Free doesn’t always mean free anymore when it comes to mobile apps – especially mobile games. And so, it looks like many developers of mobile games and apps on the Apple, Google, and Amazon devices have adopted a new type of business model called ‘Freemium’.
The word “freemium” is a combination of the words “free” and “premium” whereby the user is able to get a costly premium app for free but pay within the app for the removal of ads or to unlock extra levels or features. This has been coined ‘in-app purchasing’ and up until recently it has posed one of the biggest headaches for parents whose children have smartphones or tablets.
I can recall numerous stories in the past of people getting large credit card bills due to in-app purchasing since most people tie their account to their credit card. Because the freemium model makes it very easy, almost deceptively easy, to make many in-app purchases it is possible to run up a large bill in a small amount of time.
It can be said that problems develop when people fail to understand it is real money that is speeding up their superpowers, not their game-playing skills.
Also, to make matters a little more deceptive, most of the apps that follow this model, can be found in the FREE SECTION of their respective app stores. Free to download but never really completely free to play until you pay to unlock its features. At the moment though, if you browse the Apple app store you will at least see ‘in-app purchases’ provided under the app to let the user know that this app could have much more costs associated with it.
To start with you can make sure your child does not know the password you have associated with your app store account and so they will have to come to you to finalize the in-app purchase. If that means changing your password frequently, then so be it.
In addition, there should be an option to turn off in-app purchasing for most devices. And if that provides too much of an inconvenience, then you can look into associating your devices account with a gift card and using this as a type of allowance topping it up when needed.
In any event, there is considerable pressure being put on all of the major companies that offer devices with a freemium purchasing model and I would estimate that many more safeguards will be put in place in the not-so-distant future as part of a software update.
you can learn more about this type of purchasing model at the following website: http://www.freemium.org