Saturday, 22 March 2014

The hell of freemium games

I love playing arcade games. That is, games where you get to pitch your skills against a game structured to provide an immediate challenge or challenges. Arcade games by definition are games that battle for your attention and must stand out amongst the crowd. 

The games I played the most were shooting games. Space Invaders, Galaga that type of thing. I also loved the driving games. Pole Position, Spy Hunter, Chase HQ and toward the end of the arcade heyday Ridge Racer.

As a boy I would collect a pocket full of coins to go gaming with. If I was lucky I'd get a pound's worth! 10 games!! 
Of course you don't need money to play your games anymore. Most games are offered for free with many attempting to entice you to spend real cash once you're hooked. The infamous in-app purchase system; or Freemium model to give it its more industry specific title.

I despise in-app purchases for many reasons.
In the main I've never found a game so engrossing I've felt the urge to part with any money to expand or prolong the experience, and I've played a lot.
But it's the principle that grates on me the most. It almost seems devious and deceptive.
It's as if somebody is standing by the stall at the fair offering you a ride on 'the most thrilling ride you will ever experience' only to ask you for cash mid ride if you want to go around the loops. Otherwise you're just going to go round in circles with the bare minimum of thrills.

Recently I found Ridge Racer on the App Store.

It's a good race once you're up and running but Lordy it's not a pleasant experience. At every opportunity the game breaks to present you with an advert to go and get another game. The button to go get it is big and green. The button to cancel and head back to the game you just installed is small and grey. Well, guess which button you're drawn to most before you've had chance to process what you're actually doing?

I gave the game one spin around the first course before deleting it.
The race was fun. As a game it's challenging and plentiful with reward. But as an overall experience it's dreadful.

The industry obsession with unlocking achievements, sharing progress to Facebook and providing a mixed experience depending on your ability to pay is tiresome.

A trial version with limited gaming is a much better approach for me. Play it, like it, pay for the full version. 
Sadly the gaming market is swamped with decision makers who are out of touch with what a game experience ought to be.
Of course they'd tell you different. They'd tell you that they've listened to their fans and all that twaddle. Ask them to back it up with concrete evidence of such claims and they'll show you a couple of forum posts or a handful of tweets that might suggest a couple of penniless kids in South America prefer freemium games.

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