Jud’s Game Rating:

Graphics **** Player participation (PP) *** Satisfaction Factor (SF) *

Frustration Factor (FF) **   Fair Play (FP) *  Tedium Factor (TF) ?


I love ELEPHANT GAMES games – usually.  But I was really disgusted when I tried my first Free to Play game yesterday.  From the outset it appeared to be a different format – not quite right.  I felt uneasy but proceeded.  Information screens kept popping up that were a little confusing.  I seemed to be doing Hidden Object site searches, that were from lists or shapes of about half a dozen HOs that rewarded me with coins, and energy stars, plus a few items that went into Inventory in a side Task Bar.  Okay so far.  Except I seemed to have to re-search the same sites several times before moving on.  Okay I could accept that.

I could use some of my Inventory items on other items, but when I needed a key to open a chest in my Inventory it seemed that I needed to purchase it.  Prior to reaching this stage I had seen a chart that said that I could buy necessities as I went along – initially it seemed that I used the coins I earned to do this, and that was fine – just what you would expect in a game.  But this chart also mentioned that if I needed special items I could actually buy more coins at a special rate for members – not sure if that was a BigFish thing or and Elephant Games thing – and the more I needed the more I would have to pay – in real money.  I could open the game and check that fact, but I’ve deleted the game in disgust.


I’m thinking ‘Okay, so this is not really Free to Play!  I suppose they have to recoup some of their costs somehow. . . . I will just use the coins I earn and see how I go.’  How naive!  I had played about half a dozen scenes, when the key for the chest arose.  A couple of sites later I was in the dark, literally, and played by torchlight.  But somehow I only had that for one search.  The next search needed lantern, which I had to buy.  When I clicked on it thinking I would use my coins it opened the shop which then told me I didn’t have enough coins and would need to buy some.  I backed out thinking ‘Well I’ll play a different site and come back to this later when I’ve earned some more coins.’


RIGHT – NOT!!  Back on the black screen with the glowing lantern on the top Inventory bar tempting me to buy, buy, buy, I clicked around looking for the Menu button in order to Exit.  No way!  I was trapped – locked into that screen and none of the usual means of Escape were available.  The only active spot on the screen was the Lantern!  So I had to Ctrl/Alt/Del to bring up the Task Manager, then click on ‘Found:A Hidden Object Adventure – running‘ then End Task.


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.  I’ve also heard about kids running 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.

Personally, I would rather pay for my games, and own them.  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 extra for the ‘rest of the game’.  See 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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