Freemium games are on the rise, but there has been a widespread criticism of them since their inception. Why? Because Freemium games are in no way free. Yeah, they start out free, and you can play them without ever paying a dime, but then people are pressured into making microtransactions in order to make a game they thought was free, playable, or even beatable. Sometimes even being forced to wait for hours to continue playing the game, unless you pay real money to continue playing.
As a result, Apple, following the lead of Google, has got rid of the “free” label for all games that have micro-transactions in it. They have instead replaced the label with “get.” This came over a year after both Google and Apple sat down with the UK Office of Fair Trading to discuss the ethical issues involving microtransactions in games labeled as free. Which took place just months after a story broke out about a 5 year old boy who spent over 2,100 dollars in just minutes on a Zombies Vs Ninjas free app. In 2011, Apple was sued by angry parents when Apple allowed in-app purchases not password protected, and as a result of this and many other similar lawsuits, Apple lost millions to consumer refunds. Even 19 million that the Federal Trade Commission forced Google to pay back to their consumers if their children spent money without permission in the app, and another 32 million in January of this year from Apple themselves. So in the case of Apple, this is in no way news.
Just weeks before this change, however, a South Park episode pointing out the dangers and addictions of microtransactions in alleged free-to-play games aired. It is unsure whether the episode had any impact on Apples ultimate decision to get rid of the “free” label. And in July of this year, Gaming Youtube Channel Game Theory made a video talking about these games and how they addict.
Since the free app business model is extremely profitable, it is nice to hear that Apple and Google are taking steps (albeit though force) to make sure that people are not lured into the game by the label “free.”