do with micro-payments to get stuff in games.

Re:The case for micropayments (2, Insightful)

Dracil (732975) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169287)

I remember the good old days when that was simply called a free demo.

Re:The case for micropayments (1)

Mishotaki (957104) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169611)

I remember the good old days when that was simply called a free demo.

now they are called fee demo

Re:The case for micropayments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28170323)

Capture the flag become Capture the fee? Fair play become Feeplay? Fee fantasy? Duke Nukem Fee-ever? Fail become Fee?

Re:The case for micropayments (2, Interesting)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169521)

Then as a gamer, if you liked it you could buy the rest of the game... or perhaps mid game you could decide the level design had gone to pot and buy no more.

Sounds great in theory... but in practice, I'd hate it. Nothing like ruining a sense of accomplishment by forcing the player to add cash to continue. Paying $X for extra lives makes more sense... just like most coin-op videogames.

If micropayments HAVE to be done, then they need to be done gracefully. For games, I'd love to hear from some Korean gamers who have been getting hit by the micropayment hammer for a while now... what is their take on it?

I think, so far, most people have gotten used to paying for access to content (via ISP), but not actually paying for the content online. This is a recurring issue re: micropayments, re: paywalls, etc. At some point we all have to realize that all this content is not free to produce, and we might have to start paying for it, like it or not.

I know that I, personally, will change my browsing/app habits to minimize cost... and the web as we know it will go the way of the dodo.

Re:The case for micropayments (1)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 4 years ago | (#28171485)

Seriously. It has worked well for the XBox and games like Rock Band. Since Apple is so insistent on making their phone a console, it makes sense that they would promote the same revenue model.

Of course, buying games by the level is as stupid as buying only the "hit" songs on an album. It's a good way to promote fluff while leaving the long, complex, rewarding gems lost in the sales rankings. I don't look forward to seeing the new wave of fart applications, now with downloadable sound effects.

Speak up! (1)

goldaryn (834427) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169193)

it's actually a hugely positive thing for several reasons [...]
Downloadable content, virtual items, subscription billing and fast-track social advancement


Sorry, the deafening Kerching! Kerching! Kerching! Kerching! drowned you out there..

This is NOT a bad thing. (5, Insightful)

Tokerat (150341) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169359)

1. You are warned everytime an App charges you. I don't understand the people acting like "micropayments" means "happens automatically without your knowledge".

2. If you don't like the payment model a certain App uses, vote with your wallet. Stop using it. Developers are only going to make money nickel-and-diming you all if you LET THEM.

3. Free Apps will not go away. It isn't like people said "Oh gee, I wish we could only charge $0.50 for this. I guess we'll give it away instead of making any money". Those Apps are free because whoever made them had the ability and desire to release them that way.

So, calm the fuck down.

Re:This is NOT a bad thing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28169781)

They said the same thing about PPV when it raised its head. People assumed their satellite (Europe's sat TV took off in the 80s) subscription costs would drop, and that they could pay for the programming they wanted. The reality was the reverse. The content they'd been getting as the package got re-factored, and anything that would have been an event disappeared into PPVland.

Re:This is NOT a bad thing. (1)

notoriou5 (956084) | more than 4 years ago | (#28170627)

Right. People develop games for money or personal satisfaction (aka fame). There is nothing wrong with this business model. Use it as you may. This is not some apocalyptic event. It is capitalism at its best. Does anyone think this concept could be stopped? Doubt it. So, yes, calm the fuck down.

Isn't this going backwards? (3, Informative)

webdog314 (960286) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169433)

I thought the whole point about the App Store was that you could BUY an app (as in, ONCE). This is very different than services such as Verizon's Get It Now, which allows you to get a SUBSCRIPTION to an app that you will pay for again and again each month for as long as you own the phone (or cancel the subscription). I understand about being able to "try" something to see if it's worth sticking with, but come on, most apps for the iPhone are a buck or two. You pick up a dozen for the cost of lunch. And how long is it going to be before the average "micropayment" starts creeping up to near what the greater percentage of apps cost now (.99)? Poof! You're Verizon again.

I like microtransactions. (2, Interesting)

Sowelu (713889) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169491)

I was really pissed when Bitpass went down. Sure, I only ended up using it for a few webcomics passes, but it sure was worth it, and I wish I'd had more to spend it on. I like the system. I like being able to buy things for a quarter. I don't think that this is going to unleash a horrible torrent of games that need micropayments, IE "Want an extra life? That'll be five cents". However I sure wouldn't mind returning to the old shareware model where the next three episodes of Wolfenstein or whatever costs a small amount.

As long as my micropayments go toward something semi-permanent (more levels) instead of something transient (an extra life), I'm totally cool with it--and I'm also cool with other people liking the transient stuff. There's not enough ways to pay small amounts of money for things that are worth small amounts of money, so this sounds good to me. I'll always have my choice to play games that just don't use that feature anyway.

...Of course, I don't even HAVE an iPhone, but I like this on principle...

Microtransactions lead to macrotransactions (2, Informative)

bickle (101226) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169531)

Mircotransactions would be fine if they didn't morph into macrotransactions. Xbox Live is a great example. Games and add-ons were routinely priced at $5. A little pricey, but doable. Then a few started charging $10. But these were just larger, premium items (sure...). These days, a $5 item is a rarity, most are $10, with a few reaching to $20. We will get to the same situation as we are with full price games (if we aren't there already), where you can pay $69-79 for a special edition game, and still not have all of the content (Resident Evil 5, Street Fighter IV). Micropayment, blech. Mine are going to be so micro that the publishers will never see them.

Pay for additional levels inside a game (1)

kenh (9056) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169567)

I'm not a gamer myself, but I can imagine a freely downloadable game that has additional levels available for a trivial amount of money (instead of a $5 app, a 50 cent to $1 pack of additional levels, up to $5 to get/unlock all levels). This would cost the gamer that wants all the levels the same amount, but others could play the game and would buy additional levels as long as the game is engaging...

I can easily imagine this increasing over-all revenues per game, as many people would download the free game, then large number might buy the first set of additional levels, a smaller number might get the second additional level, etc, with only a few paying for all levels.

Chill Out - you just like to complain. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28169719)

Wow, I have noticed it for a while here on Slashdot, but the only reason that people seem to comment is to complain (this too may be considered a complaint). Cheer up basement dwellers, as an iPhone developer writing games aimed at young children I can assure you that its not as easy as people are making it out to be to profit off of little fingers making little mistakes. ...If it were so, people would abuse that and apple does a ton to make sure that no one gives them a bad name, many times even at the cost of not allowing very innovative and cool games to the market, or even very legit charity applications.

Apple plays a mean game of 'cover you ass' folks.

later,
-MG

Blah Ninja Pirate Blah (0, Offtopic)

kenp2002 (545495) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169743)

Blah Ninja Pirate
Giddy on up
Giddy on Up

Blah Ninja Pirate
Giddy on up
Giddy on Up

2 cents and lookin all fly
gonna get a quick boost
gonna let her fly

Another 5 cents getting into a groove
get the ninja gear
and pwn some n00bz

Blah Ninja Pirate
Giddy on up
Giddy on Up

Blah Ninja Pirate
Giddy on up
Giddy on Up

Like fly wiseman once told me true
what you throw out comes back to you
for another 5 cents he'll show ya too

A buck now and 4 cents again
30+ life and I'm back again
Fighting like a pirate with a master plan

Blah Ninja Pirate
Giddy on up
Giddy on Up

Blah Ninja Pirate
Giddy on up
Giddy on Up

2Cold said again .25 cents was the master plan
but the Internet shrank the world again

No smokin no drink and the arcades are dead
so lets try somethin' like 4/10th a cent
and see if that money starts rollin in

Blah Ninja Pirate
Giddy on up
Giddy on Up

Blah Ninja Pirate
Giddy on up
Giddy on Up

Meh wtf lets sing it again

Blah Ninja Pirate
Giddy on up
Giddy on Up

say what?!

Blah Ninja Pirate
Giddy on up
Giddy on Up

Blah Ninja Pirate
Giddy on up
Giddy on Up

oh I luv ya baby say it again!

Blah Ninja Pirate
Giddy on up
Giddy on Up

MICRO HOLMES PEACE!

Apple needs to get licensed as a bank (1, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#28169849)

At the point Apple starts acting as a money transfer agent for third parties, they need to start acting like a financial institution. Either they're a bank, or they're a money transfer company, both of which are regulated.

PayPal eventually had to register as a financial institution in Europe and in some US states. Apple will have to do the same.

Re:Apple needs to get licensed as a bank (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28172001)

At the point Apple starts acting as a money transfer agent for third parties, they need to start acting like a financial institution. Either they're a bank, or they're a money transfer company, both of which are regulated..

How are what they are doing any different than a retail store that sells on consignment? This is far from a financial institution.

We demand more! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28169891)

Please publish more Apple/iPhone stories, no matter how pointless. Thank you.

Idea seems to be OK, imlementation not so much.. (1)

Seth Kriticos (1227934) | more than 4 years ago | (#28170089)

I see some potential for micro payments, but the current and past initiatives seem to have some flaws:

Flaw 1: There is no limit. Micro payments would be nice in a way, that you deposit some amount of money on a micro-payment account (10-20 dollars for instance) and then use it until it is empty. Then you could reload it manually, for instance with an online banking account (no automatic loading of the account to limit potential losses, like with pre paid phones).

Flaw 2: Greed. Come on, 20-70 ct are not exactly micro, especially in the current environment. They are small at best. If you could get some premium content for like 1-5 ct, then people might be convinced to use it. The whole idea is to use the economics of scale. This would help small developers to create some content/service/whatever and get a compensation for it.

The current implementations seem to fail to adopt to real conditions. Wake me when we get something workable.

honestly (1)

karl3 (1521571) | more than 4 years ago | (#28170337)

i know that most of humans aren't actually beacons of rationality, but ppl are not that stupid either.

As long as the following is true: (1)

JimboFBX (1097277) | more than 4 years ago | (#28170509)

1. Nobody advertises a feature on an app as if it was included only to find out you have to pay extra for it
2. Its impossible to get "auto-charged"

Verbal Garnish (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 4 years ago | (#28170689)

"Micro Transaction" == "Regularly made payment" == "Rental model for all your media and games".

Never forget, Apple supports DRM, a leopard can't change its spots.

Everyone is missing the scam (2, Insightful)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 4 years ago | (#28171621)

  1. make a game with decent content
  2. market it successfully
  3. sell a bunch of copies
  4. neglect marketing
  5. update app, locking users out of previously accessible content
  6. reap microtransactions

FAIL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28171983)

Ummmm...this trial balloon gets floated about every 18 months. FAIL.

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