Apple highlights freemium gaming alternatives with the App Store’s ‘Pay Once & Play’

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Apple has added a new “Pay Once & Play” section to the iOS App Store, highlighting games that do not include any in-app purchases. The new section features some of the most popular, professionally developed games that the App Store has to offer, such as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, XCOM: Enemy Within, Thomas Was Alone, Minecraft, The Banner Saga, and BioShock.

“Enjoy hours of uninterrupted fun with complete experiences spanning the App Store’s most beloved genres,” the company said in a statement announcing the section. “Packed with thrills and unforgettable moments, these powerhouse games belong in every collection.”

The new section follows naturally after 2014 when Amazon, Apple, and Google all fell under fire from multiple governmental trade organizations for problematic “freemium” app sales. Freemium apps typically replace one, upfront charge with a free initial download followed by the opportunity to make multiple, smaller in-app purchases. In games these can come in the form of new levels, stat boosts, cosmetic customization, or limited-use items. The model has allowed games like Clash of Clans, Age of War, and Candy Crush Saga to become the top-grossing apps in the store even though all three can be downloaded for free.

Apple started 2014 with a Federal Trade Commission settlement worth $32 million, for parents whose children made extensive in-app purchases without permission. The FTC filed a similar suit against Amazon later in 2014. Unlike Apple, Amazon refused to settle and instead opted to push the matter into court. The Italian Antitrust and Competition Authority began a similar investigation against Amazon, Apple, and Google in May 2014.

In response to the flurry of lawsuits and complaints, Google promised the European Union in July 2014 that it would stop labeling games with in-app purchases as “Free” in the Play Store. Apple made a similar change in November of that year, changing the “Free” label to “Get” when there are in-game charges available but no upfront cost.

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