iBalls:Steel Lets Players Compete for Serious Cash

iBALLS:STEEL - FREE (AppStore Link)
User Reviews
2.5
iBALLS:STEEL - FREE
Developer: MiRE Software Handelsbolag
Price: free Download on the App Store
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iballs-steeliBalls:Steel — So, by now you've had some time to play around with TightWire. And you may be thinking, "Hey, I've got this accelerometer thing down!" I'm so good, I should get PAID for this. Well, ok maybe you can.

If you like accelerometer-based games or the chance to earn money, then you should rush to download iBalls: Steel from Mire Software. The app has players brushing up on their tilt control skills in the hopes of winning real cash prizes, up to $10,000.

iBalls:Steel is a a marble-maze game similar to Labyrinth. Here, the goal is to keep your marble moving about for as long as possible — touch the walls and it's game over.

If you're tempted to play it safe in the center of the box, you can try but it won't last long. iBalls: Steel has a second twist. In addition to not touching the walls, you also need to keep the marble cool by catching water drops. The water drop will appear in random locations, roll the marble over it to cool down. You have about 13 seconds between drops, any longer than that and your marble will experience a meltdown, and again, it's game over.

As mentioned previously, you control the marble exclusively with the accelerometer. It takes some getting used to. The controls often don't respond as expected to slow or reverse the marble's trajectory. What I can't tell is whether this is a planned part of the game or a flaw in the system. The help section is non-existent and even the App Store description is pretty light on details. At least there seems to be a pattern to the response. So, while it's definitely a challenge to overcome, dedicated players will eventually master the controls.

iBalls:Steel is a fine game. But it would have been just another app in the App Store were it not for the final twist. Real. Cash. Prizes. September 1-30 iBalls is hosting a competition. Submit your best scores to the global online leaderboard and at the end of the month the top score from each level will win. Prizes start at $100 and go up to $10,000 for the winner of level 10.

There is another twist that's not readily apparent until after you've installed iBalls:Steel. Each level must be purchased separately. Level one is installed when you buy the app. After that, additional levels are available for a  price which corresponds to the value of the prize being given away at the end of the competition. Fork over  your $1.99 and you might win $200 for level 2, $2.99 will net $300 for the winner of level 3 and so on up to $8.99 for a chance to win $900 on level 9. The big leap comes at level 10.

The player with the highest score on level 10 of iBalls:Steel will win $10,000 sent directly to their Paypal account. But you'll pay $49.99 for the chance to try. Only you can decide if you've got the cojones to pony up $50 for a game. But, if you do the payoff could be big. Either way, it's worth taking level one out for a spin. It's only $0.99 and you might walk away a hundred dollars richer.

Watch a video demo for iBalls:Steel

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgRtZEAvtSQ

Image Gallery: iBALLS:STEEL - FREE

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  • Daniel

    Given that offering prizes in this manner is illegal in many countries and some US states and that Apple has a stated policy of not permitting cash prizes to be offered on store, I'd anticipate this being pulled from the store by Apple pretty rapidly.

    There's a certain temptation to buy it while it's on store and download level 10 and possibly be the only one posting a score, that the dev with then be legally obliged to pay the $10000 prize for, despite getting essentially no revenue on the app. There's no specific license agreement on the app's page in the App Store and no competition conditions on the dev's website- it looks to me like they've taken no legal advice before offering cash prizes and this is likely to blow up in their face.

    Forcing payment per level is an ugly abuse of the in-app purchases system and through harming its reputation, is harmful to those who are wishing to use it for valid purposes.

  • David

    I don't know about what Daniel says...

    This is not the first app in App Store to offer cash prizes, and definitely not the last one. I haven't tried iballs, and i might give it a go at least for the level one deal, but that's not the point...

    Many developers are trying very hard to get a hold of customers. Just look at iMobster and the other apps from storm8, they use a very sophisticated system to get their customers money in terms of what they call favor points. That's just a way to get around the fact of in-app purchase and to have a free app, but in the end it stings just as hard when you realize you need the favor points to advance in these games.

    The developers of iballs is probably just the first of many developers to use the in-app system like this.

    Therefore I disagree with Daniel when he says it's an ugly abuse. I think it's kind of clever because you can choose your own stake by whether or not download the other levels.

  • Chris X

    iBALLS:STEEL is a brilliant idea and I totally disagreed with Daniel.

    The entire In App Purchase-system is the future for applications and I’m convinced that it’s just one of the first applications that use this specific system with prize money.

    I really don’t understand how you are supposed to use the system otherwise?

    What do you mean with this:

    “Forcing payment per level is an ugly abuse of the in-app purchases system and through harming its reputation is harmful to those who are wishing to use it for valid purposes.”

    This is your personal opinion but in the end it’s really up to each and one another. I personally think the entire idea is brilliant. It’s up to ME if I want to spend 50 USD on level 10. Isn’t it?

    And using the term “forcing payment” makes it sounds like the developer is holding a gun to the head of the customer. Once again: Just don’t download level 10 or any other level. Pretty simple, don’t you think?

    I find it hard to believe that it’s illegal to give away prize money like Daniel Says:

    “Given that offering prizes in this manner is illegal in many countries and some US states and that Apple has a stated policy of not permitting cash prizes to be offered on store.”

    What states and what countries are you talking about? And exactly what does these laws look like? What do they say? “You cannot give away prize money in a competition in the state of XXX?!” It’s a competition. It’s not Lotto.

    Apple’s got issues with developers using the App Store description to write how much money you can win. Nothing else. You can promote big cash contests OUTSIDE of App Store as long as the developers uses a on line leaderboard. No rules against this.

    There are several apps with prize money in App Store already. Bubble Wrap Pro is one of them with over 2 million downloads. Cash prizes promoted OUTSIDE of App Store.

    David is using the games from Storm8 as examples and he’s right! You can’t get anywhere in the games without buying the favor points which are REALLY expensive. The other way to earn them is to download and istall other games from Storm8. This entire idea is also brilliant. It’s up to me if I want to spend 80 USD on a certain amount of favor points and I really can’t see how this will “hurt the In App Purchase systems reputation”.

    MiRE Software (iBALLS:STEEL) is probably one of the first to use the In App Purchase system like this and like David says in the end; This is just the beginning.

  • Daniel

    It's illegal in a number of juridsictions to offer prizes in a competition where purchase of the product is a requirement for entry to the competition- The Netherlands, Japan, Germany, Austria, Italy, Florida, Maryland, Vermont, North Dakota and Arizona to name a few. You've probably seen competitions with odd conditions like facsimilies of an entry form that's part of the packaging being acceptable in those states. That's to avoid falling foul of these rules.

    Apple appear to be turning a blind eye to cash promotions that are entirely offered outside the app store- presumably because they are then not going to be legally liable, since if it's not mentioned on their platform, they're not party to it. It doesn't mean that the developer/publisher isn't going to be liable if something goes wrong. Part of the issue in knowing how Apple will respond is that this is in the grey area where Apple isn't clearly identifying where boundaries of acceptable behaviour lie.

    Let me bring up an alternative app to see how you feel about it- you purchase chips via the app store system to play online poker on your phone, with winnings being able to be withdrawn in cash. That's now regarded as online gambling and banned in many jurisdictions. The distinction between playing poker and iBall (both games of skill) is a very slight one that I wouldn't be caring to argue in the publisher's position. The fact that David use the term "stake" above suggests to me that he regards this as gambling- though correct me on that point if otherwise.

    Part of the issue I have with charging large additional in-app fees to access the great majority of content in a paid app, is that this isn't transparent. Since this isn't explained before purchasing the app, this means that a purchaser who is only going by the app store description (and there's abundant evidence that many do- that's why visibility in the store is so important), gets only a little piece of the game and is left feeling that the in-app purchase system is a means of grafting more money from them. I think it would be a good idea for Apple to require a description of the in-app purchases in the app's page in iTunes- so you can see up-front the total fees for accessing content before buying- somewhat similar to a cell-phone contract.

    I have some issues with Storm8 for the same reason of transparency of the costs- if your average user actually knew what the cost would be to actually succeed at the game, would they purchase it (probably no in many cases). I'm OK with the consumer making a choice to spend, but they have to know what they're up for up-front. Generally, outside the iPhone arena, a game that requires additional purchases to succeed at, or where additional purchases give you an in-game competitive advantage, have been widely panned.

    I don't think that Apple would be all that pleased at these uses of in-app purchases, since I don't believe they're promoting the system in a positive light. In-app purchases were conceived of, I'm sure, as a method of offering genuine new content, eg, ebooks or substantial level packs to games and these uses are largely being shied away from at present, due to concerns how in-app purchases are being perceived.

  • Michael

    I've been planning to start developing for the Apple iPhone myself and are a registered developer.

    I've only got one question in this matter!

    Where exactly in the developer agreement does it say that you can't offer prize money?? I can't find it!!!

  • Daniel

    Michael,

    Took a look myself and I don't think it's in there. It's one of those grey areas in the Apple approval process- and some would argue the whole process is pretty much a grey area :-).

    Current practise appears to be that Apple is OK with prize promotions outside iTunes, but not with specific prizes being mentioned in iTunes. Whether that can be guaranteed to be the situation in future, I don't think anyone can say with certainty.

    If you do want to offer prizes in a paid app, I'd suggest seeking legal advice to make sure that you do it legally- Apple being OK with an app doesn't mean that local authorities will be and penalties could be severe.

    Good luck with the development.

  • http://www.rakebackftw.com Rakeback

    I think this is like gambling.Is this gambling?This is illegal i am daemn sure.

  • Brandon

    This is not gambling, because it is a game of skill, and not random/luck based. Those specific states Daniel mentioned have laws against essentially lotteries / raffles. You cannot have a drawing to win a prize, where people have to purchase something in order to enter. You can most certainly cause people to pay money to enter a contest..... that happens all the time. Go to a state fair. Pay $5 for a chance to throw a ball through a hoop; if you do it you win a stuffed animal. This is the same thing.

  • Chris X

    Exactly Brandon. This is NOT gambling and I agreed with everything you say. Your skills are really put to the test. If you got steady hands, you win and in order to join you need to buy the game (level). I find it really hard that this kind of competition is illegal anywhere. I think you got it all mixed up with lottery.

    If this should be illegal in one country and fully legal in the rest:

    If the servers with the online leader board are hosted in a country where this kind of contest is legal, there is not a problem at all. Or is it?

  • Daniel

    You may have heard of the Eternity II puzzle- if not, Google it (I won't put an external link here). This is a puzzle that is available for purchase internationally- the idea is that you need to fit a number of pieces into a grid so all the edges match up. The first person who can demonstrate a solution wins a substantial prize (USD$2 million)- the puzzle is obviously designed to make this extremely difficult. This is doubtless a game of skill. Regardless, the manufacturers are unable to offer the prize in the jurisdictions I mentioned above, due to it contravening local laws (again see the Eternity II site).

    Local laws vary- what's OK in your local fairground, which very likely requires permits anyway, doesn't apply to the entire world. Offering a prize worldwide without proper legal advice is risky.

    As for setting up offshore- there are plenty of online gambling operations running out of the Bahamas and the like. Not sure if that means there aren't legal issues or just that it makes the operators too hard to shut down. I would think the whole operation may need to be offshore, not just the servers.

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