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Google To Stop Describing Games With In-App Purchases As 'Free'

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the insert-coin-to-continue dept.

Google 139

An anonymous reader writes After a series of investigations, lawsuits, and fines over how in-app purchases are advertised and communicated to users, Google has agreed to stop labeling games that use in-app purchases as "Free." This change is the result of a request by the European Commission to stop misleading customers about the costs involved with using certain apps. "Games should not contain direct exhortation to children to buy items in a game or to persuade an adult to buy items for them; Consumers should be adequately informed about the payment arrangements for purchases and should not be debited through default settings without consumers' explicit consent." The EC notes that Apple has not yet done anything to address these concerns.

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Free at last (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47485113)

Lord almighty we are free at last

Re:Free at last (2)

Kkloe (2751395) | about 4 months ago | (#47485141)

buy this box of /.-coins and you will be super free, 9.99 just toda

Re:Free at last (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47487321)

Not quite. Now they need to clearly tell people if an app has ads or not.

I'm sick of ads in apps. I have even PAID for apps that I later found out had ads in it.

Apple has 'done nothing'??? (5, Insightful)

printman (54032) | about 4 months ago | (#47485127)

Free apps with in-app purchases show that fact right under the 'Buy' button. And a simple setting controls whether in-app purchases are allowed at all, require approval, or can go through automatically (default is require approval). And iOS 8 has the proxy stuff for family accounts (parental approval for everything if you want).

How is this Apple 'doing nothing'?

Re:Apple has 'done nothing'??? (1, Flamebait)

i kan reed (749298) | about 4 months ago | (#47485181)

Because they're still listed as "free" categorically speaking? Which is deceitful to consumers?

I get that as an apple product owner, you have an understanding that your job is to consume on command, but the rest of us actually want to be frugal sometimes.

Re:Apple has 'done nothing'??? (-1, Troll)

alen (225700) | about 4 months ago | (#47485225)

meanwhile the android owners are dropping $10 on crap like launchers and file managers to feel in control

Re:Apple has 'done nothing'??? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47485271)

It has nothing to do with feeling in control. Launchers and file managers don't give you any more control -- just more flexibility. Believe it or not, we don't all like to have everything decided for us.

Re:Apple has 'done nothing'??? (3, Funny)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 4 months ago | (#47485527)

Yes.. as if alternative launchers for iOS were free.. Wait a moment: alternative laucnerhs for iOS? Oh.. sorry....

Re: Apple has 'done nothing'??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47485693)

Yea us stupid android users buying things like Tasker $2.99 for full automation, file manager where I can edit any file anytime FREE-$2.99 or a app that allows me to run/change a CUSTOM ROM... $0.99 (VM's are being worked on)

What would we do without apple.
Ohhhhhh the horror!

Re:Apple has 'done nothing'??? (4, Interesting)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 4 months ago | (#47485227)

The only one problem with this is there are a few good games where you can play it all for free and the in-apps are completely optional.

Sure, the vast majority of freemium games are crap and serve only to milk people of money, but there are some (Jetpack Joyride, say) where not paying is completely an option - you're really just doing a time-money tradeoff. Play it often and you can get everything, play it a little and pay up to get the thing quicker.

So it's not correct to say that game isn't free, either - it can be played completely for free.

Granted, I did say the vast majority of apps don't qualify for this, but there's still a few that can be played completely to completion without investing a single dime.

Then there are ones that offer in-apps that do stuff like remove ads - and that's it. Is it a free app, or a paid app? You can use the full thing either way, just one has ad content on it.

Re:Apple has 'done nothing'??? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 4 months ago | (#47487497)

World of Tanks and other titles from wargaming are IMO "free to play" in the original spirit of the idea, you can get the same in-game advantages with points as you can with a credit card. The credit card just means you progress in the meta-game much faster. But the meta-game is never ending, so who really cares how fast they progress?

Disclaimer: I have been playing video games on and off since ~1970-71, WoT is the only game I currently subscribe to, after a year of playing for free I was convinced they were a company worth supporting. Suitable for kids, no blood and guts. Speaking of teenage kids, don't ever let them use your credit card - end of story.

Re:Apple has 'done nothing'??? (-1, Troll)

i kan reed (749298) | about 4 months ago | (#47485295)

To those modding this Informative, the people modding me flamebait had it right. That's exactly what I was going for.

Re:Apple has 'done nothing'??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47485403)

Because they're still listed as "free" categorically speaking? Which is deceitful to consumers?

They are 100% free. There are is no deceit what so ever. On top of that if the customer doesn't like any of the in app purchasing option there is nothing forcing them to use it. If the consumer chooses to no longer use it as a result, they are out of no money what so ever. So free is 100% the correct way they should be listed.

Re:Apple has 'done nothing'??? (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 4 months ago | (#47485569)

Because they're still listed as "free" categorically speaking?

Well... "free" as in you don't have to pay money to play.

But as this holds true for "pay if you like the game and get a free party hat", the "come on, the first shot is free" and the unplayble Nag-A-Thon that starts begging for your money right from the beginning, I doubt that there will be a one size fits all solution.

Re:Apple has 'done nothing'??? (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 4 months ago | (#47485691)

I've noticed lately a lot of "free" to download apps won't let you download them unless some form of credit/debit card is attached to the Playstore account. This only started happening recently.

Re:Apple has 'done nothing'??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47487531)

Such as? I have never had that happen. Can you provide a link to an app that does this?

Re:Apple has 'done nothing'??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47485853)

Because they're still listed as "free" categorically speaking?

Well... "free" as in you don't have to pay money to play.

But as this holds true for "pay if you like the game and get a free party hat", the "come on, the first shot is free" and the unplayble Nag-A-Thon that starts begging for your money right from the beginning, I doubt that there will be a one size fits all solution.

Nope, free means no costs at all. No hidden costs either.
And most free games are mislabled, freemium would be a better term.

Re:Apple has 'done nothing'??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47486037)

Because they're still listed as "free" categorically speaking? Which is deceitful to consumers?

I get that as an apple product owner, you have an understanding that your job is to consume on command, but the rest of us actually want to be frugal sometimes.

If you still feel any app listed at zero cost is truly free, well then you've already explained what kind of customer you are, and how you can be fooled.

And when the cost is zero, this has nothing to do with being frugal, and everything to do with being smarter than the app you're attempting to run.

Re:Apple has 'done nothing'??? (2)

mick129 (126225) | about 4 months ago | (#47485421)

This is exactly right. The article at TheVerge even states this:

Apple has also agreed to make changes at the behest of the commission, but it hasn't agreed to any specific actions or any time line. This is much to the commission's disapproval, but Apple doesn't seem particular concerned. In a statement to the BBC, Apple actually says that it's doing "more than others" to protect consumers from in-app purchases, pointing specifically to the upcoming iOS 8 feature Ask to Buy, which prevents children from making purchases and instead allows them to send that purchase to a parent for approval.

The summary is flamebait.

Re:Apple has 'done nothing'??? (1)

Jack9 (11421) | about 4 months ago | (#47485955)

> it hasn't agreed to any specific actions or any time line. This is much to the commission's disapproval, but Apple doesn't seem particular concerned. In a statement to the BBC, Apple actually says that it's doing "more than others" to protect consumers from in-app purchases, pointing specifically to the upcoming iOS 8 feature Ask to Buy, which prevents children from making purchases and instead allows them to send that purchase to a parent for approval.

Lots of talk and a different approach that's specific to apple, for what apple thinks is appropriate.

> The EC notes that Apple has not yet done anything to address these concerns.

> The summary is flamebait.

The summary is accurate. If it wasn't, there would be a filed issue with the EC. You WANT Apple to be in the right...which it may be. That's irrelevant.

Re:Apple has 'done nothing'??? (1)

mick129 (126225) | about 4 months ago | (#47486139)

The summary is accurate.

The summary can be both accurate and incendiary. Being flamebait does not mean it is inaccurate.

In this case, the EC considers the actions Apple has made to be insufficient. That's a less biased way to state the same information than "Apple has done nothing" is.

If it wasn't, there would be a filed issue with the EC.

Citation needed. Why do assume that the EC is functioning at perfect efficiency? There is no situation in which there isn't a filed issue?

You WANT Apple to be in the right...

Citation needed. I have issues with the way Apple's App Store works. Your mind reading leaves something to be desired.

Re:Apple has 'done nothing'??? (1)

Jack9 (11421) | about 4 months ago | (#47486407)

> The summary can be both accurate and incendiary. Being flamebait does not mean it is inaccurate.

I didn't characterize it in any other way. Quit your kneejerk.

> =There is no situation in which there isn't a filed issue?

Apple doesn't seem to care (as per the summary) would be a situation. Apple certainly would take the opportunity to say "Nuh uh" as any corporate entity loves the PR blame game. Information isn't perfect, but it's not a case where it's really necessary. Maybe something will come out tomorrow. Today, nothing.

> Citation needed.

Apple didn't claim one. You're using "Citation needed" to ask for the assertion of something that doesn't exist? Until Apple makes a statement to that effect, none has been made. Citation needed for where you can find out? You can't.

> I have issues with the way Apple's App Store works. Your mind reading leaves something to be desired.

"Mind reading", yet calling the story flamebait...ironic. Flamebait implies that it was to provoke a response. Most readers don't take offense at the subtle distinction between "nothing" and "nothing yet" or even "nothing to satisfy the EC". You chose to interpret it and characterize it as flamebait, from your own imagination.

Re:Apple has 'done nothing'??? (1)

DrXym (126579) | about 4 months ago | (#47485599)

Free apps with in-app purchases show that fact right under the 'Buy' button. And a simple setting controls whether in-app purchases are allowed at all, require approval, or can go through automatically (default is require approval). And iOS 8 has the proxy stuff for family accounts (parental approval for everything if you want). Not really. An app could be genuinely free and the in-app purchase permission might be to sell extra content, or some enable some additional functionality, e.g. maybe a word processor sells you a font pack, or a book reader sells you a book, or a game lets you upgrade to remove ads.

There is no way to tell these sort of apps apart from some scummy Skinner box which hits you up for cash after you're sufficiently hooked.

Re:Apple has 'done nothing'??? (1)

freaktheclown (826263) | about 4 months ago | (#47485861)

There is no way to tell these sort of apps apart from some scummy Skinner box which hits you up for cash after you're sufficiently hooked.

Sure there is. On top of "Offers in-app purchases" being displayed right next to the Download button, all of the available in-app purchases are listed on the app's page along with their prices. The App Store rules also require that IAP purchase descriptions must "accurately describe what each item and how the item is used within your app".

A "buy" button for free things? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47485877)

Free apps with in-app purchases show that fact right under the 'Buy' button.

As an outsider (haven't used iOS in a few years, and even back then, I rarely used the store thing), all I've got is your description, and it just raises questions:

A "Buy" button for something that is free? I don't understand what people would be buying. Does it really say "buy" or something else ("install" maybe?), whenever price==0?

And for ones where it's free-but-also-not-free, does it come up in searches for free things? If so, then I bet that's EC's objection. If the search has some price field and you enter 0 and that brings up software that has post-install costs, it would make sense that the EC would be calling bullshit, regardless of whatever fine print is shown under the "buy" button.

Are there screen shots of this stuff anywhere? I bet you anything that some of the problems can be figured out just from looking at it.

Re:Apple has 'done nothing'??? (1)

reanjr (588767) | about 4 months ago | (#47485939)

Android has also done the same for quite some time. This is going above and beyond those feeble measures.

Freemium usually sucks anyways. (0)

pecosdave (536896) | about 4 months ago | (#47485135)

I can't stand the whole "pay money to get to the next" level thing, it's like you're not really playing a game anymore. On the other hand I find the game DLC [steampowered.com] to be strangely inviting.

Re:Freemium usually sucks anyways. (1)

danbert8 (1024253) | about 4 months ago | (#47485259)

Yeah, like the free games are stupidly hard and you can realistically only complete it if you pay for an upgrade or hints.

Re:Freemium usually sucks anyways. (1)

Cinder6 (894572) | about 4 months ago | (#47485471)

I really wish more games adopted a model where you just pay for access to the next level instead of placing toll bridges or a "pay to win" option. The first stage or area of the game is free (like a demo), and if you like it, you pay $X for the next area, and so on. That way, you only pay for what you actually consume, and anything you unlock is unlocked permanently.

Re:Freemium usually sucks anyways. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47485591)

Congratulations, you've just invented shareware. Everything old is new and all that.

Vladimir Putin (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47485195)

Shot down a plane.

OK. 300 ppl.

George Bush killed 250,000 Iraqis and probably tortured as many. Hitler and Stalin killed millions.

MAKE UP UR MIND.

Think ABOUT IT.

Re:Vladimir Putin (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47485265)

You're right but the mainstream media will only serve to whitewash the issue.

Sad but true.

George Bush == Worst killer of all mankind.

Pretty sure... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47485415)

Hitler, Stalin, possibly Mao, and Genghis Khan all have him beat.

Nevermind US Presidents during the war on the Natives.

Re:Pretty sure... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47485583)

BUSH is WORSTS!

Kill 250,000,000 Iraqis.

Not EXCUSE,,

Re:Pretty sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47485839)

Assuming you are the OP of this off-topic post, your counting sucks ass. First it was 250 thousand, now it is 250 million?

Re:Pretty sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47486351)

Bush is THAT EFFECTIVES!

Re:Pretty sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47487139)

Bush was a failure! He only killed 250,000 Iraqis! Hussein at least managed 6 million of his own people. Bush wishes he could get those numbers!

Good. Now what about ads? (4, Insightful)

danbob999 (2490674) | about 4 months ago | (#47485223)

We should be able to filter out adware applications too. I don't understand how people tolerate adware and nag screens on their cellphone. I thought the days of the infamous WinZIP "I agree" were over. I certainly wouldn't use a file browser, instant messaging client or or text editor on my PC with ads. I don't see why it would be anymore acceptable on phones.

Re:Good. Now what about ads? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47485363)

I think its probably because you're not paying for it.

Re:Good. Now what about ads? (1)

danbob999 (2490674) | about 4 months ago | (#47485755)

Neither am I paying for my text editor, file archiver, ssh client and media player. But you are telling me that a flashlight cellphone application wouldn't exist without ads? At least paid applications you know the price up front. With in-app purchase or ad ware you can be fooled by installing a crappy application.

Re:Good. Now what about ads? (4, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | about 4 months ago | (#47485367)

I Want a game of decent quality, with no add, no in app purchase, no attempt to try to get you to purchase a full version, no attempt to try to upsell an other service and all free.

Heck why limit it to game or software. I want all my products for free with no strings attached. However I want to be sure my employer pays me for my job of writing software.

Re:Good. Now what about ads? (2)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 4 months ago | (#47485407)

Yeah. It's such bullshit that Porsche wants me to give them $180,000 for a 911 Turbo. It's just a couple pieces of metal and four wheels. They should be free.

Re:Good. Now what about ads? (5, Insightful)

Garfong (1815272) | about 4 months ago | (#47485467)

I don't want it all for free, but I think companies should be honest about their business model. I think they should distinguish between "Free" trial, "Free" with paid upgrades, "Free" ad-supported, etc.

Re:Good. Now what about ads? (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 4 months ago | (#47485655)

Or you could be like Deadpool [zoom-comics.com] and just realize if something costs money to make, you're going to have to pay for it one way or another.

Re:Good. Now what about ads? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47486063)

Yeah, its not like people will make something and give it away for free!

https://www.libreoffice.org/
http://www.linuxmint.com/
http://www.gimp.org/

Your list included no games (1)

tepples (727027) | about 4 months ago | (#47487185)

That extends well to tools used by businesses to do business. It doesn't extend so well to things like games.

Re:Your list included no games (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47487553)

*cough* Thwaite [nesdev.com] and Concentration Room [nesdev.com] */cough*

Seriously, though, I don't entirely disagree with you at one level. Once you have a core set of applications/libraries/kernels, then most of what you need is just incremental improvement (and driver support) and security fixes. Yet there's still a world of other applications that come and go and are worth paying some small amount of money for--mostly stuff that's either a niche in scope of users or in scope of how long that application/tool is necessary for some real world task.

Meanwhile, a core group of games doesn't keep most people too engaged indefinitely precisely because games having no underlying purpose, there's a much larger market of ideas that can be implemented and it's much more trivial to engage developers to do the work if they're paid than to leave it up to people who just want to try a shot at a game. Also, it allows for more large projects--large whole "free"/free/open source game development projects exist (Sauerbraten comes to mind), but they're obviously much, much fewer in number.

It's one of the reasons why as much as I support free/open code, I'm more lax about it when it comes to games. Although truth be told, I'm somewhat reversing on that point as more and more games target Unity3D or Monogames and yet *still* don't work on Linux because there's a lack of clear, high sales figures to account for the development costs--probably the hard part is all the testing. The above wouldn't be such a big deal if said games worked under WINE, but they most often don't.

In any case, once one starts thinking of just money, you really suck the fun out of it for potential gamers. It tends to color just about everything you do or would do. :/ Although I do still feel sympathy for indie developers who are trying to do their best on shoestring budgets.

*sigh* That's life.

Re:Good. Now what about ads? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47486075)

I don't want it all for free, but I think companies should be honest about their business model. I think they should distinguish between "Free" trial, "Free" with paid upgrades, "Free" ad-supported, etc.

Perhaps we should instead differentiate the levels of ignorance consumers have instead. It'll help pick out the idiots who think "free" means free from the morons who think "free" means free.

Sorry, but unless you're running a charity or a business hell-bent on going out of business, NO model equates to truly free. You will be tracked. Your data will be sold. This has nothing to do with in-app purchases.

As I said, levels of ignorance.

Re:Good. Now what about ads? (2)

dk20 (914954) | about 4 months ago | (#47486825)

So, using the post right above yours...

https://www.libreoffice.org/ [libreoffice.org]
http://www.linuxmint.com/ [linuxmint.com]
http://www.gimp.org/ [gimp.org]


how are any of these quality apps tracking, selling my data or any of the other nonsense you posted?

They say they are "free" and they don't beg for money every time you use them.
They do have a donate page on them, but you are free click "not now" and contniue to download it.
How hard is it to post something that is not free as "freemium" or "in app purchases" instead of free?

"As I said, levels of ignorance."

What does this even mean? people are ignorant when "free" games beg for money and this is not 'false advertising'?

Re:Good. Now what about ads? (2)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about 4 months ago | (#47486147)

I don't want it all for free, but I think companies should be honest about their business model. I think they should distinguish between "Free" trial, "Free" with paid upgrades, "Free" ad-supported, etc.

Agreed. I'm very happy to pay for a good app. In fact, contrary to the stupid current pricing model, I'm willing to pay WELL for a *great* app. If an app does what I want, has a good featureset, and is stable, I'd gladly drop $10 or $20 or perhaps even more on it.

But I'll only pay for something like that if I'm guaranteed not to have a bunch of crap like ads or nag features or whatever. I'd rather pay well for a handful of great apps that work well than a boatload of free crap.

So, I don't just want these labels on "Free" apps -- I want them on ALL apps. If you gave me a choice to (1) spend $2 for a decent app that spills ads all over my screen and nags me to upgrade or buy some related app every other day, or (2) spend $10 for an app with fewer features but also without all the ads and other crap, I'll spend the $10.

As it is now, I can never tell whether it's worth it to try downloading other "free" apps or to spend the extra money for a paid version or for a more expensive app, because I might still end up with all this junk.

This is particularly true for kids apps. I don't EVER want a kids app with in-app purchases. EVER. EVER. EVER. There are lots of great free (or very cheap) kids apps out there, but there's no way to know what to expect until you download the thing. And even then, you might use the thing for a few days or a week before suddenly seeing some pop-up ad to buy something.

There's NO need for that other than greedy app makers who want to trick kids into buying things or adults who haven't figured out how to lock-down the device.

If your app is so darn good that you think I might want to buy other stuff you made, put a link on the homescreen that says, "If you like this... more titles" or whatever. I'll find it, if I like it that much, and I have in the past.

Otherwise -- app makers out there -- realize that I'm a parent who will pay for quality. I'm not just looking for the best thing I can get for $1. I'll pay you $5 or $10 or maybe even $20 or more if you can make something good that won't throw up some stupid crap to confuse a kid and potentially sucker people into buying stuff they didn't intend to. And I've talked to a lot of other parents who would like the same thing.

Re:Good. Now what about ads? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47486929)

I don't want it all for free, but I think companies should be honest about their business model. I think they should distinguish between "Free" trial, "Free" with paid upgrades, "Free" ad-supported, etc.

Yeah, maybe that could mark them somehow. Like

    ÃoeFreeà = completely free

    ÃoeFree + In-app Purchaseà = free with in-app purchase

    Ãoe$0.99Ã = 99 cent.

Someone should get on that.

Re:Good. Now what about ads? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47485659)

Why stop there? Why not demand free housing, free food, free electricity, free water?

I'm sure you wouldn't mind if someone stopped by to freely partake in the goods and services in your control. After all, everything should be free, Free, FREE!

Re:Good. Now what about ads? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47486835)

People think that if something is "free" that it is free...Imagine that..

When you go to the store and something says it is $1 do you expect to pay more then that at the cash? I mean i can say it is $1 but it has in-app purchases bringing it to $7,

Re:Good. Now what about ads? (1)

danbob999 (2490674) | about 4 months ago | (#47485803)

I understand some people are honestly trying to make money by selling quality software. But others write a crappy application that they wouldn't even use themselves, put ads in it, and then hope that some people will be stupid enough to keep it for a few days on their phone and then make a few cents with advertisement. At least if those applications were in an "ad-supported" category, we could filter them out.

Re:Good. Now what about ads? (1)

steelfood (895457) | about 4 months ago | (#47485891)

Well yeah, they'll just collect all your phone's data and sell it to other companies instead.

I'll take an ad-encumbered game or an in-app purchase game that doesn't collect my info over one that has none of these but does. Of course, the ad-encumbered and in-app purchase required apps probably still collect my phone data for sale anyway.

Re:Good. Now what about ads? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47485555)

We should be able to filter out adware applications too. I don't understand how people tolerate adware and nag screens on their cellphone. I thought the days of the infamous WinZIP "I agree" were over. I certainly wouldn't use a file browser, instant messaging client or or text editor on my PC with ads. I don't see why it would be anymore acceptable on phones.

Hmmm...perhaps the main reason people "tolerate" this is because they have zero room to complain when the app is "free". When people actually come off their wallet, then they might feel they have a voice.

Kind of goes along the line of bitching about the (free) cold beer you were handed by your neighbor.

And it's funny how you claim to take this hard line regarding your refusal to use programs with ads, and yet the internet is nothing but one large billboard. Pretty sure you use the internet..

Re:Good. Now what about ads? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47485617)

Because Android. That's the whole deal. If you don't want ads, don't use a Google operating system.

Re:Good. Now what about ads? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47486839)

you prefer iAd? http://advertising.apple.com/ [apple.com]

Re:Good. Now what about ads? (1)

Sechr Nibw (1278786) | about 4 months ago | (#47485869)

I see what you're saying, but I very much like when there is a free, ad-supported version of a program, that I can try-before-I-buy, with the author either releasing a "pro" version or some such, that is $1-2, ad-free, or an in-app purchase to remove ads. However, if he made the second type of program, it would likely be grouped together with the freemium games that require daily purchases of $1 buckets of water to make your crops grow, etc. That's the problem I see with the EC ruling.

Re:Good. Now what about ads? (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 4 months ago | (#47486115)

We should be able to filter out adware applications too.

Sure, but under what justification? If you download an adware app, you're not out anything. You can delete it. You can duct tape over the add portion of your screen. Unless it's "adware with IAP", which would place it in the non-free category, it's factually free in every practical sense.

I find adware annoying and I steer clear of it, but I can't imagine a reason to label it as non-free when it costs me no money to download or use it.

Good. Now what about ads? (1)

Arnold Jose Sandoval (3754279) | about 4 months ago | (#47486163)

I am a developer and I say why should I not get paid for my work. I do all of my own coding, where my fiance dioes the art. I know that my time will be paid out nicely once I get my app in the store and people download it. I usually put two versions of my app up, a pay version with no ads and a free version with ads. Now if you like the free version fork up the dollar and pay for the no ad app. But if you want to continue using the free version don't comlain when an ad comes up while you are using it. This my way of getting paid a fraction of a fraction of what it cost me to make the application.

Operant conditioning - just like gambling (4, Interesting)

sinij (911942) | about 4 months ago | (#47485261)

These "free" games use the same addiction mechanisms, called operant conditioning, as gambling. I am surprised targeting these at minors is even allowed.

Re:Operant conditioning - just like gambling (1)

geekmux (1040042) | about 4 months ago | (#47486125)

These "free" games use the same addiction mechanisms, called operant conditioning, as gambling. I am surprised targeting these at minors is even allowed.

As legal gambling spreads across the country, you're really questioning this?

You don't exactly have to drive to the middle of the desert to gain a horrible addiction anymore.

Re:Operant conditioning - just like gambling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47486329)

You don't exactly have to drive to the middle of the desert to gain a horrible addiction anymore.

News flash, you never did. There are always plenty of unscrupulous people looking to take a gambler's money, when gambling is illegal then the black market will fill that need.

Which ends up being much worse, as there is no Gaming Commission keeping an eye on underground casinos and bookies. This opens up the door for all kinds of extremely predatory behavior that the legal gambling industry could never get away with.

Legal well-regulated gambling is definitely the lesser evil.

Re:Operant conditioning - just like gambling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47487239)

You don't exactly have to drive to the middle of the desert to gain a horrible addiction anymore.

News flash, you never did. There are always plenty of unscrupulous people looking to take a gambler's money, when gambling is illegal then the black market will fill that need.

Which ends up being much worse, as there is no Gaming Commission keeping an eye on underground casinos and bookies. This opens up the door for all kinds of extremely predatory behavior that the legal gambling industry could never get away with.

Legal well-regulated gambling is definitely the lesser evil.

And Big Pharma has created an opium den right smack dab in the middle of the United States in the form of legalized pain killers.

In other words, tell me something I don't know...illegal addiction has been around for centuries. It's only been in recent times that it's become legal at the highest levels.

Freemium vs DLC (3, Interesting)

santiago (42242) | about 4 months ago | (#47485323)

What I wish app stores made it easier to do is to distinguish between apps that offer one-time DLC in the form additional content (e.g. more levels, maps, factions, game modes, etc.) vs freemium apps with repeatable purchases for in-game currency and power-ups (which you need to get around the "free" game's increasing difficulty and enforced waits). The former is fine, and a good way to let people try-before-they-buy, but the latter is a toxic plague of money-grubbing crapware. As-is, I have to do things like drill down into the list of top in-app purchases and read the titles to see if consists of things like "level pack" or "10,000 gems". I'd also love it if they showed what percentage of users buy which in-app purchases, or the median amount of money spent per user on in-app purchases.

Re:Freemium vs DLC (1)

canadiannomad (1745008) | about 4 months ago | (#47485395)

Those would be a great metrics, average $ spent over total usage, and average $ per hour usage, and % of screen per minute that is occupied by advertising.

Re:Freemium vs DLC (1)

Cinder6 (894572) | about 4 months ago | (#47485493)

I think we would both become depressed if we saw how much money people waste on Candy Crush Saga, Dungeon Keeper, Clash of Clans, etc....

Re:Freemium vs DLC (1)

Sechr Nibw (1278786) | about 4 months ago | (#47485879)

At the very least they should show if the in-app purchasables are something that you can buy just once, or repeatedly. That would be a good indicator of actual upgrade vs paid consumables. I have no problem with free, ad-supported apps that have a $1-2 "remove ads" in-app purchase. If it is a quality app, then I have no qualms about supporting it either with the ad views, or by paying to remove ads.

Re:Freemium vs DLC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47486447)

I think being labeled as "ad-supported" should also include the implied in-app purchase-option of the full app. but if any other in-app purchaces are available, then it would need some lable/tag for that in adtition (imho)

Re:Freemium vs DLC (1)

ilparatzo (3627897) | about 4 months ago | (#47485921)

These tend to be pretty easy to detect though at least. I like the app stores that show you the most frequently purchased in-app items. You'll quickly see the in-app "currency" and know that it exists, versus the one time purchases (or in some cases, both).

I've come to rely on the fact that just about everything on the "Free" list has in-app purchases, most likely to move along in the game. It just turns into determining if they are 100% required, or just make things easier.

Re:Freemium vs DLC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47486089)

Thing is games like Plants vs Zombies 2 are 'Freemium' and yet it is entirely playable without giving them one red cent (which I actually wouldn't be against doing, except that it is my wife's tablet and she doesn't want CC info on it, so no pay apps at all).

Re:Freemium vs DLC (1)

ljw1004 (764174) | about 4 months ago | (#47486229)

I seem to recall reading something like 1% of customers generating 98% of the in-app purchases, as a general trend across the industry. Can't remember where I read it though.

Re:Freemium vs DLC (1)

BronsCon (927697) | about 4 months ago | (#47486787)

I've seen apps sell an additional app to unlock features like this, rather than a simple in-app purchase. AutoGuard is an example of this (and worth the $5 if you have a dash mount for your phone), and the way they implemented it works quite well; the features literally don't exist in the main app, which attempts to launch the upgrade app in the background and lets you know you can upgrade if the app is not found.

Game DLC could be handled the same way, with the DLC app unpacking content onto the filesystem when called on by the main app, which would remove the content when it was done with it (thereby freeing up space on your device by allowing the DLC to remain packed in, say, a gzipped tarball when not in use). And it wouldn't, technically, ne an in-app purchase, so it would skirt this new initiative.

I have a Bitcoin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47485397)

stuck in my rectum.

Re:I have a Bitcoin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47485459)

Delicious bitcoin faucet!!

Really people? (2)

tom229 (1640685) | about 4 months ago | (#47485399)

Nothing is free. If Google has to explain that to you, you might have a hard time with the rest of your life.

Re:Really people? (1)

Piata (927858) | about 4 months ago | (#47485513)

You don't feel it's false advertising to say something is free when it's not? If people feel genuinely tricked by these revenue methods than it's worth addressing. It's akin to telemarketers calling and saying you won a free trip to the Bahamas; all you need to do is provide your credit card number and a $200 deposit.

Re:Really people? (4, Insightful)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | about 4 months ago | (#47485553)

You're right: absolutely nothing is free. Except Linux and Chrome and Internet Explorer and Java and TCP and pictures of the Alps and FreeCiv and Libre Office and Wikipedia and the RepRap design and CERN data and the open hardware repository and NIH publications and water filter designs and Acura NSX blueprints and clothing patterns and Project Gutenberg and the Internet Archive and don't even think about saying they're "not really free". In all cases we're talking about voluntary contributions of work. Games are as digital as all of these others and claiming no game is free in that context is total bullshit.

Re:Really people? (4, Informative)

steelfood (895457) | about 4 months ago | (#47485947)

Uh, no. Those aren't free. They're free for you the end user. But somebody pays for them. Just because it's not you doesn't make it automatically free.

In most cases, those people are called donors. Donors can be someone unaffilliated with the organization, or they could be the very same people providing the service. Likewise, donations can come in numerous forms like time, resources, goodwill, even money.

Sometimes, society pays, i.e. everybody pays. And when everybody pays so that only a few people benefit, that's when there are problems. Fortunately, none of those on your list fall into that category.

So no, those things you listed aren't free. To claim that they are free is to ignore the people who've paid for them so that they can be free for you.

Re:Really people? (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | about 4 months ago | (#47486499)

Irrelevant, and bullshit.

Bullshit, because it is free as in speech. Maybe not gratis as in beer.
Irrelevant, because if a donor makes it gratis for everybody it is still gratis.

Re:Really people? (4, Insightful)

DRJlaw (946416) | about 4 months ago | (#47486673)

They're free for you the end user.

So you agree that they're free in the sense that everyone in the discussion has been using the word "free."

So no, those things you listed aren't free.

I'm confused. You admitted that they're free "for you." Who has been arguing that they are costless for all? Who has defined "free" as costless for all? How do you reconcile costless for all with "free for you?"

Actually, I'm not confused at all. You've constructed a pseudo-syllogism using a false proposition in an attempt to belittle the GP while making yourself feel authoritative and smart.

Free doesn't mean what you think it means [cornell.edu] . You're not even a pedant, you're simply wrong. Go away.

Re:Really people? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47485577)

Lucky you to have been born with all this knowledge. The rest of us have to learn it as we live. And we only get one go-around at it but corporations can hone their dubious skills for generations. Still think there shouldn't be any laws regarding false advertising?

Nothing is free (5, Insightful)

phorm (591458) | about 4 months ago | (#47485615)

In terms of monentary cost, many useful things are. Free software also used to be less of a crapshoot (is it *really* safe, a virus/trojan, adware, or nagware)?

Apache: Free
OpenOffice/LibreOffice: Free
Java: Free

There were/are also a lot of free utilities that - while not pretty - were basically in the realm of "hey I made this to solve X for myself and thought somebody else might find it useful."

There may be some learning involved to *use* the product, and certainly many FOSS solutions involve community-provided updates, but in terms of personal cost it's free for me.

Re:Really people? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47486529)

This is a european thing. you do not (seem to) understand how we in europe see the cooporate america as something we do not want. so instead of our society adjusting to fit business, we legislate to make business' adjust to socieity - we do not put coorporate profit over our wellbeing/safety - including letting them label non-free things as free (if nothing is free, nothing should get the label). Its a different mindset and based on a different ideology (which you can agree or disagree with, but that is where it comes from) than america.

(that is the theory, in reality we are just as screwed by now as america)

Worse yet.. (3, Insightful)

GrBear (63712) | about 4 months ago | (#47485653)

Worse yet are PAID apps that have in-app purchases. Companies double-dipping piss me off to no end. Either make your app free with in-app purchases, or sell it to me without extra charges later.

commeny (-1, Offtopic)

totyakokeya (3754297) | about 4 months ago | (#47485779)

$97/hr pavivdv by Google, I am making a good salary from home $5500-$7000/week , which is amazing, under a year ago I was jobless in a horrible economy. I thank God every day I was blessed with these instructions and now it's my duty to pay it forward and share it with Everyone, Here is I started,,, >>>>>>>>> WWW.PAYRAP.cm

Nanny, dont need. (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 4 months ago | (#47486007)

If you are too stupid to figure out that 'buy' = $ then perhaps you are too stupid to have a digital device in the first place.

What is next, a disclaimer at the car dealer "you have to buy gas and tires.. " so they cant be sued?

Re:Nanny, dont need. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47486871)

Really? people are stupid because they didnt realise freefree? and how about "fremium" games targeting kids? Kids who cant read should know "buy=$"

What about demoware/trialware? (1)

gelfling (6534) | about 4 months ago | (#47486033)

Google play has scads of 'free apps' that are either severely crippled or time limited. Moreover, is it a 'free' app when there's popups telling you to 'remove advertising' eg. buy the "pro" version?

Re:What about demoware/trialware? (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | about 4 months ago | (#47487501)

For crippled or time limited apps, we have a term that applies for that: demo. That moniker should be required, because simply calling it a free app is completely disingenuous.

If the free app is only ad-supported, I think it should still qualify as "free". After all, broadcast TV, radio, and the internet is largely ad-supported, and we talk about that being "free" as well. However, I think apps should be required to indicate whether they are ad supported or not, or whether they offer purchase of a "premium" version.

Maybe Free/Ad-supported instead of just Free? That would really let people distinguish between the truly free apps and the ones that are trying to earn advertising revenue.

Exposed Stats? (1)

Voyager529 (1363959) | about 4 months ago | (#47486065)

See. what I thought would be a useful stat to show would be "the average amount that those who spend, spend". In other words, if Google showed how much was spent on a given "freemium" app by those who spent >$0. This would give users a meaningful metric with which to decide whether it's worth it to attempt to use the app, because they could, on average, expect to spend that amount. If an app has a spending average of precisely $4.99, and the pro version costs $4.99, then it's fair to assume that users only pay for the 'pro' key within the app, and it won't nickel-and-dime all day. If $25 is the going rate, it's clear that the game is a skinner box and isn't worth it.

Of course, the bleeding obvious issue is that developers wouldn't be too fond of that number getting too high, which people would be less inclined to do once they have the feeling of going 'above average'.

I have a solution for the free apps. (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about 4 months ago | (#47486225)

It's called rooting and replacing the hosts file with a adblocking hosts file. OMG is android so much nicer after you do that.

Re:I have a solution for the free apps. (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about 4 months ago | (#47487149)

Google's onto that. It doesn't work in KitKat on the Nexus 5, for example.

Re:I have a solution for the free apps. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47487499)

Did someone say hosts?

APK

"Free to Play" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47486747)

That's because most games are called "Free to Play" , not "Free" endstop.

The sooner people understand that, the better. The way Apple software is listed ,is that it's "free" to purchase, but everything listed tends to say "in-app purchases" and even lists what those are.

Android, tends to be full of malware, and even then, crappier games that don't label things, and then make things stupidly easy to accidentally buy things.

What should happen, is that "free-to-play" games should literately be illegal to be labeled as "free"

OUYA to Stop Requring all Games be Free (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47487017)

n/t

Post the average price including in-app purchases (2)

Visarga (1071662) | about 4 months ago | (#47487157)

Maybe they should print the average or median price for the app, including the in-app purchases. That would be more fair. "People using this app have made 3.55$ in app purchases, in average"

call it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47487693)

So what do you call a game you can play without spending money? Since you can't use free.....mmmm..... "Buy this game for 0.00!". Got to love lawsuits based on the customer being stupid.

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