If you’ve been involved at all with downloading, developing or just playing around on apps for any device lately, you’ll have noticed that “free-to-play” is a term that has found its way onto the marketplace. What it means is pretty straightforward – the app is free. The problem is that whether or not it’s actually free to play as you would have done had you paid for it, is another matter entirely.
Image courtesy of Johan Larrson
The answer, sadly, is “no,” most of the time. Many free-to-play apps have what’s called an “energy” system, which restricts the amount of progress you can make and time you can spend playing the game, which is a shame for anyone who’d rather keep going. However, there’s a solution! Simply give the developers some money, and they’ll give you some energy.
This seems like a viable solution, but what’s not immediately clear to some is that the game exists to endlessly pump money out of anyone looking for a good time on their phones, as you will never reach a point where you have enough energy – these games are designed not to become self-sustaining. If they were able to reach a point at which you’d no longer have to throw some cash at them, the developers would stop making money from you, and that’s not why they lured you in.
Hook, line and sinker.
That’s essentially what’s going on here – gamers are being lured. It’s like the old “pusher” concept – the first taste is free. The game presents it fantastically well at first, but it soon becomes apparent, once you’re completely addicted to it, that you’ll need to keep opening your wallet in order to hit the same highs you were getting from the game when it was free.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m all for paying for video games, but unless there’s a constant flow of new content and you’re using a subscription model, this seems wrong. People aren’t banks to be robbed, and if someone wants to enjoy the entire game, forever, by paying one amount up-front and never paying again (bar any downloadable content that appears in the future), that seems like a fair trade.
It’s a genuine issue in the app ecosystem, and while Apple have done an admirable job in ensuring that users’ kids aren’t endlessly spending their parents’ money, there are still those users who prefer shouting angrily at the Californian tech company over reading the manual. Realistically, this boils down to Apple’s control over what apps go onto the store, and I don’t think anyone would regret seeing this particular method of gating game play being stamped out, permanently.
Avoid free-to-play – it’s a toxic way of pumping users for money, and if you vote with your collective wallets, developers will notice the decline and hopefully move to a healthier business model. You deserve to be able to pay a set fee and enjoy something. We’re talking about video games, not drug addictions – let’s not allow them to craft games that operate as such.
Nadia Hyeong is a freelance writer who likes games, gadgets, apps—anything tech-related. She is an Android enthusiast and is currently obsessed with the iPhone 5s (check out O2 for more info). Feel free to follow her on Google+ and Twitter.
Editor’s Note: RealGamerNewZ has moved web servers, some older posts can no longer be commented on and have been preserved without their images. Thank you for your understanding in this matter. This article was written by Nadia Hyeong on 20140108 and was last modified on 20140108 .