Image credit placeplay.com
I have the advantage of being in a job I love. Working in the Games Industry, and these days in the Mobile Games Industry is really freaking maddening, but the GOOD kind of maddening, the kind that makes you obsess for days over hitting level 255 in PacMan or getting EVERY pair of socks you own to match up properly.
But make no mistake, I’m a gamer, heart and soul. While my current poison of choice is the AAA powerhouse “Titanfall”, I’m also a sucker for free to play mobile games as well. I use the word “sucker” somewhat ironically.
Most of the FtP games I stick with give me the option of either grinding or paying up in order to get the next cookie being dangled in front of me. If I hit a hard paywall (i.e. pay or play), then I’m out. I don’t mind watching an ad or two, but when the *only* option, halfway through the game is to pay-up? That’s a bait and switch. The game has to be *really* good in order to get around pissing me off like that. As a game designer- I try to do the same thing, allow the player to have a choice. Do they want to spend 10 hours killing rats to get a cookie? Or do they want to push the BIG SHINY BUTTON, send me $0.99 and be on their way.
For a lot of people, $0.99 is easier. It’s simpler. It’s the way they want to game.
For me as a gamer though, the game is no longer the game (in mobile). The game has become beating the IAP. How quickly can I acquire this item without paying cash (in-app ads are okay, it’s just the direct transaction I am trying to beat). It’s gone rather “meta”.
Which gets me wondering, as casual gamers become more sophisticated, is this going to start becoming the norm? Are more players going to play, not to beat the game as designed, but to beat the larger game of how not to pay for IAP? Or is it like sneaking in through the exit door at the movie theatre, does it lose it’s shine after a while and you just pay up for your tickets like everyone else?