Digital distribution platforms, such as Apple's App Store, hold a number of advantages over bricks-and-mortar stores. You don't have to leave the warmth of your couch to get your grubby mitts on an all-new title, for starters.

These stores also allow developers to update their apps and games with new content post-launch, which sounds like a pretty good deal. Unfortunately, free updates aren't always a good thing.

Take Touch Racing Nitro, for example, which hit the App Store back in March 2010 for £2.49 / $3.99. After numerous price drops and price increases (to as much as £4.99 / $6.99), the application was then made free in October 2011 for an unspecified time.

Last week, Touch Racing Nitro, which was still available for free, was updated. The game's updated App Store description featured four words: "Now Touch Racing Free!"

The update essentially removed the free full version of Touch Racing Nitro from the App Store and replaced it with a free-to-play version that required in-app purchases to unlock game modes. Developer Bravo Games even introduced ads.

What's new?

Unfortunately, this update means all players - even those of you who previously stumped up cash for the game - have to dabble with in-app purchases to access the content that you already owned.

Naturally, many people, including website Wings over Sealand, have fired complaints at the Spain-based developer.

"How do you justify stealing large sections of a game users have already paid for? If you want to make a free version of Touch Racing with ads and IAP that's fine, but replacing the paid version with it is a disgrace," the website said.

"Some of us have already paid for that content and do not appreciate it being removed by an 'update' which also spews ads all over the place. As a result I - and I suspect many more people - will never buy another of your apps, which doesn't seem a smart business move."


Bravo Game Studios social media manager Ana Hidalgo replied a day later.

"We're not trying to make money from people who have already bought the game like you did. It is not an excuse, but only four per cent of the 2MM downloads have been paid ones. Unfortunately, Apple doesn't provide with any methods to know when an user has paid or not for an app," she stated.

"We just want to monetise the game from that 96 per cent who are enjoying the game for free. Our goal is to monetise them via advertisement. We understand that this is annoying for the players that have paid for it.

"Yes, maybe we could have released a LITE version, but if we release a new free version, we couldn't monetize [sic] near 2MM free downloads we already have. And why we have 96 per cent free downloads? A very bad old decision. We've begun a new phase at Bravo Games and we definitely need some revenues from those downloads."

This, of course, isn't the first time something like this has happened. Back in December, French publisher Gameloft turned its premium God of War-esque action title Hero of Sparta 2 into an advert-laden free-to-play experience.

Gameloft removed the ads, reinstated the app's price, and issued a formal apology following scathing reviews from previous buyers of the app.