Paid vs. Free vs. Paid with IAP — What’s the Difference?

Children’s apps are monetized (sold and paid for) in many different ways this days. It is important for children to get to know how all three of these techniques work.  Here’s a quick guide with current examples:

  1. Paid means you buy the app for a fixed price, and it’s yours, with all future updates to content. There are no gimmicks. Most Toca Boca apps and Blox 3D World Creator use this option.
  2. Free means you pay nothing for the download, but there may be  some other agenda at work. It is important for children to be able to recognize why an app is “free.” Many times this is not obvious. In the case of  Roald Dahl’s Twit or MissPenguin Books, the app is designed to introduce Roald Dahl’s characters to promote related books, movies and future apps. As you can see below, the game is fun so it is easy to overlook the underlying agenda. Apps like this one are designed to be interactive advertisements for something that costs money or time down the road.
  3. Paid with IAP is a gutsy technique we’re seeing used more frequently by Disney, Hasbro and Nickelodeon. In PAW Patrol Rescue Run by Nickelodeon, you must pay $3.99 to download the app. That gives you 3 adventures; plus one that is advertised openly to the children as an option in the main menu. They have to pay an additional $1.99 to play with a new PAWs Patrol character. And obviously there’s the toy tie-in. Is this an app or a sophisticated, fun, interactive commercial?
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