I’m starting to see a very disturbing trend with mobile casual gaming: free apps that require in-app payments to speed along game play.
The latest game that I came across is Scarface for iOS. It follows the now familiar playbook of creating structures, waiting X amount of time to collect money from said structures and using that money to build more structures. If you are tired of waiting for the construction of new structures you are given the option to pay to speed it up. In the case of Scarface, it seems like you buy keys of cocaine to make your workers move faster.
What makes Scarface worse than regular games that follow this pattern is that there are 3 counters that you have to keep replenishing in order to continue playing: your cash, your cocaine and your ‘power’. If any of them are depleted you basically can’t continue until they are replenished. And you have to either pay money to replenish them or wait an exorbitant amount of time.
I don’t know who the jerks who made this game are (I’ve deleted the game out of disgust so I can’t check the credits), but I’m insulted that they would expect me to pay to fill up 3 counters in order to keep playing, instead of just one. I played through Tiny Tower, which followed the same pattern however they just had 2 counters (coins and cash), but the cash wasn’t even needed to play the game. You could get away with just playing with coins which you earn pretty quickly during the game. I got to 100 floors without having to spend a dime.
Now, in the case of both these games, they are VERY high quality in terms of look and feel and production value. I wouldn’t have any problem spending up to $3 or $4 to BUY the game and then just play through it without being fleeced by the developer. But I refuse to even touch it, and I refuse to play another game that is like it.
I will vow now to NEVER make a game that follows this game mechanic. I will NEVER annoy a user to the point where they feel like they have to keep paying me money perpetually in order to play my game. The furthest I will go in this regard is putting ads in a free game and offer a paid version.
I sincerely hope games like this won’t become the new norm.
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