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Federico Viticci in an article from 2015: from 2015:

Apple has started promoting games that don’t have any In-App Purchases on the front page of the App Store. Currently featured in the UK App Store and likely expanding to the U.S. store later today as part of the App Store’s weekly refresh, the section is called ‘Pay Once & Play’ and it showcases “great games” that don’t require users to pay for extra content through IAPs.

That’s really nice, but hypocritical. Apple has been the one force pushing developers into using in-app purchases instead of paid upgrades for years.

Now, 5 years after the original iPhone and 4 years after the AppStore they are still stuck with their mentality of not allowing upgrade pricing apart from bundles. Using Bundles to do that is clever and it works, but it’s a hack. It’s obviously not the way that Apple envisioned it, but yes, it works.

Still, in-app purchases, especially for games are much more profitable. And we’re not taking pennies… They work really well in exploiting young people into buying gems on their parents’ money (usually without their knowledge - and here you could start wondering about how the parents allow this sort of behavior, but I would rather not venture into that territory at all). Apple seems fine with it though since none of these apps have been removed nor have prominent text or descriptions warning customers.

2019 update: Now Apple is heavily promoting subscription-based apps. I find that to be a way more viable way for developers to be able to sustain themselves as indie and survive on the AppStore. As a user I see it as problematic though. When each apps cost 1.99€ a month or more I’m only going to be subscribed to a handful of applications. I can’t justify spending 50€/month on iOS applications alone. I would rather buy an application every year for 5.99€ instead and know that it’s mine. People with higher salaries will be able to afford as many applications as before, but all others are going to be forced to cut back on their application use (or use free alternatives). This may not be bad though. A smaller user base, but deeply invested in the product and recurring revenue every month will allow developers to make quality applications like never before without having to worry about the big launch. With traditional ‘buy once’ model you need to be covered by the big press when you launch, otherwise, you lost 6 months/a year of development without turning much profit at all. Assuming your launch goes well (which is not a given nowadays) revenues are going to fall off fast. This way you are force to hoard on features to release a 2.0 version the next year so your users are forced to pay for an upgrade so you can fund further development. It is a broken system. Subscriptions solve the problem.

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Valentino Urbano



Valentino Urbano

iOS Developer, Swift, Writer, Husband

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