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The most expensive iOS in-app purchases

David Price | June 24, 2013
Warn your kids (and your bank manager) about these incredibly costly IAPs in iPhone apps and games.

Money

We count down the 5 most expensive individual in-app items we've seen in iPhone apps and games.

One of the best things about iPhone & iPad apps is that they're cheap. PC owners routinely spend £15 to £30 on a single game (and console gamers are often charged £40 a time), while desktop software packages are frequently more than £20. But a £4.99 iPad or iPhone app is considered pretty expensive, and there's a huge selection of titles for a couple of quid -- or even for free.

But the dark side of this apparent generosity on the part of the software publishers is the in-app purchase, which for many apps and games is the part of the equation that makes the real money. Many games in particular operate a 'freemium' model, in which the initial download costs nothing but a host of extras (for additional characters, levels or features, or to skip tedious waiting periods built in to encourage you to crack open your wallet) cost you anywhere from 69p to a few quid or, in some unusual cases, even more.

We decided to count down the 5 most expensive individual in-app items we've seen in iPhone apps and games. Our rule was that it has to be a tangible item, feature or character, rather than simply an injection of in-game currency. For items bought with in-game currency we've tried to approximate the monetary value for comparative purposes.

5. Princess Celestia - My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (£44.33)
Did you know that a big proportion of My Little Pony fans are adult males? Surprising (they are known as Bronies), but a nice fan base to have when it comes to in-app purchases on the tie-in iOS game.

There are loads of ponies to unlock in this smartly realised freemium title - a number of them based on parody and fan-fiction characters from the Brony community - but to get the lot would take months of work. Or the injection of some cash. The costliest pony available is Princess Celestia, whose price in gems (950) translates into about £44.33.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

4. Koenigsegg Agera R - Real Racing 3 (£55.99)
Real Racing 3 was the third instalment in a noble racing series, boasting beautiful visuals and gameplay that many loved (although there was some debate over the quality of the handling). Less pleasingly, it was the first in the series to operate a freemium model, with the initial download free but most of the unlocks demanding either long-winded grinding or the purchase of 'gold' with real-world cash.

 

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