The Ways in which Tinder Have Been Screwing Over their Users (and Customers) to Become the Highest Grossing App of 2019

It’s official. Tinder was the highest grossing mobile app of 2019. This, despite making the appearance of being on the way out, at least for the countless guys who have been getting fewer and fewer matches every year. But how did it get to this point? Let’s have a look at the ways in which the good folks of Tinder have been milking their users and screwing over even their paying customers (allegedly).

Brilliant artwork by yours truly. Digital copies – $50. Digital copies with signature penciled in in MS Paint – only $500. Limited supply, get them while they’re hot (-garbage)!

Tinder Plus

Introduced 2015

The only reason I am mentioning Tinder Plus is to get it out of the way, and to stay somewhat chronological. Yes, it has been a main source of revenue, but it was fair value. Tinder Plus gives you a lot of quality of life features, such as Rewind and Passport. Nobody got disadvantaged by the introduction of Tinder Plus.

These were the good old days.

Tinder Plus Price

  • $10 per month if you’re under 30.
  • $20 per month if you’re over 30.

Introduced 2016

Next came paid boosts. The reason we have to call them “paid” boosts vs. “Tinder boosts” or just “boosts” is to avoid confusing them with the free boost in visibility new profiles get, or travelers when they arrive at a new location.

These paid boosts promise to show you to “up to” ten times as many people as usually, for 30 minutes.

Originally they cost $3.99 per single boost, while Plus subscribers got one free boost per week. That got changed to once a month in 2017.

Now, in and of itself these paid boosts aren’t all that problematic. If people want to spend money to get more matches, let them. The main problem is that right around the time these boosts came along, people (i.e. men) started reporting lower match rates than usual, in the region of about 30% compared to pre-boost levels.

It’s possible that this is simply the effect of boosted profiles pushing back non-boosted profiles in people’s profile card decks, resulting in lower organic match rates. It’s also not out of the question changes were made to the Tinder algorithm to help this reduction along a bit, to make boosts seem more worth the investment.

The other problem is that paid boosts don’t seem to work exactly as advertised, and aren’t showing the desired results (allegedly).

Boost Price increase

Adjusted 2019

As if all that weren’t bad enough, Tinder increased boost prices from $3.99 to $6.99 per boost. Arguably because by this point in time, many people (i.e. men) basically had to rely on boosts to get any matches at all; Things had already gotten this bad (more on that below). So they saw an opportunity to squeeze their customers harder, and took it. It seems to have worked out well for Tinder and the Match Group stock holders.

Introduced 2016

In addition to boosts, you could also spend money on additional Super Likes, if the 5 per day that come with a Plus subscription don’t suffice.

I refuse to believe anyone paid for this.

Yes, I know I’m kidding myself.

Consumable Super Like Prices

  • $5 for 5 Super Likes
  • $20 for 25 Super Likes
  • $40 for 60 Super Likes

Tinder Gold

Introduced 2017

When Tinder Gold came along, it created quite a buzz. And interest has even grown since then.


But what exactly does Tinder Gold have to offer? Upon launch, it gave users exactly one additional feature on top of existing Tinder Plus features; for an extra $5 a month ($10 if you’re over 30): “Likes You” a.k.a. “Gold Queue”.

So with Tinder Gold you get to see who already liked your profile in a separate window. Supposedly, this saves you from swiping left on someone without knowing they already liked you. Oh the horror of missed connections!

As you’ve probably guessed, I think this feature is a waste of money. There was a reason you swiped left on that profile, and the reason is that you didn’t like what you saw. Now why would it matter if they liked you or not? It shouldn’t, in my opinion. It also takes the fun out of matching with people while swiping. That’s always a pleasant surprise.

The only thing Tinder Gold is good for, imho, is to put a number to how popular you are on Tinder, i.e. how many people have liked you. Then again, the people who get a lot of likes and could get an ego boost from Tinder Gold aren’t exactly the target audience.

So far so benign. A fool and his money are soon parted, I say, and once again; If people get a kick out of this then more power to them. There is one problem though:

The Problem with Tinder Gold

Match rates have once again dropped with the release of Tinder Gold (allegedly). About three weeks before the release that is, and again it seems to be to the tune of about 30%. This time, because the drop happened before the actual release, it seems hard to pin it on the “likes me” feature in some way.

Much rather it would appear they tweaked the algorithm once more to lower organic match rates further and give people a reason to want to try Gold in the hopes of getting more matches (to no avail). It has also been theorized that profiles in the gold queue are being withheld from users’ regular decks.

Top Picks

tinder-picks

Introduced 2018

Roughly a year after the release of Tinder Gold, “Top Picks” joined the family of malignant premium features. What it does, or what it is supposed to do, in short, is to give you yet another separate window with the crème de la crème of potential matches. People who would fit your tastes perfectly. This, thanks to the ever more advanced AI powering Tinder’s matching algorithm.

So much for the advertising blurb. In reality, it does show you some of the most attractive profiles you will see that day, most likely simply based on their scores. It also attempts to tag them with attributes that make them stand out, like “Scholar” or “Traveler”, to make them more appealing to you. Again, based on their brilliant text and picture context analysis AI. Well this part fails laughably, featuring such gems as the “Athlete” who likes to run errands according to their bio.

Free users get to swipe on one Top Pick per day, while Gold users get ten.

So yeah, “Top Picks” seems pretty useless, unless you like swiping right on profiles that are out of your league (in terms of Tinder scores) and will probably never even see your card buried in the depths of their decks.

If you do like that so very much, you can purchase additional Top Picks to your heart’s delight… and therein lies the problem.

Top Picks is Skimming off the Top

Apart from the ridiculous notion of buying “premium profiles” to swipe on in packs of 10, 20 or 30 – keeping in mind your chances of matching with them are in no way higher than they would usually be – these profiles have to come from somewhere.

And where could that be? That’s right, from your regular match queue. You know those ridiculously attractive profiles you used to see among your regular deck every 20 or so swipes? The ones that kept you motivated and once in a blue moon actually matched with? Well, they’ve taken a portion of those out of your regular match pool and packaged them up as a premium offer (allegedly).

So now you get to pay to see – once again, not match with, just see – the most attractive profiles instead of stumbling across them as often as you used to. Yay.

Super Boosts

Introduced 2019

The year is 2019. The president of the United States is a racist, demented (or “special”) Oompa Loompa, and you can spend $50 to $170 to boost your Tinder profile. We are living in the ridiculous timeline.

“Super Boosts” do essentially the same as regular boosts, just more. A longer lasting, higher theoretical views multiplier, and at a cost that borders on insanity. I mean, you could subscribe to premium dating services at a lower monthly cost than boosting your Tinder profile for half a day. This was supposed to be a free dating app with optional premium features.

There’s nothing optional about it anymore, as Super Boosts have exacerbated the already critical matching problem to the point where regular guys can call themselves lucky to get a match a week.

So those who have the money to spare get to cut in line and push everyone else’s profiles back even further in the queue, securing themselves a decent number of matches. But here’s the kicker: That number is still not higher than the number of matches you used to get for free in 2015, just by regular old casual swiping.

At this point, Tinder has become one of the most expensive (and profitable) “freemium” games on the market. EA could learn a thing or two from the Match Group.

I would highly urge you not to buy into this scheme, but who am I to stop you from getting Tinder matches if you have the cash to blow on boosts.

Tinder Concierge

Coming in 2020

So, Tinder’s (or the Match Group’s) business decisions have brought us to the point where women are getting about 100 times more likes than equally attractive men.

The perfect time, then, to sell those men profile advice. It’s highly likely that for those $50, you’ll get the same advice you’d get for free on the r/tinder or r/swipehelper subreddits, from premium (read: paid) existing services like Relationship Hero, or just from reading this (free) guide written by yours truly.

What do you think, should I turn it into an ebook and start selling it for $10 a pop, heavily undercutting Tinder? Perhaps selling my opinion on your profiles for $25 per consultation with someone who is definitely me and absolutely does not have an Indian accent?

Do you have any other comments? Because I am out of things to say and just quietly shaking my head in disbelief at this point. See you in the comments below, or on the SwipeHelper Subreddit. 🙂

 

2 Comments

  1. Agree with you on everything except for Top Picks skimming off the top. That seems like conjecture, unless there’s any hard evidence behind it.

    Tinder Plus definitely disadvantaged a subset of users – those unwilling to pay. Tinder started limiting swipes around that time. Also, lots of guys were using Fake GPS to “passport” for free, and Tinder commoditized that and started charging for it.

    • True, but you could still get plenty of matches with 100 right swipes per day. You just couldn’t spam right longer than a minute anymore and had to actually be a bit selective.

      About Top Picks: Yes, it’s anecdotal evidence.

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