You may think that, by sticking to free apps, you’re doing yourself a big favor as far as saving money goes. You could be right, but many of your peers may be sinking a lot of cash into supposed free apps. A new study by Distimo shows that it doesn’t really matter that an app is free; plenty of users still end up spending money anyway. In the United States this past February, a mere 24 percent of iOS app revenue even comes from the actual purchase of an app. The remaining 76 percent of all app revenue was generated from in-app purchases.
When you really stop to think about it, it isn’t too surprising. Take, for example, The Simpsons game. You’re a fan of the show, so you downloaded the related social mobile game, especially because it’s free of charge. You’re good to go, slow and steady, until you get impatient and desperately long for a hefty supply of the game’s hard-to-get donuts so you can help speed things up; the biggest package of the sweet treat will run you $100.
That’s not the only game that gives users the option to buy virtual currency in-app. There are a whole slew of them — not to mention games that let you buy advanced equipment, unlock hidden levels, and more. Among the heaviest hitters in February was Clash of Clans, Candy Crush Saga, Hay Day, Marvel War of Heroes, and then the aforementioned Simpsons: Tapped Out. Don’t even get us started on Smurf’s Village.
This isn’t the first time in-app purchases have made headlines. We recently reported about children raking up anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars’ worth of in-app purchases, much to the dismay of their parents. And more recently, Apple has begun issuing warnings in the iTunes store so that users were made aware of apps that offer in-app purchases, prior to downloading.
But don’t worry, if you’re worried about your little ones, or even your own self-control, there are precautions that you can take.
Have you downloaded a free app and then eventually broken down to help you out along the way? What’s the most you’ve spent on an in-app purchase, if anything?