A wise man once told me you get nothing for free in this world, there is always a price to pay and it’s a thought that has stuck with me my whole life. When it comes to gaming we are constantly bombarded with “free games” and it’s only later that we discover the real price we have to pay whether it’s locked in-game content that we can’t access or in game purchases. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind paying for my games, actually I would prefer to pay a set price over downloading it for free and being able to access hundreds of “extras”, and yes it may just be “business” but I admire developers who work hard on their game, and make sure it’s high quality instead of a shameful cash grab.
Sometimes it’s not always obvious that you’re being manipulated, lately Xbox Live let gamers play Evolve free for a whole weekend, yay how nice of them right? Once the weekend was over they held a sale on the game which was so thoughtful, now they’ve just acquired quite a few sales they probably wouldn’t have gotten if they hadn’t let you play for free, I couldn’t help but laugh. Maybe it’s the cynical side of me that thinks “what’s the catch” every time I am offered some free fun.
Currently the average price for an indie game is around £10 to £15, sometimes the game is worth its price others not so much. The beauty of in-game purchases for developers who have their eyes on your hard earned cash is that they can turn a game which would normally be worth a low amount of money into something that earns them a lot more. Take a look at the free game “Uno & Friends” (Yes Uno can be fun even without the camera feature) It’s free, a gift from them to you, only it’s not. You need tokens to even be able to play a hand and they are quite limited. So what’s your option if you enjoy playing? Wait (nobody wants to do that) or pay for more tokens. For their maximum amount of tokens you can pay a hefty £30.89, for a basic card game, it’s definitely fun but £30.89 worth of fun? Probably not. Removing annoying ads from your gameplay experience will also cost you £2.29.
And what about accidental purchases, we have all heard horror stories from parents who received their phone bill only to discover their delightful angel had spent £3000 on sea shells in a free game while developers laugh manically in the background. They aren’t all bad though, the best “free game” is a game that let’s you get all the way to end, having a good experience but maybe not as good gear as people willing to pay to support it.
One such example of a good free game is Neverwinter. A free to play MMORPG on the Xbox One. The only emotion this game will cause you is envy, as you watch other players race past you on dragons, spiders, ghostly apparitions with all sorts of companions following them, while you walk around the Protectors Enclave in your rags with your horse and a male healing companion called Strawberry. Here the developers are rewarding you for your gold by making you look a thousand times more badass than the cheapskates that won’t pay. Their top package stands at a whopping £114.99 with their minimum £7.99, so you can either walk around with your head down in shame or ride around on your ghostly horse, head held high looking down at the commoners.
Lastly, I want to talk about the game that inspired this article, Frozen Free Fall. I haven’t been infuriated with a game like this for a long time. When I say game, I mean a developer using the ever popular Frozen theme, letting you complete a few levels luring you into a false sense of security and then making the odds stack so high against you it’s impossible to get anywhere without purchasing one of their in-game power-ups at £0.79 a pop. That’s ok, if it’s hard you can keep trying right? Nope, you also have a life system so when you run out of lives (which you will) you will have to wait and hope you “win” one the next day or again purchase it. The game isn’t even enjoyable due to the sheer difficulty of the levels so you’ll pay and that is definitely not ok. Straight-out shameless cash grab with absolutely no thought or care for the players. If you thought your kids singing Let it go for the millionth time made you hate Frozen, seeing Olaf’s messed up face when you lose a life over and over will probably make you shudder every time your kids ask you to watch it with them.
When I heard Fable Legends was going to be a free to play, my heart sank and there in the corner was the line you dread when playing games like this *game offers in-app purchases. Notice the FREE TO PLAY in massive letters and that very important detail in the corner hiding like a naughty child. From what I understand, heroes will be switched around so you’ll only be able to access the current ones available and if you like playing as that hero, you can purchase it outright which doesn’t sound too bad but time will tell whether the fact it’s “free” is a good thing.
I just wish games would come with a set price, I don’t want free, I want to know what the catch is.
I’d love to hear your experiences with free games and the highest prices you’ve seen for in-game purchases, so let me know in the comments below!