Apple adds ‘Offers In-App Purchases’ warning to the iTunes App Store (updated)

Apple adds ‘Offers In-App Purchases’ warning to the iTunes App Store (updated)Apple has added a new warning label to apps in the iTunes App Store that contain in-app purchase options. You can now see at a glance if a particular app you are considering buying has in-app purchases. This new feature will hopefully help you make good decisions when buying apps that appear to be free but then later encourage you to upgrade them within the app; sometimes at really high costs.

The new “Offers In-App Purchases” warning is currently only visible within the desktop version of the iTunes App Store; but we would expect that to be rolled out across the iPhone and iPad versions of the store very soon. The new warning coincides with Apple settling a US lawsuit over in-app purchases and numerous other stories around the world of children running up huge bills on their parents credit cards.

The new warning will still not prevent careless parents from allowing their children access to their passwords and running up huge bills but it will give Apple a better legal argument. Also it may be a sign that Apple could offer the ability to filter apps from the App Store that contain in-app purchases; this could be a good option for parents that give their children access to their iTunes password to download free apps.

One thing is for certain, the “Freemium” model where apps are offered for free and then offer upgrades via in-app purchases looks here to stay. Some of the most high profile apps like Real Racing 3 are adopting this model. Rather than selling an app for an upfront cost, a developer can give it away free and then earn much more through paid power ups and features.

I personally really dislike the "Freemium" model and would rather pay upfront for the whole game. I avoid any game that offers in-app purchases but that is my choice. What do you think of the "Freemum" model with in-app purchases?

Update: The warning has now propagated throughout the App Store on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

chrisoldroyd

UK editor at iMore, mobile technology lover and air conditioning design engineer.

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Apple adds ‘Offers In-App Purchases’ warning to the iTunes App Store (updated)

41 Comments

I can also verify the notice is in the App Store on iPhone. Just checked Real Racing 3. I personally dislike freemium as well, if I want the game I'll buy it, allow a demo for people to see if they want to buy it though, and if you're going to make it free then make it free all the way through. And by no means, ever, I mean never ever, expect someone to pay for an app, and then continue to charge them in app.
I do hope though, that this notice at least makes people think twice about using freemium on iOS. Cause here's the thing, a lot of people want free and as soon as they see that notice will say "ha, I didn't need that app anyway" and move on to the next.

I guess for me in-app purchases are alright just so long as the game is still reasonably playable without them (i.e., grinding high levels shouldn't take hours compared if you bought an item which will get you a level within 5 minutes). But given the choice, yeah, I agree with you that it's better to just pay for the whole game upfront rather than freemium models.

Freemium isn't free it's just delayed debit. Apps that cost then sell in app purchases are like layaway pay a little down then by the month later till it cost you more then if it had a cash buy now complete choice. And Freemium is just revolving credit which I try to pass on. I do like some apps that have a lite version for trying out app and then a regular or pro app that for all features you pay up front. So like life nothing free it only depends on when u want to pay for it.

I think the parents should have got $0 from Apple as they are the ones who basically allowed this. We have no accountability anymore. I gave my 5 year old an old iPod touch we had and turned on restrictions and she can't purchase apps or in-app purchases. It took all of 5 seconds and no issues.

Gasp!!!! A responsible parent that takes accountibility for his childs actions.....in 2013!!!! I'm being 100% serious, no trolling at all, thank you for having some sense & the "there is no accountability anymore" is spot on.

This is actually convenient. You don't have to scroll down every time to check if there are in-app purchases indeed available.

I enjoy this very much. I'm a fan of Freenium when its properly done. I do not like having to pay just to gain levels or items that are NEEDED to complete the game. Freenium should be used to speed things up, not complete them.

I agree with you on one point. Don't make me buy something to progress/finish the game, give me the choice to buy something so I can get there more quickly. If I have to buy to progress, I end up not paying, I just delete and never play the game again.

Right there with you Chris regarding the "pay up front" model, but I know I'm probably in the minority that prefers to download the paid/pro version of an app instead of the free/trial version & have always been like that since day 1.

I personally hate the freemium model and avoid any games using this method. While I see it's appeal for some people I find it very annoying. The worst thing is the free section of the App Store is now riddled with these apps so it's a little hard to know what's actually free and what isn't. I've started staying away from free apps now in general and shop the free section very infrequently where it used to be a near daily occasion.

You know, I used to shop the free section also. I never look there anymore. Unfortunately, the paid section is getting like this more and more.

Since I don't visit the free section anymore I don't shop the paid apps either. The free apps used to bring me in and I would look over both lists. A few times a month I drop into the app store to see if anything catches my eye. I'm making a lot less impulse purchases now which is a good thing for me I guess....no so much for the developers however.

I'm so glad this was implemented. I have purchase so many free apps that I later discover you have to purchase additional. I would rather know in advance. This is a good thing. I'm glad this happened!

The notification is a good thing. I agree with you 100%, I too would rather know in advance.

Good, finally. I am not a fan of apps with this "feature" and generally avoid d/l any app known to have anything of the sort.

I think it's important Apple did this, warning users before they download about the risks of being sucked into the infamous Freemium scheme. Especially great for parents who would otherwise not be aware of the consequences of them.

Unfortunately the model is so successful, in a year or two we probably won't need the label anymore since every game will have in-app purchases. The ones that really piss me off are the ones that charge up front, then also charge you to get the full experience from the game.

I really don't mind them selling extra stuff in the game as long as the game is full featured without buying anything extra. Some games do this better then others. Of course there's the temtation to leave off portions of the game that would have been otherwise included if in app purchases weren't available. This has become a big issue on the console side as different maps and levels are sometimes purposely saved for paid DLC.

Great article Chris!! Look I am completely on the same page with you. I honestly still play Infinty Blade 2 and one of the great things is I paid upfront and still have the option to purchase in game money to use but its not in my face consistently. I had downloaded Cut the rope mainly fo my kids to play and it is a Freemium product but I got annoyed with the constant pop ups that made my 2 yr old push the wrong thing. I had to cancel out of the in game purchase like every level just so she could play... Very annoying so I deleted it today. I like the free games especially for my kids but just make it a chopped down "lite" version and then make it for purchase. One thing I liked about gaming on my phone was the low cost of premium games and the portability of the device. Keep up the great work!!

Finally I don't have to download a supposedly 'free' app and be disappointed with the bombardment of in-app purchases. Thank you Apple.

This is actually a kind of nice feature. Almost every free game app out there now tends to follow the "freemium" model though, so it is almost pointless. If they could integrate a filter system into the App Store that would be cool though. It's always annoying to download a game and realize that it is going to try and sell you in app content every 5 minutes. If much rather just pay a one time, up front cost for the app.

It's kinda nice to add more emphasis. The issue of accidental purchasing of those "in-app" could be minimized. Parents would be more cautious especially when their kids asked for their password.

I agree, I am also not in favour of freemium model. As far as "Warning" is concerned, I think it is a good idea to let the consumer know especially after reading about instances where kids have racked up bills worth several thousand dollars.

Sweet, I love that there's a warning label for downloaders, so to speak. Prevent any unpleasant surprises.

I do believe this is a good idea at least for the general public. Most probably will miss reading this, but as we all say BUY apps to help with development! ! !

I also do not like the freemium model. Let me just buy the game and have all of it. I don't give my hard earned money to the developers via this process. I would much rather pay for the game up front. I really don't like enjoying a game and then not being able to get the full game unless I buy.

This reminds me of the old online games that were free to play and then tried to suck your wallet dry so you could continue to enjoy the game. No, I don't support this either, but as you say, it appears here to stay. To bad developers were pushed in this direction by the consumers.

Sadly you're right. If people would have stopped buying IAP's we woudn't be in this spot. I was really shocked when I started hearing how much money people were spending on virtual stuff that was tied to one game.

My daughter "accidentally" spent $10 in tiny tower after I downloaded an app 3 minutes prior. Password should be mandatory for every purchase

Apple should allow that the password should be entered every single time an in-app purchase is made from an account. That would help in preventing impulse buys or when it is done by mistake. Although I don't see this happening.

I think Apple needs to disable in-app purchases for apps if the users chooses to do so. It is not fair that you have to avoid playing a game if you have to pay additional money in order to get the full experience that the app offers to users who have the money to pay in-app purchases. Not to mention, it is not fair to parents who want to be able to trust their kids enough to give them a password for a free app, just to have their kid run up a bill on them. Why is their not the option to avoid having this happen? It would make more sense to allow it to be disabled.

Always felt like needed clarification or better prominence in the descriptions, especially when apps are listed as "free"

I don't shop for paid apps, just downloading free apps (even sponsored apps)
The offers in-app purchases warning is relevant to me that the game/app has in-app purchases.

I think this a great and needed update. I do however think that about 99% of the games for iOS are in app purchase games so maybe this is pointless. This really upsets me because Apple should just put a stop to this immediately. Apple has so much power and control that they could just say by this date no more in app purchases and that would be the end of it. Money is king. Maybe next in the iBook store you can buy an awesome book for 99 cents but in order to get every even work in Chapter 2 you have to buy some credits.