Freemium Apps (and Apple, Google, Amazon, Gameloft) Come Under Fire

Fed up of so-called Freemium apps where you are free to download but have to make In-App Purchases (IAP) to actually use the app (usually games)?

Apparently there are many of you out there complaining about this.

Now, mind you, with some of these games, you can actually play quite a bit before being required to shell out money to play further or to have an enhanced playing experience. They give you a feel for the game and whether you really like it or not. If you were then required to shell out, say $2.94 to buy the full version, no one would really complain. But paying $0.99 for an extra game character gets expensive real quick and you could end up paying in excess of $5/$10 for a game, a price you would never agree to in the first place. Parents who downloaded these Freemium games did not realize their children could so easily buy extra characters at the cost of $0.99 a character. It adds up real fast.

In fact, Apple settled a lawsuit earlier this year to reimburse parents whose kids spent insane amounts of money on in-app purchases.

But that is not what the investigation is about this time.

Now, Italian antitrust authorities have Apple, Google, Amazon and Gameloft in their direct fire sight; they are investigating alleged misleading advertisements claiming the mobile game apps are free when they actually require in-app purchases in order to be played beyond a certain point.

Case in point, I downloaded Microsoft Office Cloud apps (and other office productivity apps) and was under the impression they were free. Imagine my surprise to find out they are not (and I had wasted my time). Should other companies, like Microsoft, be also included in the investigation?

So, do you think Freemium apps (whether games, productivity, office, photo) should be listed alongside (really) free apps in the App Store? Or, are they misleading consumers?

via Cult of Mac