The term "microtransaction" is often employed to describe virtual goods purchases because the amounts of real-world currency involved tend to be very low, often in the $1 to $3 range. Online multiplayer CCG Urban Rivals is bucking the trend in virtual goods design by offering in-game items that retail for $9.99. These pricey virtual items will be offered exclusively in the iPhone version of the game, as a way to let users obtain in-game virtual goods without having to obtain virtual currency first.
Urban Rivals is a social game that users can play on the Web, on mobile handsets, or through a paid iPhone app that will be available soon. Users will be able to access a single master account through all three platforms, similar to the implementations of Spymaster and Mobsters. Users ordinarily make progress in Urban Rivals by earning or purchasing the game's virtual currency, Clintz, which is then used to buy booster packs of virtual CCG cards.
Apple does not allow users to purchase virtual currency in iPhone apps, though users can usually spend currency purchased on another platform in an iPhone version of a given game. To make sure users on the iPhone extension of the game can buy virtual items when they wish, developer Urban Rivals implemented a special storefront in the game that used Apple's in-app transaction system. This system charges users directly in real money for whatever they buy.
Urban Rivals will charge two different price points in its special iPhone-only store, $.99 for one booster pack of three cards and $9.99 for a set of 11 booster packs. In the freemium Web version of the game, there are virtual items that retail for as much as the virtual currency equivalent of $40, so the iPhone price points aren't out of line with what players on other versions are playing. What is fascinating about Urban Rivals is the way it's created a virtual shopfront specific to one version of its multi-platform title, just to get around Apple's virtual currency restrictions.
[via Pocket Gamer]
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