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 IPHONE FEATURE

Top 10 most expensive in-app purchases on iOS and Android

From a $20 statue to a $600 gun
 
Top 10 iPhone charts iPhone, thumbnail 1
In-app purchases used to be called 'micro-transactions'. That's because you only ever needed to shell out pocket-money levels of currency for them. A few quid here. A dollar there.

But the following ten items take the word 'micro' and stamp on it, stab it to death, and urinate on its mangled corpse.

These are virtual guns, cars, decorations, and ponies that require enormous amounts of premium currency (the rare-as-hen's-teeth cash that you can only get in vast quantities through in-app purchases).

Seen an über-expensive sword or spaceship on your iOS or Android travels that's missing from our list? Drop the name in the comments box below and we'll investigate.

A suit of Samurai Armour - £10.49 / $14.99 (The Sims FreePlay)

The Sims FreePlay

Once upon a time, you could deck out your Sim's gaff with the finest furniture just by typing in a cheat code (Control + Shift + C, then type in "rosebud").

Now, going all Anna Ryder Richardson on your fake house costs cash. Serious cash. The most expensive item in this F2P sim is a Samurai armour decoration, which will set you back £10.49 in Lifestyle Points.

Barney's Bowlarama - £13.99 / $19.99 (The Simpsons: Tapped Out)

The Simpsons Tapped Out

When Homer destroys Springfield in a nuclear explosion, you can fix most of your mess through hard work and endless patience alone. But you can only buy some buildings back with donuts, the game's premium currency.

Barney's bowling joint is (inexplicably) the most pricey premium building in the game, at 300 donuts. Other paid-for upgrades include Santa's Little Helper, a cinderblock tetherball, and Hank Scorpio's volcano hideout.

Blackbeard's Ship - £27.99 / $39.99 (Playmobil Pirates)

Playmobil Pirates

In Gameloft's friendly free-to-play children's game, you get lumbered with a ramshackle tin boat of a ship for much of the game.

But what's that in the shipyard? Blackbeard's mighty vessel? And it only costs 5,200 gems? MUM!!!

This is exactly the sort of thing that has piqued the interest of The Office of Fair Trading, and hastened an investigation into the practice of advertising in-app purchases to kids.

Still, it's cheaper than the real-world playset, which costs about £55. So, there's that, I guess.

The Gravedigger Sniper Rifle - £34.99 $49.99 (Frontline Commando)

Frontline Commando

Get ready to see a lot of Glu Mobile farther down this list. The Californian company has turned price gouging into an art form and has absolutely no reservations about charging double digits for guns, swords, and equipment.

We start with this sniper rifle, which has perfect accuracy, an infinitely large clip of rounds, and deals enormous damage with every bullet. Yours... for just £34.99 worth of Gold.

It's worth noting D-Day here, too. This is Glu's distasteful WW2 reskin of Commando, with its own share of expensive premium guns. You'll mow down Axis troops like cannon fodder with the £23.99 Maschinengewehr machine gun.

Princess Luna's Royal Guard - £41.98 / $59.98 (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic)

My Little Pony

Here's another Gameloft game that's counting on pester power to compel parents to wearily open their wallets in defeat. This My Little Pony city builder has an 800-gem horse, which requires about £42 in IAPs to be unlocked.

This particular pony doesn't appear to have a direct physical toy analogue, though the average pint-sized horse only costs around £20 in the real world.

Gameloft has already had to drop the price of some ponies in response to fan outrage. It was a smart move - you never want to be on the receiving end of Brony outrage. Trust us.

A Nanotech Sniper Rifle - £69.99 / $99.99 (Contract Killer)

Contract Killer

Back to Glu now, with a game about murdering people in broad daylight with an arsenal of scoped weapons.

The most expensive is the £69.99 Nanotech, a sniper rifle with perfect accuracy and range. What it lacks in damage and fire rate, it makes up for in other departments. Like being able to hold an infinite number of bullets in one clip.

Its zombie spin-off is a little less stiff in terms of prices. That game's most expensive gun - the four-barrel rocket-launching Reaper - is comparatively cheap at £34.99, you see.

The MIL–3000 Assault Rifle - £69.99 / $99.99 (Deer Hunter: Reloaded)

Deer Hunter

Murdering a defenceless woodland animal with a high-powered bolt action rifle is a bit boring, isn't it?

Wouldn't it be more fun to reduce those majestic creatures to bloodied chunks with a military assault rifle last seen in some big-budget console game?

Of course it wouldn't, you massive psychopath.

A Koenigsegg Agera R - £69.99 / $99.99 (Real Racing 3)

Real Racing 3

Few games have fired up the Pocket Gamer community quite like EA's free-to-play pit stop simulator Real Racing 3. And few articles from this game's launch got your attention like our report on the $100 supercar.

Yep, you need to accrue 800 gold coins to unlock this speedy little sports car. That means either months' worth of repetitive grinding or a quick £69.99 in-app purchase.

Still, it's cheaper than the real deal. This Guinness World Records-shattering speedster has a $2 million price tag in the meatspace.

The General's Spear - £69.99 / $99.99 (Eternal Warriors II)

Eternity Warriors II

More Glu price gouging now...

This free-to-play hack 'n' slasher 'boasts' a huge collection of premium weapons, including battle axes, swords, staffs, and this 5,200-gem spear.

Death Dome, another mindless hack 'n' slasher from Glu, also has a £69.99 item (the 9,999 power-level sword, the Flaymore).

But none of these weapons can hold a candle to this next one…

The Apathy Bear Gun - £419.94 / $599.94 (Gun Bros)

Gun Bros

And finally. Glu has really outdone itself here. It's the granddaddy of ludicrous in-app purchases. A virtual gun that's so expensive you could buy a new iPad for less money.

Meet Apathy Bear, a tattered teddy on the end of a machine gun which does 4,000 damage per hit, fires 300 rounds per minute, and doesn't impact your speed at all.

This gun costs 3,999 War Bucks, and you'd need to buy the biggest £69.99 pack of premium currency in the shop six times over to cover the cost. All in all, you'll have to fork out about £419.94 to put this in your arsenal.

If you're a warmonger on a budget, though, the lower-powered Kraken is a 'steal' at just 3,499 War Bucks (or £349.95, in five lots of in-app purchases).
 

Reviewer photo
Mark Brown 16 April 2013
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Joined:
Aug 2013
Post count:
1
Phil Rozzi | 22:16 - 20 August 2013
This one loser named Macauley Holmes who is on my megapolis app buys every building you need for your city using real money instead of waiting to get the in app currency by doing tasks. He is only in middle school and considering "megabucks" in the game cost about a few hundreds actual dollars for the amount he bought I'm pretty sure his parents aren't shelling out that kind of cash for an app so I'm not sure where such retards get so much money to spend in apps.
Joined:
Nov 2006
Post count:
202
Mandark | 00:58 - 30 April 2013
The way prices are going up, it won't be long before you can get a free smartphone or tablet with your mega in-app purchase!!
Joined:
Apr 2013
Post count:
3
@Optimaximal | 22:42 - 21 April 2013
I don't know if they've fixed it, but there used to be a bug in Gun Bros where you could game the 'watch these videos' section to accrue War Bucks about 100 at a time until the server realised and said 'come back later'. Took a while to do (and was mind-numbing when CoD Zombies was the promo) but it earned me that Gundam armour and one of the bigger guns!
Joined:
Apr 2013
Post count:
11
@GameWhizzes | 18:16 - 20 April 2013
I was actually fed up with this, so I made Fangz ( a link for a review on a competitor's site: http://toucharcade.com/2013/04/17/out-now-fangz-is-a-cool-beat-em-up-that-trades-in-zombies-for-vampires/ ).

Here I exploit all human psychological weaknesses, but just to get you addicted to the game for the sake of "the flow" (look it up if you don't know what I'm talking about).

Right now I think I'm being paid well enough for my effort of developing Fangz, but the game is getting so pirated that I certainly understand why freemium apps are all the rage.

Heck, piracy is taking such a toll on me that I'm even considering making my next games free.

So, in the end, I believe freemium appeared both as a mix of greed and a necessity for a viable business model when piracy is rampant.
Joined:
Apr 2013
Post count:
1
@hjdoom | 18:02 - 20 April 2013
Instead of creating games the current fad seems to be to exploit human psychological weaknesses. This is the game designer re-invented as a dealer. The first hit is free but you pay for everything else. Easy for those of us without a psychological predisposition to addiction to scoff but the people spending the big bucks, the whales, are effectively being exploited using something over which they have, at best, limited control.

We control children's access to gambling, alcohol, cigarettes and even illegal drugs are usually subject to an informal social pressure to keep them out of the hands of children. The freemium designers are basically competing with fast food sellers to recruit people with addictive personalities to the particular 'high' they are pushing. If you get them young you can condition them to respond to your product and enjoy a lifetime of easy sales to someone who has become dependent.

I'm not saying that freemium games shouldn't exist but they should be regulated and proper scientific studies need to examine the pay/reward relationships and how they affect the brain.
Joined:
Oct 2012
Post count:
216
@arosbooks | 14:32 - 18 April 2013
People commenting on "gaming" when they should be saying "mobile gaming"

If you care about gaming buy a Vita - games have IAP removed to be released there!
Joined:
Oct 2012
Post count:
216
@arosbooks | 14:30 - 18 April 2013
IAPs the cost of 4 full console games where you get everything included. Hmm.
Joined:
Apr 2012
Post count:
11
Northlander74 | 09:23 - 17 April 2013
The death knell of mobile gaming as we know it...let's hope the Office of Fair Trading hammers this kind of pricing!

There's no way I'd pay for a virtual item that's the same price as a full PS3 game!
Joined:
Apr 2013
Post count:
1
@Dykie_ | 23:29 - 16 April 2013
Blooms towers defence 5 mountain o'money is £45
Joined:
Jan 2010
Post count:
439
curtisrshideler | 18:57 - 16 April 2013
"Wouldn't it be more fun to reduce those majestic creatures to bloodied chunks with a military assault rifle last seen in some big-budget console game?

Of course it wouldn't, you massive psychopath."

Hilarious! Now, that's some entertaining journalism. On topic, though, I bet those guys who make the Fantasy Manager games are doing pretty well thanks to IAP... I've actually spent a few dollars on that. I mean, come on, Chelsea can use some of my managerial help.
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