Apple coins it in with 'free' Apps

Since allowing in-app purchases just over a year ago, Apple has been raking in the cash from unwitting punters hooked on so-called 'free' games.

A report on GigaOm reveals that the get-it-free-now-pay-through-the-nose-later model pioneered by highly addictive games like Farmville and Tap Zoo make up more than 30 per cent of the top-grossing Apps on the Apple's iToys. The report even goes so far as to suggest that Apple now makes as much as a third of its App Store revenue from in-game transactions.

Most of these games allow you to play the first few levels of a game without opening your wallet, but impose time restrictions or make some achievements impossible without coughing up some cold, hard cash.

Although most will tell you that all in-game items can be acquired through normal free pay, the time you'll have to invest, which can run into weeks, if not months of tedious 'grinding' as it is known in gaming circles, prompts many to take the path of least resistance, which involves making in-game micro-payments.

Purchasing in-game coins, in the case of Farmville, allows players to speed up crop production by quickly buying machinery and other items which could otherwise take an age to earn.

One US teen swiped his mum's credit card details and clocked up a £900 bill playing the popular farm-it-up, and we're willing to bet he's not the only one using nefarious means to feed his gaming habit.

So it looks like Freemium Apps are the new heroin. You can have your first taste for free but, from then on in, it's going to cost. A lot.

Publice Service Announcement If you have been affected by the article you have just read, and think you may have a problem with App Addiction, you should read Unigamesty's Top 25 Signs You're Addicted to Farmville.