Belfast Telegraph

It's not fun or sexy to cash in on our fears of dying alone

By Nash Riggins

Dating can be an absolute nightmare. Trying to find Mr, or Ms, Right is to experience near constant disappointment - and, for many, it's a stress-inducing race against time to find true love.

Perhaps that's why dating app Tinder has exploded in popularity over the last couple of years. The simple tool has transformed the chore of dating into a cheeky game that requires little time and virtually no effort.

This week, developers are celebrating the launch of Tinder's premium paid-for sister app: Tinder Plus. For lustful teens and overworked recent grads, its fancy features will cost as little as £3.99 a month. For those over the age of 28, Tinder Plus will set you back a whopping £14.99 per month.

It's easy to see why the company has decided to go premium. To them, it's time to monetise the system.

Execs have argued that an age-based pay structure must be introduced as a sort of student discount that will allow skint kids to look for love without breaking the bank. Fair enough.

Yet by charging silver foxes almost four times more than teens that probably shouldn't be using this app in the first place, Tinder is effectively cashing in on our age-induced insecurities. Think about it: not only do thirtysomethings have a lot more money to blow than your run-of-the-mill college student, but they're also a lot more desperate to find a life partner.

Youth is slipping away, their sex appeal is diminishing and parental demands for grandchildren are increasing.

So, logic dictates these daters will be far more likely to fork over serious money for costly premium services.

App developers know that - and they're gambling on a substantial number of aging users hopping blindly onto the paywall bandwagon out of utter desperation.

To be honest, that's probably a bet Tinder will end up losing.

Okay, so it's worth pointing out that the free version of the app isn't going anywhere (yet). But there are plenty of rumours swirling about concerning the introduction of adverts and even a daily cap on the number of swipes.

It makes perfect sense. By denying users the basic functionality to which they've grown accustomed, the company hopes to push people onto its premium service. But if there's one thing the internet hates, it's getting pushed into a corner.

To the vast majority of young users, Tinder isn't a serious dating platform worthy of time and money - it's a sexually-motivated game. On some smartphones, it even gets automatically filed into your gaming folder.

And while some addicts might be totally willing to pay a monthly fee in order to play that game, chances are most people will simply move on to the next big thing.

Data analysts at Morgan Stanley reckon no more than 5%-6% of Tinder users will actually end up becoming paying members. So, where does that leave us? On a precipice, it seems.

For the past couple of years, Tinder has been a fun, flirty way to spend a few minutes while you're waiting for the bus. But now, developers want to change that game by cashing in on our deep-seated fears of dying alone.

That's not fun, it's not sexy and it's not great marketing. From where I'm standing, it looks like Tinder has just inadvertently bumped into its own self-destruct button - and so romantic app developers should be licking their lips.

Belfast Telegraph

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