‘Free’ Pokémon Go Comes With a Hefty Price for Some Users

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Pokémon Go may be free to download and play, but that's not stopping some gamers from shelling out big bucks to get ahead.

With more than 15 million downloads in one week’s time, it’s safe to say Pokémon Go is a hit. If you haven’t played the game yet, but you’re thinking about it, heed this warning: Pokémon Go is free to download and play, but it can still cost you.

Confused? Let me explain.

You can get the Pokémon Go game for free in the iTunes app store or Google Play store. But it’s the newest “freemium” game to hit the market, meaning players can opt to shell out real money for virtual goods — in this case, “PokeCoins.”

Such coins are an in-game currency that players use to purchase items to help them catch and train the 151 digital critters included in the game. The biggest PokeCoin package available costs about $100 and includes 14,500 coins.

Although most people who play a freemium game like Pokémon Go or Candy Crush don’t spend cash to get ahead in the game, a recent study from mobile marketing and research firm Swrve found that roughly 2 percent of active mobile game players make in-app purchases during a month. But those players are spending about $24.66. That can add up.

According to Quartz, mobile gamers in the U.S. who are playing Pokémon Go on iOS devices are spending $1.6 million a day on in-app purchases. Android figures were not available. Says Quartz:

Four and a half hours after its launch, Pokémon Go became the No. 1 most downloaded free app in the U.S., a record for gaming titles. Among gaming apps, it was also the fastest to become the No. 1 grossing app, hitting the milestone in 14 hours.

At this rate, industry experts estimate that Pokémon Go could rake in $1 billion a year from in-app purchases in the U.S. alone.

The newest mobile gaming craze also cost another man something worse than a few dollars — he lost his job.

Sonny Truyen, an Australian working in Singapore, was apparently upset he couldn’t play the new game because it’s not available in Singapore yet. The game has been released in a limited number of countries for now.

According to Mashable, Truyen vented his frustration in a Facebook post, which contained expletives and incendiary comments about Singapore. The post resulted in Truyen getting fired from his job after many Singaporeans complained to Truyen’s employer, 99.co, about his conduct.

What do you think about the Pokémon Go craze? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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