Clumsy Ninja

Clumsy Ninja
26 Nov 13

Sad to say that ‘Clumsy Ninja’ has provided not a lot more than a catalyst to continue to ‘out’ an ongoing and desperate flaw in the Apple App Model.

I’m SO tired of games of the ‘in-app’ purchase business model. Its at the stage that almost ANY game which offers this at dipshit prices is certain to get a monstrous review from me. The recent Batman game that can easily toast £140 in additional purchases, or the Age 4+ Kids Burger Factory game that plays one level and then requires Mustard for the next burger at £35 (I am not kidding) or Lets Golf 3 that has a character that is so tired after a couple of shots that there is significant wait until the next opportunity unless you pay £35 for ‘pill boosts’

I’m also sick of games which offer something and deliver nothing and then hide behind the fans boys saying “Well it is Free”. No, its not and was never intended to be. Only the feeble of mind can defend what is a vastly exploited market strategy which is massively prone to abuse. Any other argument which is positively offered for this model is just plainly smoke and mirrors.

This type of game does one of two things…

1. Allows kids to buy on Parents credit cards unwittingly and there is no shortage of press on that very topic.

2. Cause untold bad feeling when parents have to say “No” to ridiculous in-app purchase prices and kids are left with minuscule amounts of gameplay and with growing frequency that too isn’t even free!

I am pig sick of the model. Its flawed, there are no redeeming features and it provides a safe harbour for unscrupulous developers to attempt to exploit what is marketed by Apple as a safe user experience. Apple must intervene and carefully police this system or the bad press of the misuse of this type of game with kids will grow ever more.

“Its up to the parents to control it” you say. No it most certainly isn’t. The device is sold as family friendly  and has a UI which is simplified to allow very young users to navigate and take part. Also, there are still a good many parents who are not au fait with the model and will only become ‘wise’ after the inevitable troubles with payment hit them.

I would hate to cast aspirations that Natural Motion are such a developer however. The game is playable and the graphics are slick for around 20-30 mins of gameplay before you run out of jewels and have to wait until tomorrow or buy more.

What Natural Motion display is what MOST developers display. A complete lack of balls.

If…you think your game is worth £21 then bloody charge that and stand by your product. Don’t give me stupid lines about ‘affordability’ and ‘options’ I’m tired of fighting with my kids over why there aren’t enough decent games that play for more than 20 mins before they are tossed to one side.

This could be a very playable and enjoyable game. I would happily part with upwards of £10 for it but I need to pay £13.99 for a ‘Cart of Gems’. Now as there is a ‘Gem Mine’ at £20.99, I’m guessing that the carts gem store is finite and that the Mine’s supply is infinite (hence my earlier £21 comment) I would be extremely disappointed however, to find out if it wasn’t.

Apple and their developers had this dead right from the start. Simple, Playable, Affordable games which have a set price with no jiggery pokery hidden charging which America is already well known for.

Devs…grow some balls and hang out a decent product at a price you think it will sell at. Apple, equally, grow some balls and control this marketplace before your good name is permanently tarnished…and it will be.

If you want an example of perfect monetary policy, the Minecraft is a shining example. A reduce game play ‘free game’ with a single user license purchase if you want the McCoy. Simple, objective and ultimately…fair

Add to that the fact that its actually a pretty slow and boring game after throwing the little character around for the 144th time and It’s not worth it. When the iTunes reviews give it 5 Stars and actually what they talk about is the fluidity of the graphics/physics and not the gameplay, that should be a hint.



Ewen Rankin



Can’t agree more. There used to be free limited versions of apps that were effectively trials and then full fat versions that you needed to pay for. Or there were the free version apps with the one-off payment for a full unlock of all features or levels. Both theses seem to be rather rare now.

As you say, if a game or app is worth it, charge what you think it is worth. Square Enix do that with their Final Fantasy games. Once you have paid for the game, that is it. No in app purchases.

You don’t buy a car and then have to pay extra every few weeks to unlock the radio/CD, or to enable you to go over 30mph. You don’t buy a Phone and pay extra to open the option of using the volume control. Silly examples but not that far away from what happens within some apps.

If you offered to work for someone and then stopped or slowed after a few hours unless they purchased a coffee for you (gives 1 hour increased performance) or 1 RedBull can (3 hours) you would soon find yourself jobless!

If an app is worth it or game so good, people will pay for it.


I just deleted Clumsy Ninja this morning after coming to the exact same conclusion, Ewen. I tried it myself to decide if I wanted to pass it on to my daughter and found it to be an adorable, well-designed app with fatally frustrating limitations due to it being “free”. I would have happily paid for a full game (even an IAP to unlock everything), but I will not ever buy an IAP of consumables that will only temporarily allow my daughter to play, before pestering me for more money or making her wait before continuing to use the app. It’s a cheap ploy and I’ve had enough.

Your number 2 point really hit home with me, as my daughter and I struggle with this quite regularly. I do watch what she plays, but there are many unscrupulous apps that put full screen ads in-app (targeted at young children) for some other adorable-looking game that’s “free” and has her begging me to download. Either I say yes and have her disappointed when the “free” baby doll/puppy/princess app is so limited as to be utterly useless without a hefty IAP, or I say no and skip directly to the disappointment. I would *much* rather pay for a quality app and avoid this scenario altogether!

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