In-Game Purchase DOES NOT Equal FREE!


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In-Game Purchase DOES NOT Equal FREE!

When you look at the image above, what do you think? For me, when I opened AppShopper and saw the new Big Fish game Serpent of Isis for FREE I was thrilled and clicked the link to iTunes right away and grabbed the game. A few hours later I got their iSplash newsletter and saw that the game is NOT free, but in fact is a demo with a $4.99 in-app purchase of the full game.

Here is the image from the newsletter:

In-Game Purchase DOES NOT Equal FREE!

Don’t get me wrong – I love Big Fish adventure games and am sure that Serpent of Isis is well worth $4.99. But I have mixed feelings about how it was represented – it is shown as a game that costs $4.99 regularly but is now Free. Or … perhaps the in-app purchase is normally $4.99 but is half-off for a while? Neither of those are true – the game IS free to try, but to get the full game you need to pay.

How much? I didn’t know until I got the game, installed and ran it on my iPad. Here is the opening screen:

In-Game Purchase DOES NOT Equal FREE!

And when I chose to ‘Buy Now’, I had to tap on a continue button which THEN finally told me how much it would cost.

In-Game Purchase DOES NOT Equal FREE!

The price? $4.99 … exactly the ‘regular’ price shown on AppShopper. Where it says 50% off? Off what? What does that mean?!? Again, I actually like the idea of in-app purchases as a way to allow for demos, but when handled poorly it feels slimy and deceptive.

In the end I removed the game from my iPad and deleted it off my computer. It is unfortunate as my short experience made the game look fun – but they really made the process feel slimy. If they were up-front and just said that the in-app costs $4.99 for a short time which is 50% off the $9.99 regular price I would have said ‘cool’ and bought it.

To check out Serpent of Isis, head here!

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About the Author

Michael Anderson
I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!