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I'm creating an iPad application where the user can purchase fictional currency in bulk and the fictional currency is used to purchase items in the app.

My current design for purchase is similar to the apple app store design, one button with a purchase price which changes to a confirmation button on tap. With this design the user is less likely to make a purchase slip. And the confirmation step is not as intrusive/disruptive as a dialog box/overlay.

My question is, is the confirmation tap necessary if I'm using fictional currency and not real money? (I'm still leaning toward a yes but some days I waver).

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"purchase fictional currency" just to be clear, this means that in the end the fictionaly money is in a sense equivalent to / bought with real money, yeah? –  Jeroen Aug 8 '12 at 22:19
    
yes, fictional currency mostly equates to real money but we might give out some currency for free. –  Lily Aug 8 '12 at 22:24
    
How do they purchase the fictional currency ? by paying real money? –  Mervin Johnsingh Aug 9 '12 at 3:30
    
If you go this way, I'd make sure the button reverts to its initial state after xxx seconds if not tapped again for confirmation in that time. Otherwise you will lose the value of the confirmation tap. –  Marjan Venema Aug 9 '12 at 6:28

2 Answers 2

There's purchase confirmation even in 80s videogames for home PCs (by PC, I mean, Commodore 64), where it wasn't even a possibility to have a connection betwen real money and game money.

The question is: can the user regain the losses immediately if there was a mistake? If not, how large these losses would be?

There are some cases where loosing fictional money easily was an option, but even then, it was a minimal loss (well, unless we talk about poker or similar):

In Pirates clones, like Port Royale, you can loose money on buying too much of something, but that's actually the point of the game.

In some RPGs (like, Baldur's Gate perhaps... haven't played such for ages), you had to drag-n-drop between the two players to make a purchase, and it was really hard to do it accidentally. In some games, still there was a confirm option in case you decided you want to rearrange your basket. Again, no real money was involved.

So, if accidentally loosing your money because of a sudden move is actually part of the gameplay, then it can be an option to loose your virtual money, but I guess it should be up to the user how much investment could (s)he make to the game.

But if you have to double-click, or slide, that's also a confirmation, no need for pop-ups.

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As a rule of thumb, ask users to confirm any action that doesn't have a corresponding symmetric action, especially if the action has some "weight" to the user. This "weight" can come from several things:

  • The action has some real money associated (possibly with intermediary ficational currency)
  • The action has some significant time investment associated (time is money, friend!). Think of deleting a document/item that took time to create.
  • The action has emotional significance, for example deleting or trading badges (okay, contrived example, but I'm sure there's better ones out there)

If the fictional currency is bought with real money, I'd think the user will attach quite some "weight" to the action, so I'd certainly ask the user to confirm the action.

One middle ground / workaround would be to make the action temporarily "symmetric", if the context allows it. For example, if you could "buy" something without confirmation, but could also "return" it for full refund within a time period (say 1 hour) then a confirmation may be skipped.

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Yeah another design idea I've been toying with is instead of using the 2 tap to purchase, we can show an undo purchase option right after a 1 tap purchase (like the undo send email option in gmail. This would be like the middle ground/workaround you described. –  Lily Aug 8 '12 at 22:33
    
@Lily Actually Amazon does this whenever you use the 1-Click Purchase –  Carlos Muñoz Sep 20 '12 at 15:07

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