Overall I feel pretty neutral about freemium games for iPad and iOS. As a father of a 10 year old, it can be a drag at times to keep explaining to my daughter that we’re not going to break the bank on games that make it far easier to advance through them by purchasing all sorts of power-ups, gold coins, or the like via In-App purchase.
My preference is generally to pay a good price for a game or app initially and not have to fuss with In-App purchases. And by good price I don’t mean $1.99 – I’m more than happy to pay $10 – 20 for an iPad game if it is one I’m confident I’ll get a good deal of play and enjoyment out of.
But … I’m aware that many iOS users are not so happy with the prospect of paying $10-20 for a game, and that the freemium model has proved to be tremendously successful for developers. So if it’ an effective model for all the good, reputable developers out there, I really can’t say I’m against it.
Here’s what I am dead set against though – the horrible, shitty UI that seems to come along with more and more freemium games lately. The situation where you have to continually fend off big, ugly popups and prompts to buy things to make the game better or to make you a better player of it.
I don’t mind at all if there’s a prominent item on a game’s home screen promoting its wonderful In-App purchases. I don’t mind an occasional reminder that those are available and can help you get better, faster results. I do mind having them rammed down my throat continually when playing a game – through popups, full page ads that appear between levels, bits of junk on actual gameplay screens announcing them, or some combination of all of those.
Just as one quick example, I recently bought a golf game for the iPad that claims to be the most realistic, compelling golf game to ever hit the Apple tablet. That sounded great to me, and it’s by a developer who produced a baseball game I enjoyed a lot. I’ve had their new golf game installed for a while now and it does look quite good in terms of actual gameplay – but I hate playing and can’t spend more than a few minutes with it. I can’t get into the game at all because the UI is ugly and full of prompts to get this thing that will make me better and get that other thing that will make me even better still, and so on. Even the nature of the power-ups offered is irksome to me. ‘Use hearts’ is one of the prompts for example. I just want to play golf. Tell me at the main screen that I can get a better driver, a more effective putter, whatever – that’s fine. I don’t want to collect hearts or feed kittens or look to spot unicorns somewhere on the course to power up – I just want the realistic golf game that was promised.
Here’s a power-up option I’d like to see in some of these games – a ‘Turn Off All The Bullshit’ option. I’d pay a hefty ransom fee to just be able to play in peace and get rid of all the clutter.
What do you all think? Am I on my own as a grumpy old man on this one?