There's a new SimCity game coming to Android! That's good! But it's being published by Electronic Arts, one of the worst citizens of the mobile gaming nation. That's bad. The game will feature full 3D environments, like the latest versions of SimCity for the desktop! That's good! But it will inevitably be free to play, and stuffed to the gills with in-app purchases for everything. That's bad. There's no word on whether or not the game will contain potassium benzoate.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been on a crusade as of late to save the world from in-app purchases, and that's probably an okay crusade on which to be. The news has come down today that Google will be settling an FTC lawsuit by refunding about $19 million in unauthorized in-app purchases made by kids whose parents foolishly allowed them to go tapping around on their Android devices.
Many game developers these days are going free-to-play, permitting people to download their creations for free only to nickel and dime them for additional lives, time, characters, levels, coins, or anything else that may be required to make the experience actually enjoyable. In an interview with Pocket Gamer, Double Stallion, the team behind Big Action Mega Fight, explained how it decided to buck this trend by turning their freemium game into a premium one - and how they ultimately ended up making more money in the process.
Update: After we reached out to a Google representative, the company gave us the following statement:
We’ve been working closely with the European Commission and consumer protection agencies for the last few months to make improvements to Google Play that will be good for our users and provide better protections for children.
The representative was unable to comment on potential changes for the Play Store in the US or other non-European locations.
The perennial trading card game from Wizards of the Coast made its Android debut last year, and it seems that the developers intend to give it regular updates, just like the PC version. Magic 2015 includes an expanded collection of cards that match the physical card game, though you'll have to shell out quite a lot of cash for the full set - not unlike the real-world counterpart. Magic 2015 is a free download, but you'll need at least 1.2GB of free space to hold it.
The various detractors of the free-to-play gaming model, including yours truly, often refer to such titles from the likes of Glu and Gamevil as "pay-to-win." That's never been so true as in FREE FREE FREE FREE FREE 2 PLAY, where an ogre steals the princess and you have to literally ransom her back. You could spend hours and hours grinding through the 2D platformer, avoiding the advertising that will crush you and stomping on it to collect coins, slowly building up to 1,000,000 in-game dollars.
SoulCraft 2, as the name implies, is the sequel to the popular original SoulCraft. These are pretty standard action RPGs, but instead of wizards and orcs, there are angels and demons. Well, there are also in-app purchases, which are the real demons.
Free-to-play is a divisive topic in the games industry right now. Some developers and publishers, especially in the mobile gaming world, love it - free games get downloaded more, and they have the potential to bring in more revenue. Gamers used to the "pay once, pay forever" model of games and software in general over the last 30 years think it's changing the industry and damaging both the economics and the mechanics of gaming itself.
In-app purchases are all the rage these days, and Amazon's take on the whole deal includes Coins – Amazon Coins. They're like a universal currency that can be used in many apps and games available in the Amazon ecosystem. Today more people get to know the joy of Amazon Coins – they're now available in France, Italy, and Spain.
The Konami classic Contra came to Android last year, but despite the healthy dose of nostalgia, Contra: Evolution wasn't an awesome experience. The introductory price was $0.99, but the gameplay was bogged down by in-app purchases. Now the game has gone free, and the IAPs have been tweaked a bit.