how I hate thee.
Either something is free or it’s not.
Either a game is free, or it’s not. I can approve of ad-sponsored games being free as they offer us, the users, to either put up with the ads or buy the ad free version. But the gameplay is identical.
This new freemium model is a different beast altogether though. Basically you get the game for free, no ads, and it’s fully featured. But the catch is that if you really want to play the game to it’s fullest potential you need to spend money in game.
This started out on Facebook games. Say you play the game, you earn money to buy items in game, but it’s not going quite as fast as you like. Then you can spend real money to buy game money to level faster. So far so good, although we’re already sliding into muddy waters. The muddy waters start becoming black however when there are several kinds of in game currency.
There’s the kind of in-game currency you can earn, and then there’s the in game kind of currency you can only buy with real money.
And now we’re sliding further into pitch black territory when you get to the games where the best content can exclusively be bought with the latter kind of in game currency. In other words, if you want to be any good at the game you HAVE to spend real money to buy game money. And keep spending real money of course as the game progresses.
It was annoying enough to see this kind of business model creep into more and more Facebook games, but now it’s inevitably crossed over into the mobile market, with iPhone games starting to come out supporting the freemium model as well. Capcom is currently by far in the lead with the Smurfs and Lil’ Pirates, but more and more other game companies are starting to follow.
Oh, and if you’re a parent, keep an eye on what your kids are up to before you suddenly see a credit card charge for 80 euros for Smurf berries.