I’m sure you’ve all heard the horror stories regarding $1,000 toddler spending sprees fueled by pesky in app purchases (IAPs). Google appears to be taking the matter a little more seriously now, having updated the mobile version of the Google Play Store to include a little tag if the app contains IAPs last December, and now the web version of the store has now undergone the same treatment.
Tucked away just under the install button, nestled next to the list of compatible devices, now reads a little message telling you if the app contains in-app purchases. The slight change appears to have taken place in all major markets, including Europe and the US.
I’ve never been a particularly big fan of IAP powered apps, having never spent a penny on an in-game upgrade, so I’m finding this feature really useful for avoiding the plague of freemium apps in the market. Of course, it’s also a much needed feature to help parents keep track of the games that their kids are playing.
However, if there’s one flaw with this system it’s that it doesn’t help to differentiate between the varying degrees of purchases available. Many apps are supported by very small and more reasonable purchases, some of which will enable permanent premium features, whilst others are content to repeatedly charge customers for overpriced, consumable items. Credit to Apple’s AppStore, here it includes a breakdown of the top in-app purchases for each app, so that consumers can better judge how much the game is likely to cost them.
This update a promising start by Google, but there’s certainly more that could be done, by both Google and development companies, to ensure that consumers are better informed about the likely long term costs of an app.
Do you think that Google is going far enough to inform and keep tabs on in-app purchases, and if not, what do you think Google could do to improve the situation?