Will You Pay More for Games with Apple's Newest iPhone Feature?

Apple is finally taking a page from the successes of "freemium" games by offering a new feature called "In App Purchase" that lets users play a game for free and expand on the experience by purchasing in-game accessories, levels and other enhancements. The arrival of the new feature isn't a new one, just yesterday a report on virtual goods claims that social networked games may make up to $300 million of the expected $1 billion in profit that analysts expect to see from the virtual goods industry in 2009.

The move, already embraced by several gaming developers including Social Gaming Network (makers F.A.S.T. and Agency Wars) and ngmoco (makers of Rolando and Topple), may eliminate iPhone's lite (demo) game offerings, replaced by free to play games but offer new experiences for a price.

This morning, we downloaded ngmoco's new In App Purchase enabled game, Rolando 2: the Quest for the Golden Orchid – Chapter 1 to find out why companies are so ready to hop on the bandwagon. The complete game, which includes six chapters of innovative puzzles and storytelling sells for $4.99, and as with many of the company's games, it's worth every cent. If a user downloads the light version, Rolando 2: the Quest for the Golden Orchid – Chapter 1, they'll receive chapter 1 for free but pay a three cents less for the entire game ($4.96) by downloading chapters individually.

Granted, other game makers may choose (and by "may," we mean "will") to produce games that will cost gamers more in the long run. So if you got a new fuzzy bear game that offered eight levels of fuzzy fun for $4.99, the developer could ask for $0.99 per level, which would cost a player $7.92. Ouch.

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