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I did not know this…

Interesting article in the Metro about free-to-play games and ‘microtransactions’. The current crop of free phone/tablet/browser games offer gameplay enhancements and add-ons for small sums. At today’s exchange rate, per the figure in the graphic, that’s almost a million bucks a day one game is taking in. (Games trigger the same reward brainjuice as cocaine, you betcha).

In the abstract, I don’t think that’s a bad idea. We’re all grownups and game designers gotta eat.

Provided the charges aren’t hidden, or easy to rack up by accident. Or aimed at kids. Or centrally important to a game you’ve actually already paid a lot of money for. And some of these new games have apparently done those bad things, but I suppose that’s to be expected. New idea shaking out and all.

I think their constituency is commuters and other bored people with smartphones. Not really my kind of gaming, happy to say. I played vanilla Angry Birds through once — fairly obsessively until it was done, I have to admit — and that scratched the itch.


Comment from Mrs Compton
Time: January 29, 2014, 11:17 pm

I was a Farmville Addict. When they came out with the app for the iPad it broke me of it, I was so peeved from the app not working I said, ‘screw it.’ Haven’t played any of those games since. Also the really cool stuff cost money and I like cool stuff, just not bits on a screen cool stuff. I like to hold it in my hot little hands, I’m cheap like that.

Comment from CrabbyOldBat
Time: January 29, 2014, 11:41 pm

I was addicted to Plants vs. Zombies, but version 2 is a “freemium” game where theoretically it is free, but you can only get the really cool plants by buying them. I haven’t played it. As for Candy Crush, I refuse to buy any of the upgrades or helpers. If that means I am stuck on a level for months at a time, so be it. (Hint for others: If you ignore the game for a very long time – a few weeks at least – then the next time you try the impossible level, it becomes easier, with many of the enhancements, such as the bomb you can only get by matching 5 candies, showing up more frequently as you play. They don’t want to frustrate you into quitting the game. This has worked for me several times.)

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 29, 2014, 11:51 pm

I don’t let my tablet spend money. I don’t trust the little bugger. I have no paid apps, and my books come from my Kindle.

Comment from Feynmangroupie
Time: January 29, 2014, 11:59 pm

I don’t get the attraction of video games. I kind of wish that I did, as the graphics are amazing and a lot of the story-lines look to be really fascinating. Some of the multi-player games look like a lot of fun as well. I just don’t seem to enjoy activities that are generally thought of as fun. Is there a genetic marker for curmudgeon?

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: January 30, 2014, 12:08 am

Well, if so, that makes two of us, Feynmangroupie… I don’t get it, either.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 30, 2014, 12:11 am

Have you ever tried watching YouTubes of other people playing through games, FG?

There were a few games I knew I’d never play (they were console games, or multiplayer), so I watched video of other people playing them. I was intrigued to discover I found it enjoyable…almost more enjoyable than playing, because I wasn’t on the spot to work out the puzzles.

Of course, most games are many hours to pay through, and I haven’t ever actually watched 8 hours worth of gameplay.

Comment from Deborah
Time: January 30, 2014, 1:56 am

It’s like you are speaking a foreign language.

Comment from QuasiModo
Time: January 30, 2014, 2:52 am

I played a ‘free’ zombie game in Facebook for a while, until the only way to advance was to buy stuff with real money…eff that…now I blow off people’s invites to play ‘free’ games in Facebook.

…I’ll stick with Steam for games, at least they’re upfront about it.

Comment from Nina
Time: January 30, 2014, 4:32 am

I have not played candy crush and do not want to play candy crush. I do like angry birds, though. I’ve several mindless games on my mobile to do exactly what you suggested, Stoaty…stave off boredom in queues and the like. I used to bring a book.

Comment from Can’tHarkMyCry
Time: January 30, 2014, 1:21 pm

Thing is, Nina–you still can bring a book, using the mobile as an ereader.

I’m with Feynmangroupie & Uncle Badger–I don’t get the attraction of games.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 30, 2014, 1:27 pm

Way, way back in the mists of time, if I was waiting for a phone call or something, I’d play a couple of rounds of solitaire. Judging from my memory and old movies, that wasn’t uncommon. Killing time is an old, old human game.

Though the full-on cinematic video games are really just extended works of fiction with puzzles to unlock the next plot point. I’m thinking a Portal or Half Life or Bioshock.

Comment from Can\’t Hark My Cry
Time: January 30, 2014, 1:57 pm

It’s interesting, to a non-gamer, to catch glimpses of the differences between games like Farmsville and Candy Crush Saga and the “full-on cinematic video games.” I think I had a sense there was a difference–but no real understanding of what it is. Not that I have a real understanding, now, but that last comment does suggest differences.

Comment from Feynmangroupie
Time: January 30, 2014, 5:25 pm


I have tried watching some of the stuff on Youtube. I even downloaded the first Portal because I got a kick out of the AI song that was going viral. I just got frustrated after a couple of tries. Of course, playing on a keyboard sucks and I have the manual dexterity of a manatee. Personally, I prefer the real thing anyways. Give me a full-on zombie apocalypse/alien invasion/Armageddon any day over the play stuff. It’s just not fun if it isn’t real.

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: January 30, 2014, 6:33 pm

I still enjoy a good hack & slash, but I don’t much care for the silly, overdone graphics. I blame Doom.

Edited to add:

game designers gotta eat

From the looks of most game designers, they already do plenty of that.

Comment from Frit
Time: January 30, 2014, 7:30 pm

I’ve watched friends & hubby play video games. Some are fun to watch, and occasionally I feel the urge to kibitz.

For playing, tho, I prefer the old fashioned, roll the polyhedral dice, with pencil & paper handy D&D game, sitting around a table with friends.

Comment from Mitchell
Time: January 31, 2014, 12:00 am

Oh, Candy Crush. I wish I could quit you. I admit to buying some of the upgrade items from time to time. Happily they’ve added a prize wheel that you get to spin once a day to give you some helper candies to use when you want to.

You ought to try Angry Birds again, they’ve got a bunch of new versions out there now. Also, Angry Birds Go! (cart racing) is a blast, particularly on a tablet. Temple Run 2 is fun as well.

Of course there’s Words with Friends. It really helps improve your Scrabble skill. If anybody wants to play look up MitchMor

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: January 31, 2014, 7:54 pm

“I prefer the old fashioned, roll the polyhedral dice, with pencil & paper handy D&D game, sitting around a table with friends.”

Why is it all the gamer girls live somewhere else?

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