You can't talk about mobile gaming without mentioning the elephant in the room: the free-to-play model. The bane of many a purist gamer and unwitting parent, an over-reliance on free downloads and hooks for in-app purchases has made mobile gaming a minefield of games based on upsell and addiction. Italy's had enough, and its antitrust authority is investigating app store owners Google, Apple, and Amazon, and game publisher Gameloft, for unfair commercial practices.
Attention, parents: if you've used your Google account to buy apps, books, videos, or music on Google Play, your credit card information is stored. If you give your phone or tablet to your kids, they might be able to buy stuff that you don't necessarily want. That's a lesson that Ilana Imber-Gluck learned after her 5-year-old son spent $65.95 on Marvel Run Jump Smash. Unsurprisingly, she chafed at the experience, suing Google in a northern California court on behalf of herself and "all others similarly situated."
The central issue seems to be a 30-minute window after downloading an app, during which the user - whoever that might be - can rack up in-app purchases without supplying a password.
If you're a dedicated gamer who's wary of the ever-present freemium model (or an Android blogger who's tired of reaching for his phone for every app in the roundup), there's good news tonight. A recent adjustment of the Google Play Store website will let you know whether an app features in-app purchases or not. It appears just below the Install button, right next to the drop-down list of compatible devices.
There are a lot of apps like SwipePad, and no matter how many we cover, I keep coming back to the original. Loopr is the first app in a while that's tempted me away, thanks to both an impressive visual presentation and some thoughtful features. At its heart Loopr is a a quick app launcher/switcher with the usual side-swiping mechanism, this time launched as a semicircle of icons similar to Circle Launcher Widget.
Dropbox gives every user 2GB of free space, but with all of us able to get up to 16GB through referrals and additional space just by activating certain devices, enticing users to go pro can be easier said than done. So the company has been adding in improvements to make the process largely painless. The last update made it possible to hand over your money by taking a snapshot of your credit card that could be used to auto-fill the requisite information.
Do you find that Instagram, Hipstamatic, and all the other me-too photography apps out there just aren't doing it for you? Then why not try VSCO Cam, the most anticipated iOS camera app port among Pabst Blue Ribbon drinkers and fedora enthusiasts! Here, let's check out this promotional video so we can get a quick look at all the impressive features offered in this exciting new app.
The Angry Birds franchise has thus far been on the lighter side of the free-to-play model - the original game launched free and ad-supported on Android, and later versions added small charges for HD versions and a few in-app bonuses like the Mighty Eagle. But it looks like Rovio is pulling out all the stops when it comes to the upcoming kart racer, Angry Birds Go. Pocket Gamer reports that gamers in New Zealand (where the game is getting an early launch on iOS) are finding it positively stuffed with in-app purchases.
Do you dream of leading Earth's Mightiest Heroes into battle... in the fashion of a 1992 JRPG? The Marvel's Avengers Alliance is for you. This game got its start on Facebook before jumping to iOS, and now it's here to grab a few Android users before they go back to re-watching the Captain America DVD.
The game is a lot like Marvel's War Of Heroes, except with a more story-focused campaign and no collectible card game pretense.
For the uninitiated, Skylanders is a series of kid's video games that use collectible (read: expensive) real-world toys to unlock and enhance the power of the digital characters. The games have been smash hits on consoles, but so far Activision's only concession to the Play Store has been Cloud Patrol, a basic turret shooter that leaves a lot to be desired. The new Skylanders Battlegrounds, a more conventional action-RPG, should make much better use of the property.
The rise of free-to-play games littered with in-app purchases is a contentious one to say the least. More traditional gamers tend to prefer the old model, with a paid and complete game and perhaps a free demo, but the freemium model has proven too lucrative for most game publishers to ignore. Android user "Mattayx" left the following review on the international version of FIFA 14:
Well done, Matt. EA has been particularly heavy-handed with its freemium games lately, with big titles like Real Racing 3, Madden 25, and FIFA 14 laying it on thick.