Is an in-app purchase required to unlock game in order to bypass pirating acceptable?

| | August 5, 2015

I’m considering writing a mobile game and looking at distribution. The game will have a server requirement, which means I will have to pay for bandwidth, hosting, processor time, etc. Because of that I’ll need to make at least a little money off this thing. According to the press piracy is rampant in the android community. To get around this, I’m thinking of implementing a simple model where the game is free, perhaps allowing play for X number of turns or something, and then requiring an in-app purchase to continue to play. I would clearly explain this in the app description, and the in-app purchase would be managed per account so it would be linked to your google play account so you wouldn’t have to re-purchase every time you get a new device.

Would gamers accept this model or see it as unreasonable?

3 Responses to “Is an in-app purchase required to unlock game in order to bypass pirating acceptable?”

  1. You could simply provide buyers with a username/password upon purchase of your game and allow them to sign in, actually they could sign in with their googleID which they will provide to you during their purchase and your will add to your server as a payed customer.
    I did something similar with an education service, it could not be very tricky, could it?

    How would you monitor how many turns they played? Sounds like a big database… that could be bypassed somehow by faking user ID, I suggest limiting them to a certain area of the game map in the free version and letting them explore everything in the full version.

    Good luck with your project.

  2. Gregory Avery-Weir on November 30, -0001 @ 12:00 AM

    There’s no real way of knowing without trying it. The variability of success in the mobile market seems very high from everything I’ve read.

    In your place, I’d probably adopt a shareware model. Divide the content up into chapters and offer the first one for free, with the subsequent chapters available through IAP individually or as a bundle for a discount. I’ve seen this model used for a number of free-to-download mobile games, although I don’t know how successful it is.

  3. NoobsArePeople2 on November 30, -0001 @ 12:00 AM

    That’s certainly a legitimate approach, how successful it will be is another matter.

    This article is about an iOS game called Gasketball that took a similar approach and how that worked out for them (spoiler: not so great). Based on this article I don’t think players are enraged by the idea of getting a free-to-play game then paying some amount of money to unlock the full game.

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