The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Viewpoint – Is money spent in-app worth free download?

By Colt Taylor/ campus editor

Free doesn’t mean what it used to.

Start a free trial after you’ve entered your credit card information. Have a free month of membership with the purchase of an entire year. Download our game onto your phone for free and then pay if you want to progress.

While this isn’t true for all app games, those that can be downloaded for free up front usually have some form of micro-transaction in the app. These one-off payments provide anything from in-game currency to advantages unavailable to those who don’t pay and even for the ability to progress through the app. But is it right to refer to these games as free when so much is locked behind a paywall?

It is true that the game itself can be downloaded and played in its base form without payment or disclosure of payment information. Beyond this initial download, the method of micro-transactions varies wildly from game to game. Some ask for one payment to access all the locked content while others may ask you to pay for each individual level. The former is effectively offering a trial to the full game while the latter is attempting to bleed players dry like a mobile arcade cabinet. In both cases, only part of the game is available at download, so should either be allowed to call themselves free to play?

The next general model of free-to-play apps is the buy in-game currency model. Occasionally, the purchased currency is unobtainable by any other means than purchasing and is required for the premium aspects of the game. Exceptions to this are games that offer a premium currency but also occasionally give away small amounts to the player for free, allowing players to access the entire game for free over time. Even with the trickle of premium currency flowing by, the game often thinks up ways of making you want to spend money to progress, but this isn’t always a bad thing.

If spending one dollar on an app entertains you for just 30 minutes, was it worth that single dollar? If you enjoyed the trial levels of a game and want to spend $5 for the rest of them, would it be worth it?

While some apps may use the free-to-play model in a malicious manner, consumers and players should be able to recognize when a game developer is trying to earn money to improve their future content and when a greedy developer is trying to take them for a ride.

 

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