iOS users trawling the App Store for the latest and greatest free apps might be surprised to find that the ‘Free’ section of the App Store is no more. Don’t panic, free apps are not gone. They’ve just been rebranded with a ‘Get’ button.
It seems Apple is worried that users will be upset if they download a free app that eventually ends up costing money through in-app purchases or expansions. The company hasn’t made any statement about the change, but it’s possible Apple didn’t want to get into hot water with the European Commission. The EC last year dished out a series of requests regarding free games. Mainly that they not mislead the user about the true costs of a game if it was advertised as free.
Earlier this year, Google made the decision to stop listing free to download games with in-app purchases as “free” within the EU. Not long after, the company started adding in-app purchase price ranges to app listings in the Play Store.
While it’s great that consumers will now have a better idea of the difference between pay-to-play and totally free apps, the downside is that removing the magic word (‘free’) could mean users are more reluctant to download apps in general. Especially if they’re not used to spending a lot of time in the App Store.