I have just experienced my first Free to Play game.  What a disappointment.  But more than that – an outrage!  It was very short, as I refused to get involved in the Buy more coins for game necessities as you go along, with real money – not just the coins you earn in the game.  Not only that, when I wanted to opt out of the now black screen with the only active spot being the lantern I needed to buy, I was trapped unable to find the Menu button to Exit the game.  I had to resort to Crtl/Alt/Del and the Task Manager in order to escape.  Crazy and unethical.

So outside of the game, having deleted it from my computer, pronto, I began to think about the concept.  I had heard about this but hadn’t quite realised what games they were talking about.  I thought they were a specific kind of game I wouldn’t normally access.  I’ve heard kids talk about playing Online games, but I always thought they were just the puzzle games like Match 3 and Collapse etc.  How wrong I was.  How would kids get out of a locked game screen where the only apparent out was the purchase of an item?  And would they really understand the implications of their choice? I’ve heard of kids that run up massive bills playing online, but didn’t put the two together.

That’s the problem with the speed of technological progress.  You may be expert in one or two fields and totally clueless in others.  And I guess that’s what the game marketers and producers take advantage of.  If you are going to offer something for free to your customers, then it should be free!  Not a money trap for the underage or naive.  I believe that this is the lowest of the low – giving a tiny bit of tempting game for free, with an insidious erosive seemingly tiny amount of money to play for Extras – tiny amounts that compound each time you use it till suddenly you look at the large bill and wonder how and where it came from.

Okay, so I suppose you Game Marketers and Producers have to recoup some of your costs somehow. . . . charging up-front for a game has worked well so far.  Why tamper with a good system.  You are just creating debt and worry for your potential customers, who believe me won’t be customers for long when they run out of money!!  ‘Free to Play’ is a disgraceful money-grubbing concept and should be classified as illegal.  It certainly borders on deception and fraud.  Despite it being the choice of the player to play the game, there seem to be no safe-guards for the gaming illiterate, the naive, or for kids.

Personally, I would rather pay for my games, and own them – that way I know how much I’ve spent from the outset.  I must add that I’d prefer the Collector’s Editions to be the Standard, for the price of the current Standard games, and that we didn’t have to pay more money for what amounts to  the ‘rest of the story/game’.  See https://judsgamereviews.wordpress.com/2012/04/06/collectors-editions-dlcs-etc/ for my views on this – there are links to a further blog, plus to I’m Not Dr Who site on this blog for further discussion.  Pete is particularly savvy re the marketing tricks played on Gamers and has written articles for gaming mags online for a number of years.  Well worth a look.

I strongly recommend that you all give Free to Play games a big miss!

Jud House  21/12/2012

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