Are In-Game Purchases Doomed?

I probably made my last in-game purchase last week on my iPad. Something happened that got me to thinking and wondering. Are in game purchases eventually doomed to failure? Are the companies who make and/or distribute the games, especially the ‘free’ ones, going to go too far and alienate their users so that the revenue stream from in-app purchases will eventually dry up? Probably not. But if enough people react the way I did, and enough game companies start to get greedy and stupid, they may be doomed.

Admittedly, I am not a big in-app purchaser. Most of the time, if I do purchase something in an app on my iPad or iPhone, it is a book or music. However, I have made a couple in app purchases because the app was free and I wanted to do something to support the developer. For example, I don’t know why I like Pocket Frogsexternal_link from NimbleBitexternal_link, but I do and as a minor way of support to the developers, I bought in the game a doodad that makes the game a bit more fun. What is important, the doodad wasn’t required to play the game or enjoy it. Angry Birds has the Mighty Eagle as an available in-app purchase to help you get unstuck, if you want to, it isn’t required. And being good, I haven’t needed it .

But this last week, one of the games I had been playing a lot and have made several in-game purchases because I felt it would support the developers and keep them developing the game, well, the distributors/developers did something that got me fairly riled up. I even threw some hastily written tweets out. After thinking about it, I made the decision to not ever do another in app purchase in any of the apps that have that particular game company’s name on it (and I have 5 of them). They made an in-game purchase needed to be able to accomplish a goal for the game. Suddenly, an in-app purchase felt required to get beyond a point. And I suppose what really got me riled up, I had already purchased the doodad a couple months earlier. They wanted me to buy it again, this time not because I wanted to but because I had to.

But my decision has got me looking at all in-game purchases, not just those from that one company. I will probably be a lot less willing to do any more in-game purchases because of it. This is true not only of apps on a mobile device but the desktop ones too. For example, there are a lot of items you can buy to use in WoW. There are mounts, pets, and other nifty items not needed for game play but fun to have. I get to wondering if I really want to spend that kind of money on something that is so transitory.

Of course, there are some in-game purchases that just has me head scratching wondering who would pay that much for that. For example, one game I have looked at has special deals to buy a lot of in-game play money for a whole lot of real money, $99.00! For a game on my iPad? Ok, I hear some of you chuckling, pointing your finger saying, you spend more than that to play WoW in a year. True.  But then again, I am not just tapping on a few things, planting flowers, baking a cake, or whatever for a few minutes and then close the game up. WoW is immersive with a lot more content to play with.

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