Surviving mobile games


Phone games are definitely a strange development, they’ve become incredibly prevalent and major games on console and sometimes PC are trying to emulate them, often in some of the worst ways like having random loot boxes and excessive amounts of DLC. The thing is, a big reason is that the up front for phone games is often free. There’s just a catch, though, because a business has to make money or else it can’t survive capitalism. So how they make their money is usually through in-app purchases, a secondary income coming from advertisements which run periodically. Possibly excessively, depending on how it’s set up.

The thing about in-app purchases is that people are able to spend way more on games than they normally would if they’re unaware of it. But they can also spend way less, or even nothing. It comes down to willpower and how hard they’re trying to sell the purchases. Alternatively they can just watch a bunch of ads sometimes, depending on the setup. The payout takes longer and is less immediate than just putting money into the game, however, but they don’t spend anything but about half a minute, usually.

Another thing is that in-app purchases can be ridiculous amounts up front, like $100. That’s way more than a regular game. But less than some collector’s editions of games at launch until they sometimes don’t sell and you can pick them up for less than the base game retailed for at launch. Still, when the microtransactions get macro that fast, it’s just insane. You’re reaching oil baron tiers, or stay at home moms getting incredibly bored that instead of buying a bunch of wine or tissues for soap operas or whatever the stereotype is for that, they spend the income on games that might be slot machines where I don’t really think you really win anything, they say you get “real Vegas comps” but for all I know it’s like a free sandwich at Quizno’s if that still exists, I think it does but I don’t see them.

So, here’s my typical strategy of free to play games that have microtransactions. Don’t buy anything in the first week of play, unless this is just a demo for the full game and the only payment is for buying the full version, then maybe still think on it for a day or two. You really need to get a feel for the game before you decide if it’s worth the exchange of money for… something. Could be anything, depending on what it is they’re selling, if currency or level packs or some other thing. It’s good to support developers, but publishers can be the greedy ones.

If you do want to pay, there’s a few options. You can pay with money. Sometimes you can watch ads for them. They can be kind of entertaining from how bad they are and are obviously fake CGI “gameplay” with this lady wiggling her butt as she walks in super HD graphics that the phone could only render about one buttcheek at that detail level. Or you can do this weird thing, depending on the platform, where you get app store credit for surveys or something.

Really I can only point to one for Android where you tell Google what you think about certain things and they give you credit that adds up. If you don’t like giving them that information, sure, that’s understood with how companies are. There’s also the option to opt into location-based surveys, which might really be getting nosy if you ask me. Then again this is coming from someone who uses Pokémon GO fairly regularly enough. At the very least this could get you some smaller in-app purchases from time to time, or whole paid apps even. I’ve only bought one version of Minecraft, any others were somehow free to me, including Android through this method. And now that one’s the only one that works with the grand unifying update, fortunately works with controllers because touchscreen controls for action-type stuff are not very good. Especially if you have really greasy hands for whatever reason, or how touchscreens just attract that no matter what.

There’s also the thing where they might really try to get you to buy things at points which you’d either have to play the level about a billion times to get past, or something just takes a long time otherwise. You have to be firm in those times because if it happens once, it can happen again, and you could instead either persevere or find another app. Really depends on the upsell. Plus there’s the whole “beginner packs” for certain cases to really try to hook you early. However sales are another thing. If you can actually pay less money for the same or more of a thing, and you don’t mind buying into it this one time, then sure, but again, always think about it first.

A good way to make yourself think is to disable any kind of thing that keeps your password alive when you buy in-app stuff, plus it hopefully keeps any kids from practicing obsessive supposedly consequence-free behaviors of overspending. Also any chance of butt buying, the more things you put in the way means the less likely sitting on your phone will empty your bank account even after you might have to replace the phone from sitting on it too much. I don’t use my back pockets for a reason.

Of course, a big factor comes down to the balance of the game itself. I’ve had a game going for a very long time across multiple phones without spending a single real world money, not even survey money, for example, it provides just enough opportunity to keep on top of things fairly well. Of course they still push the whole GIVE US MONEY thing. At least now they have rewarded ads so I’m not totally cheapskating on them at least. If upsells come way too often and way too strongly then I’m not likely sticking around for long, no matter the options, if there’s no way for me to not pay, at least not pay much, total. I do keep track of how things can add up and relying exclusively on the survey credit helps keep it way under control. Not that I’m a big spender anyway, I’m on a budget for sure. I’d rather make sure I buy things I enjoy. Or just need, of course.