If you own an Google-powered smartphone, you’ll know the miserable drill by now. You spy a good looking app offering itself up for free download on the Android Market. It seems too well designed to be true although, these kind of scenarios always end in a pleasant surprise right?
So on you delve into what looks likely to be your new favourite Android app but just as you’re been hooked on level five one of two scenarios will occur.
You’ll either be greeted with a message stating, ‘Thanks for downloading Super Medieval Platformer, to play the rest of the game (or at least until we decide to charge you again) please pay £3.99′.
The even more infuriating occurrence is when your gameplay experience grinds to an impossible halt because you don’t own a key tool, be this a suit out of armour that’s not made out of balsa wood or a bank account bulging with gold keys.
The demo leading into a single payment scenario can sometimes be sneakily done but is broadly acceptable, who doesn’t like to try before they buy? This is where our tolerance for freemium comes to an abrupt end however, since every app we’ve played with a repeat payments system has come off as a merciless attempt to charge players over and beyond the value of the game itself.
The main offenders we’ve stumbled across across in recent weeks have been Wind-up Knight and Blood & Glory but there’s no shortage of blatant cashgrabs up for sale on the Android Market. What’s most annoying about freemium apps, other than their continuing existence, is how they’re discouraging new developers from entering the Google smartphone arena.
It’s often stated the number of free app downloads for Android heavily outweigh those users who choose to pay for quality. In comparison, Apple’s App Store is full of iPhone owners happy to shell out £0.69 if the spend seems justified.
According to recent statistics from Distimo, Apple’s App Store has 211,369 paid apps while Android Market has just 71,801. More shockingly, the percentage of all free Android apps that have been downloaded less than 100 times is 24.8 per cent, while the percentage of paid apps that have been downloaded less than 100 times worldwide is a humungous 79.3 per cent.
Clearly freemium apps heavily contribute to this trend by holding back their eventual charge until the last possible minute and giving the impression of a free game. While displaying a fundamental lack of confidence from developers in their products, it also shows a distrust in Android users to pay for quality when they recognise it.
The ultimate effect of such marketing strategies is to deprive Android owners of the latest and greatest apps because new developers don’t think they’ll make enough money off their creations. This is a sad and vicious cycle that’s only being perpetuated by the admittedly thriving freemium business model, which in itself is a huge indicator that the Android Market is an arena where money can be made and gamers will be satisfied with their downloads.
For the Android Market to blossom fully in the same way Apple’s App Store has, a great deal more faith needs to be placed in its consumers and right now, that’s just not happening.