If you think the in-app purchases for free-to-play games are often ridiculous killjoy experiments in behavioral economics, you’re not alone. NerdCubed posted an excellent foul-mouthed rant (video below) about one of these games, EA’s Dungeon Keeper (2014) for iPad and Android. Thomas Baekdal points out this game is “one of the five top picks on the front page of Apple’s app store”, which makes this rant all the more relevant.
For some background, you should know NerdCubed is an enormous fan of Dungeon Keeper. He posted a 22-minute gameplay video gushing with praise for the first Dungeon Keeper (1997). We don’t recommend the entire video, but you can see how easily the original game flows a few minutes into the clip, when he digs out 45 squares of a treasure room in about two minutes.
That game costs $5.99 with all the expansion packs included, and can be replayed whenever you like. And what is the cost to quickly build just one 45-square room in Dungeon Keeper‘s “free to play” version? As much as eighty-nine f**king dollars.
If you don’t want to pay up to two dollars per little f**king square, you have to wait up to 24 hours per square instead. Is it even a game at that point? The swearword-filled video below makes a good argument that no, this isn’t gaming. It’s just greed.
If micro-transaction-based games are someone’s introduction to gaming, how are they going to view the entertainment value of gaming? These micro-transaction games seem to be geared for addictiveness first and actual enjoyment later, if at all.
Thomas Baekdal sums it up:
Playing a game means that you have fun. It doesn’t mean that you sit around and wait for the game to annoy you for so long that you decide to pay credits to speed it up. [...] As NerdCubed said in his review, the problem is that all the future generations of gamers are going to experience this as the default. They are going to grow up in a world, in which people actually think this is what gaming is like. That social engineering and scamming people is an acceptable way of doing business.
The only way to win is not to play.
Here’s the amusing rant. The audio is NSFW.