What if I told you that developers were going to stop making apps? If you were around when the App Store didn’t exist, the thought of an existence with nothing but stock apps is pretty scary. Try using an iPhone without any third party apps for a bit and let me know how that works out. I get frustrated when I have to wait for my apps to restore from iCloud. Apps are the lifeblood of any and all iPhones. That’s why it pains me to see a rogue group of users slowly killing the App Store, one developer at a time.
The App Store is a marketplace. Nothing is free. Some apps are free, but you often pay in the form advertising or in-app purchases. As of late, those models have become highly successful for developers. This can be loosely translated to customers finding freemium pricing to their liking. Happy customers, happy developers. That’s how it should be, but not all is right with the App Store or more specifically, customers of the App Store.
Over the past few years, there is a growing trend of lynch mob mentality amongst consumers. Instead of pitchforks and torches, they are using the review system to voice their displeasure, often over pricing or decisions to release a ‘new’ version of an app. There is a sense of entitlement that once you pay a developer, you’re entitled to upgrades for life.
The latest victim of this phenomenon are developers Ustwo, the team behind the superb Monument Valley. It’s an iTunes Editors Choice winner and upon its release, the accolades were piling up along with positive reviews in the App Store. Put simply, it’s a beautifully crafted game that most found to be well worth $3.99. At this point, the developers could have packed in and called it a day, moving on to a new game title. But people loved Monument Valley, so why not breathe new life with new levels? Surely fans of the game would love the opportunity to add new chapters at a reasonable cost?
That’s what it costs to add new chapters to a game that won the Apple Design Award in 2014. Two dollars. It’s not mandatory. If you had your fill of the game, the developer isn’t reaching into your pockets. A subset of App Store customers, one we’ve seen on many occasions, are hoping to bludgeon the ratings of this app in an attempt to affect some sort of change. Guess what, that’s exactly what they are doing. Developers are a tight knit group. These stories spread quickly and they are scary. No developer wants to wake up to a ton of 1-star reviews. What do you think will happen when the next Monument Valley comes out? I wouldn’t blame them if they cash out and move on. These chapters were magically created out of thin air. It likely took hours upon hours of development. Instead of seeing $2 for new chapters at an incredible value, the entitled masses aim to hit developers where it hurts.
The concept of adding new levels isn’t new in video games. I just bought Titanfall, which was priced at $60, now a bargain at $20. There are three expansion packs, each priced at $9.99. In what world would it be reality for me to expect to get these for free?
The story of what’s happened to Monument Valley isn’t new. This sort of shaming started with Tweetie, continued with Clear and others. This sense of entitlement and App Store justice sends a message to developers. You should work for free. It’s unfortunate, because as we continue to see these stories, there will be a trepidation on the part of developers and you can’t blame them. These individuals are killing the App Store, all for a measly $2.