Editorial: Are Free Apps Really Free?
Now don’t get me wrong…there are several (okay, many) Apps out there that are free and they actually mean it. You don’t pay a penny for the App itself or for the updates or anything else as time goes on. Sometimes you have to suffer through the in-App advertising and that’s their way of getting you to upgrade (and pay) for the version without. But needless to say, there are Apps out there that are free.
Then there are the ones who hide behind the “free” word only to hit you with in-App game purchases. I’ve had several of these and they tick me off. Why would you offer it as free just to turn around and demand that I pay money in order to continue? No thank you, I’d rather delete the App and try again with another. Free is supposed to be free, not free to download or free to play through the first 5 minutes.
Now don’t get me wrong. There are some games that are “free” to download and then they give you the OPTION to do some in-App purchases and I’m okay with that. Allow me to play the game without buying stuff and I’m good. If other people want to spend money through the in-App store, that’s fine with me. Oregon Trail, Oregon Settler, and Bakery Story are all like that. They are all FREE Apps that you could play as long as you want to WITHOUT HAVING to pay anything to keep going but you could if you WANTED to.
Other games frustrate me because I like the games but there’s an in-App charge to keep going. We Love Katamari, Guitar Hero, and Ghost Trick (my latest “free” downloads) are ones in which you get to play through a level and then you pay in order to continue. WHAT? In Ghost Trick you pay $9.99 for the rest of the story or $4.99 for each of the chapters that are left, which are three in total. So you dish out $9.99 right away or $14.97 if you pay for it piece by piece.
I’m not huge into paying a lot of money for Apps. It’s got to be one helluva App to get me to pay more than a couple of bucks for it. I think I paid $5 for the full App game of Lego Harry Potter and that’s the most I’ve ever spent for an App. That game was well worth it and there wasn’t a need to do any in-App purchases either.
What’s the moral of the story? Free doesn’t always mean free. Yes there are Apps out there that are free and will remain free for as long as you use them but there are more “free” Apps out there that claim to be free but want you to buy stuff once you have started playing.
So just keep an eye out for those in-App purchases and on your wallet. You never know who’s trying to draw out a buck or three here or there. And all those little purchases here and there add up quickly.