In-app purchases are a great way for app developers to generate recurring revenue. The downside is that consumers often feel like they’re being tricked. Especially if it’s a pay-to-play app that requires you to pay money to advance in a game or access certain functions of the app.
Apple and Google have both taken steps to identify apps that offer in-app purchases but Apple took things one step further this week with a new App Store category pushing ‘pay once’ apps that don’t ask for money beyond the initial purchase.
Right now, Apple seems to be focusing on games. The featured “Pay Once & Play” apps are billed as “hours of uninterrupted fun” and it’s true that games are the most common genre of pay-to-play applications. However, it’s not just mobile game developers that are hooking users with free versions of their app only to ask for money for the more premium experience. The benefit of IAPs is that they allow developers to offer just one app as opposed to separate ‘Lite’ and ‘Pro’ versions.
It’s entirely likely that this category will grow to include productivity and security apps, too. In November, Apple replaced the word ‘free’ with the word ‘get’ in the App Store. This move came a few months after Google stopped listing free-to-download games with in-app purchases as “free” within the EU. Google eventually started adding in-app purchase price ranges to app listings in the Play Store.