Apps and Games

Clumsy Ninja: Too Many In-App Purchases?


Clumsy Ninja came out last year and has gained quite a following since its release.  The premise of the game is to help your “clumsy” ninja to train and become skillful enough to find his friend Kira.  You are offered different devices with which to train your ninja.  While completing training, your ninja gains experience points.  After enough points are gained, you can move on to the next level.  It seems simple enough, and the animation and physics of the game are beautifully done.  What’s not to like, right?

But after reaching levels 50 and above, players have been finding a displeasing amount of in-app purchases.  One iTunes reviewer stated, “You get a pleasant message saying that danger lies ahead in some future app update…[W]hen an update was delivered to users…the new content was another in-app-purchase.”  Another issue with the game is the “repair” time needed for training items.  After each use, items become “unavailable for a lengthy period of time, sometimes hours.”  The gems (points used as currency) you earn during training can be used to repair items, but you also need gems to buy new training items.  You have to decide whether you want to spend your gems on repairs or on new items.  You have the option to buy more gems, which is probably what the developer wants you to do, or you can get repairs by spending a few minutes watching an ad.  The problem then is you spend half your time watching ads, and who wants to do that?

The question that the developer, NaturalMotion, needs to think about is this: will the amount of in-app purchases needed to progress in Clumsy Ninja deter people from continuing to play?  Customers are getting bored with the upper levels of the game and are asking where the storyline is.  When does the ninja get to put his skills to use?  Where is Kira?  NaturalMotion needs to release an update that actually allows players to complete adventure-based tasks, or they will lose followers and, therefore, lose revenue.


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